Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ramadan in Luxor

We are in the middle of the Holy month of Ramadan and it is such a special time to visit Egypt. Try if you can to get invited by a family to break the fast at sunset. They do not mind at all that you are not fasting and love to share this special time with you.

I love being in a country so united in a religious festival, the nearest thing I have experienced before is Easter in Cyprus.

How does it affect the tourist, well hardly at all. Hotels etc try and use Christian staff where ever possible to serve alcohol but don't be surprised in small hotels to find no alcohol or the staff asking you to help yourself. They prefer not to even touch it during Ramadan. It is not a good idea to be on the road around sunset as road regulations tend to be tossed aside in the rush to get home for Iftar. Certain government and official places like passport offices and banks close early and some of the sites have special Ramadan openings.

If you are on a full day trip be considerate to your driver or guide and insist that they stop and break their fast. They do not mind you eating or drinking in front of them but I prefer to be discreet but woe betide you if you lit a cigarette.

This is not the time of year to disagree with an Egyptian man during the day!!! Wait until he has broken his fast before nagging him about chores not done.

Soon it will be Eid and everyone gets new clothes and the children get money. Egyptians try and pay all their debts and make sure everything is up to date Mon wise so that everyone can have a good Eid. I you give someone a good tip so they can enjoy a good Eid your kind gesture will be much appreciated.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Egypt Is Attracting A Growing Number Of Overseas Property Investors | A Blog About Personal Finance

Egypt Is Attracting A Growing Number Of Overseas Property Investors | A Blog About Personal Finance

Credit Crunch Holidays

With money so tight at the moment and the collapse of one of the UK budget charter airlines holidays need to be good value, inexpensive but interesting and use a scheduled carrier. What about Egypt? What about EgyptAir?

Egypt is not the first destination to come to mind but with internal costs extremely low even when you add on a flight the holiday becomes affordable. I have flown EgyptAir to the UK on numerous occasions and once to Japan, I prefer getting the greater leg room and luggage allowance. With charter airlines you seem to pay extra for everything which a scheduled flight provides automatically. EgyptAir is competitive on price and flies into all Egyptian cities like Cairo and Luxor. For non British tourists scheduled is your only choice and many other airlines fly here from all the European destinations as well.

There are 3 types of holidays 5*, 3* and backpacker. Do remember these stars are Egyptian ones so paying through the nose for a 5* hotel is not going to give you a Tiffanies experience. So why bother. Backpacker accommodation is great for the young and young at heart and is certainly cheap out here. But the real bargains are in 3* hotels or self catering apartments like mine. Flats in Luxor BTW flat is British for apartment :) We offer 3 bedroom apartments that sleep 6 with fully fitted kitchens, Western bathrooms AND a swimming pool, free Wi-Fi, in-house restaurant. All for $50 USD low season $70 USD high season. Divided by 6 now where could you get such great accommodation for the price. Now that is a bargain.

Similarly food experiences like falafel, foul and koshery are ridiculously cheap and very nourishing. Koshery a mixture of lentils, pasta, rice and a sauce is under 20 cents. But if you want the Egyptian experience try Felfela in Cairo or Sofra in Luxor. Real Egyptian food at real Egyptian prices. A great meal for under $10 but don’t worry it is not spicy like Indian food but really tasty. And also don’t worry about a dickey tummy. Actually fresh food cooked locally is safer than many a buffet left out for hours.

Add to that the most stunning array of historical sites like the pyramids and sphinx, Tutankhamen‘s tomb, the temple of Hatshepsut, the most famous female Pharaoh, the sound and light at Karnak temple, camel rides in the desert, sailing boats at sunset on the Nile. Now that is a holiday.

A word about safety. There are some odd areas of Cairo I would not fancy walking around at 2 am, that is the same in any country. Think about downtown New York or the East End of London however the tourist areas are safe and mugger free. In fact we (Although I am British I live here in Luxor, Egypt) are not quite sure what muggers are? Refreshing isn’t it?

Any troubles you have read about are likewise miles away from the tourist areas. Would you let a problem in Mexico stop you holidaying in Canada, exactly? Giza and Gaza are not the same place. The only problems you will get round the pyramids at Giza are camel drivers trying to get you to take a ride. That is a monetary one as well as a flea ridden one.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sail the Nile : the review Trip Advisor would not publish

From a satisfied cutomer who experienced one of our felucca sailing holidays.
Well what can I say? Should I tell you all how fantastic my experience sailing down the Nile in a Felucca was? Should I try and portray everything we saw in great detail? Should I tell you that we have just enjoyed the best few short days of our lives?

In short; no.

The memories are mine and my family's, they are precious and I could not possibly put into words how we all feel since we have got home. I could not do justice to all we have seen and experienced.

What I can say is this; if you are thinking of creating some incredible memories for yourselves then please think about taking a trip down the Nile on a Felucca. I have a 14 yr old son and I really wanted to do something this year that would have a lasting impact on him, something not to wild or dangerous but just enough to give a young man the travel bug that leans slightly toward the independent traveler and away from those horrid package tours that take you to a place that has all the food and entertainment found at home with just more sunshine.
I figured that with Egypt being so close to Europe with a culture and history so diverse to ours and a river running through it that holds the whole history of its nation on its banks then here was the perfect solution: Sail it.

And with the look in his eyes and face every morning I am quite sure I hit a perfect 10.

I have opened a young mans eyes to the world outside his own. For a father that is the best that you can hope to do.

I may be pretty well travelled and quite used to being in a strange land with a problem of where to go next and how to get there. That is perfectly fine if as an adult you have decided to be there, however when you have taken a child into that arena then you do need to have as much under control as possible. And that is where I have to give thanks to Jane Akshar. The English lady that runs who is not only a voice at the end of the phone when I booked the trip with her, she was like a friend who would help if I needed it.
Jane arranged the boat and its crew, and when the train to Aswan from Cairo was 4 hrs late she made several phone calls and within minutes of my telling her, Jane had arranged for someone to meet us and get our plans back on track. On more than one occasion I had to get in touch with Jane and ask for help and on each occasion the solution was given within minutes.

Edfu: The experience of sailing down the Nile is one that none of us will ever forget and is something so special that I don't want to tell you about because I want you to discover it for yourselves.

My only recommendation is that you get a guide for the Valley of the Kings and then go back to Jane's Flats in Luxor for a shower and a swim. We sailed from aswan to Esna where we met up with Jane's friend/guide who took us around the Valley of the Kings and believe me it made all the difference. Then after 5 days sailing we could have a shower and a meal, I can't tell you how good it felt.

We organize sailing holidays for people and one of our very satisfied guests sent the above review to Trip Advisor. They refused to publish it saying
We received your review; thank you for taking the time to write it. Since we don't list this type of cruise right now, we're holding onto your review until we do. We'll be able to post your review then, and we'll let you know when it's up.

Isn't that bizarre I would have though Trip Advisor would publish anything about trips!

Some great photos aren't they, he sent me so many I didn't know which to chose

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Virtual Tourist recommends Flats in Luxor

A lovely recommendation in Virtual Tourist for a change Just returned from my first visit to Egypt, and stayed in the beautiful apartments owned by Jane and Mahmoud of "Flats in Luxor". In the heart of the rural West Bank at Luxor, the experience was like a magical trip back in time, but with all modern comforts! Stunning views over lush farmland, as far as the Theban Hills and Hatshepsut's temple, hot air balloons floating aloft at dawn - yes, we'll definitely return! A fabulous experience!!

Guest Book
Despite the best efforts of the help desk at Bravenet I cannot get my guest book to display in Internet Explorer. Is anyone else having the same problems it is fine in Firefox. The helpdesk think it because of my add-ons Anyway please do have a look at the guest book and see what past guests have written and add your own comments. Also Trip Advisor is a good source of reviews on both the flats and the tours we do.
Flats in Luxor Guest Book

And still the Trip Advisor reports keep coming in

We have just returned from Egypt after staying at one of Jane & Mahmoods properties and I can give nothing but praise. We have been to Luxor many times and decided to have a change and wanted to stay on the west bank. We contacted Jane and arranged to stay at their Goubli property. The flats were great and very spacious, the pool is finished however the pool bar is yet to be furnished but the whole area is very private and there is a kitchen area on the ground floor with a fridge to put your water etc in whilst at the pool area.

The staff at the flats are brilliant and there is a member of staff at the flats 24/7, big Mohammed is a true gentleman and cannot do enough for you, Akhmed has a taxi and is very reliable and more than fair with his prices, also when you ask him to take you somewhere he takes you there and fetches you right back without stopping at every alabasta shop on the way(the luxor savvies will know what i mean!!!!)

We only booked one trip with Jane and it went like clockwork so I would have no problem recommending her trip service.

Having now spent time on the westbank I would find it hard to stay on the eastbank, the people are so much more friendly and we walked from the flat to the local shops(about 10 mins) a few times and didnt have a scrap of hassle. It was great going to the local shops and buying fruit and veg etc and you really see the difference in price for everything on the westbank, it was so much cheaper.

We fully intend to go back and stay with Jane and cannot wait for our next holiday

Xmas and New Year 2009 at Flats in Luxor

Remember last year where we had a Christmas Day traditional turkey dinner. Xmas Menu Cooked by the wonderful chef Ben Wilson of Benz, for all the guests at the flats. That was held at the Goubli flats. Every one had a great time and it was lovely the have all the generations enjoying themselves and even Mahmoud put on a paper hat.
We followed that with a party on New Year’s Eve with a whole roast sheep. Most of the guests had never seen a whole animal being roasted before. It was cooked by an Egyptian chef with the faithful Mohammed Garden and Little Mohammed helping out big time. Bit of a mistake there as we did not think to have a vegetarian option. Sorry won't do that again

Mahmoud and I are going to do even more this year. We have a lot of bookings over the period so now we have our chef on board we can do more food. Especially some vegetarian options. We are also going to have traditional Egyptian entertainment Arabic music, whirling dervish, belly dancer all are planned. I know it is only September but our bookings over Christmas are coming in already so we have decided to make sure those guests have a wonderful holiday.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Vacancies Xmas 2008

Well Christmas and New Year are getting pretty booked up but we still have vacancies and of course we can always find other landlords in the area

East Bank after a long let of three years our three bedroom flat Geb becomes free this November. Perfect for Luxor’s nightlife yet located down a quiet cul-de-sac. Photos are on the website. This is our only 3 bedroom flat on the East Bank as the other 2 flats are sold but also on the East Bank we have 2 one bedroom flats Seth and Anubis.

Al Gezera still has a couple of vacancies and if push comes to shove I will move out of my flat. Goubli is nearly full with just one vacancy now.

But the ace up our sleeve is the Arabesque House, located near Goubli, just a couple of minutes walk. The building has finished and the flats are being furnished, there is a one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom. Anyone staying at the Arabesque House has access to the Goubli swimming pool and other communal facilities.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

2008/2009 Tour Prices

We can offer private guided tours in Luxor of up to three sites for $80 USD per person (minimum 2 adults). The price includes qualified guide, tickets and transport. Choose from the following sites

East Bank
Karnak Temple
Luxor Temple

West Bank

Valley of Kings
Tomb of Ay
Valley of Queens
Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir El Bahri
Assasif Tombs
Tomb of Pabasa
Mortuary Temple of Merenptah,
Mortuary Temple of Seti I,
Mortuary Temple of Ramses II (Ramasseum)
Mortuary Temple of Ramses III (Medinet Habu)
Workman’s Village at Deir el Medina
Tomb of Pashedu
Tombs of Roy and Shu Roy
Noble’s tombs of Neferronpet, Dhutmosi and Nefersekheru
Nobles Tombs of Ramose, Khaemhet, Userhet
Nobles Tombs of Benji, Userhet, Khonsu
Nobles Tombs of Sennefer and Rekhmire
Nobles Tombs of Meena and Nakht

Don’t forget our specialist tours:-
• Quiet Tour – where Inshallah you are the only tourist
• Grandfather, Father Son – Comparison of Mortuary Temples
• Kids Tour – dressing up or homework!
• Egyptian Housing from Pharaonic to today incl.Hassan Fathy

Non historical tours in Luxor at $20 USD per person
• Donkey Ride over the Ridge.
• Felucca Sunset Dinner Cruise,
• Camel Ride to the Christian Village.

We can also provide day trips to Cairo, Desert Trips, Middle Egypt, Aswan and Abu Simbel, Red Sea in fact anything in Egypt. Price on application.

Children under 6 are free and under 12 half price, students over 12 must in possession of an INTERNATIONAL Student Card