Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brilliant Promotional Video on Egypt

Resala Charity

A lot of people ask me about donating to poor people in Luxor and this is an Egyptian run charity I feel happy to recommend. .Resala : Association for Charitable message:.: "- Sent using Google Toolbar" the website is in Arabic but Google translator does give you the sense of it. The office in Luxor is located near Omar Supermarket

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 Expat Directory

Flats in Luxor is on the Telegraph Ex Pat Expat Directory: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

PS Although they have put the pin in the wrong place lol

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Introductory book on Egypt

Just caught this on Andie's Egyptology blog and thought it would be great for new visitors wanting an introductory book on Egypt.
Bryn Mawr Classical Review - Salima Ikram, Ancient Egypt: An Introduction: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Salima Ikram, Ancient Egypt: An Introduction. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. xxiii, 330. ISBN 9780521675987. $27.99 (pb).

Reviewed by Peter C. Nadig, Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin (

It is not easy to write an introduction to ancient Egypt, since so many details, past and present, need to be covered for this fascinating and extremely variant culture. A great deal of this fascination can be attributed to the aesthetic quality of Egyptian art which had left its mark over a period of 3000 years as well as the good preservation of many monuments and objects. Salima Ikram (American University Cairo) provides an excellent introduction – lavishly illustrated with photos and drawings. In nine chapters, the book aims at a general readership not familiar with Egypt by “setting the stage for their further study and investigation”. The focus is not only the various aspects of ancient Egypt’s history and culture, but also their reception as well as rediscovery through the ages.

The book starts with a detailed chronological chart of the periods of Egyptian history from 5000 BC till 30 BC. Kings’ names are given with their Horus and throne names as well as personal names and regnal years where possible (pp. xiii-xxiii). Chapter One (“The Black and the Red”) brings an outline of Egypt’s geography and environment. The author makes it clear that the country's wealth not only lay in the annual inundation of the Nile, but also in its natural borders. The different regions of Egypt, such as the Nile River and the Nile Valley, the Delta, the Western Desert with its oases, and the Sinai Peninsula along with the Eastern Desert and The Red Sea are explained. The second chapter ("Travellers, Thieves, and Scholars") deals with the history of Egyptology and Egyptomania. It began during the New Kingdom when Egyptians themselves began to reflect on the monuments of their past. Among these Prince Khaemwese, a son of Ramesses II stands out, whose restoration inscription can still be seen on a pyramid in Saqqara.

A separate section covers Greek and Roman visitors as well as scholars who wrote about Egypt such as Solon, Pythagoras, Herodotus, Manetho, Diodorus, Strabo, Pliny the Elder, Plutarch, Septimius Severus, and the fourth-century nun Egeria. A short section sums up the interest of Arab scholars in Egypt, some of which studied the ancient monuments or tried to decipher the hieroglyphs. Two of them, al-Idrisi and al-Qalqashandi, saw the Coptic language as the possible link to the decoding of the lost language. The early stages of the modern rediscovery of Egypt, its exploration as well as the establishment of Egyptology proper are outlined in the following subchapters. Several summaries of the work of explorers and scholars such as Champollion, Lepsius, Mariette, Petrie and Reisner are included; special attention is also given to Egyptian scholars.

The sources and methodologies of re-creating ancient Egypt are summed up in the intriguing Chapter Three ("Re-creating Ancient Egypt: Sources and Methodologies"). Here Ikram introduces the primary sources, which include landscapes, monuments, artefacts as well as ancient texts themselves in more detail. She points out that depictions of Egyptian daily life in tomb chapels do not show every step of certain processes, but only the highlights. While the ancient viewers would have been able to fill the gaps easily, ethnoarchaeology can nowadays help for a better understanding of certain processes and objects. Also important are the secondary sources, i.e. the travellers’ accounts from ancient times onward. Here a short mention of Arabic travellers in the Middle Ages might have been added. They sometimes provided valuable information about lost or destroyed monuments. Most noteworthy is the Mecca pilgrim Ibn Jubayr (1145-1217) who recorded the huge temple at Akhmim. A section on new technologies in archaeological and scholarly research concludes this chapter.

The next chapter is a concise overview of ancient Egypt from the Predynastic Period to Cleopatra ("Shadows in the Sand: Egypt's Past"). The various aspects of Egyptian religion are dealt with in “Maintaining Egypt: Religion”. Alongside subjects such as state religion and the pantheon of gods a major focus is on the various temples, their development, architecture, and decoration as well as rituals, festivals and the priesthood. An own subchapter is on the private religion and personal piety. Here it is interesting to note that the gods revered in private scenarios were often different from those worshipped in the state religion. An introduction to funerary beliefs and – texts is included here.

Chapter Six ("Kings and Commoners: Egyptian Society and Government") presents the different groups in Egyptian society from the king down to non-elites in Egyptian society, slaves and foreigners. The quintessential elements of pharaonic kingship and the role of the queen are aptly summarized.

The theme of the following chapter ("Town Life and Country Life") takes a closer look at the structure of settlements. Ikram points out the limitations of our knowledge since only a few of them have been excavated so far, while many others are beyond our reach due to overbuilding. A lengthy chapter follows on the daily life of the ancient Egyptians ("From Sunrise to Sunset"). The topics here are the Egyptian language and literature (here a chart of the hieroglyphic alphabet is added; figure 108, p. 223), judiciary, police, military, food production, body care, medicine and healthcare, clothing and footwear production, metalworkers, carpentry and shipbuilding, production of containers, Egyptian art, and entertainment. The last chapter is about the Egyptian funerary practises ranging from mummification, funerals and funerary equipment to tombs and cemeteries ("The Living Dead: Mummies, Tombs, and Mortuary Cults").

Among the innumerous photos in the book, many are by the author herself, which also add a personal touch. Even though some images may seem familiar, their selection is sometimes rather unconventional and provides a refreshing change. One may (gladly) look in vain for a typical photo from the treasures of Tutankhamun.1 Also many historical pictures are included to highlight the text. Singled out may be a photo from the early 20th century (figure 4, p. 7) showing the inundation of the village of Dashur. It aptly illustrates the fact that towns and villages of Egypt were built on high parcels of ground which became islands during the annual flood. This phenomenon happened until the 20th century, but has since ceased after the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s. The most unusual object shown here is that of a limestone toilet seat from Amarna (figure 103, p. 206).

Many text boxes in different sizes are included throughout the book to provide an isolated outlook on selected topics. Among these are, to mention a few, “Egypt’s Name”, “Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt”, “The Mummy Trade”, “Deciphering Hieroglyphs”, “Working in Egypt” (i.e. on an archaeological mission), “Choosing a Sarcophagus”, “The Pharaoh with a Passport”, “A Selection of Gods”, “Royal Iconography” and “Egyptian Art”. A glossary, a detailed list of further recommended readings as well as Egyptological resources, and an index complete “Ancient Egypt”.

An introduction to Ancient Egypt of this size cannot surely include every relevant detail, however intriguing or interesting it may be.2 Each of the nine chapters in Ikram’s book can easily be turned in a single monograph. The author has made a very competent as well as thorough choice on what to include and what not. Many details mentioned in the book reflect the current state of research in scholarship. This book provides an interesting as well as comprehensive read from which even the expert may benefit. It is therefore highly recommended as a starting point for the uninitiated.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nile water problem

Due to a barge sinking in Aswan filled with fuel there is a possibility that the water will be cut in Luxor. We have been advised to stock up. Fortunately we have a roof tank, so we have filled that. The governor is hoping that the feeds from the Nile into the water purification system can be protected.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

My Luxor

First published on Tour Egypt here are my feelings about my Luxor

To get to my Luxor you have to go through the other Luxor. Some people love the East bank but I find it artificial with loads of hassle. My Luxor is the West Bank. The character of the two places is totally different; it is not a case of the river separating two districts. The East Bank is much more developed and along the Nile there are many five star hotels cheek by jowl. Most of the tourist shopping is on the East, but few of the sites. The West Bank is more rural; hotels are small, family run businesses in the middle of the village. Although there are many alabaster factories and a couple of papyrus institutes, the attraction for the tourist is the masses and masses of sights.

There are loads of ways to get to the other side from the railway or the airport. You can get a taxi round the bridge. That takes a long time as the bridge is 9 km south of town. Also at various times of day the police can be a real pain forbidding tourists to cross. Certainly don’t try and cross before 6:00 am unless you are going on a balloon trip. After sunset you will be stopped and quizzed on what nationality you are and where are you going. I still get that, even though I have lived here several years. But it is the only way to get a car across since they closed the car ferry. Funnily enough, there is no problem going back the other way from West to East.

You can also cross by motor boat. Just walk down the Corniche along the embankment and lots of people will offer you a crossing on a motor boat. That is a very pleasant way to get across and you get views of Luxor temple as you cross.
Lastly, and my favorite, is the local ferry. I prefer this, as I am extremely unhandy about climbing on and off the motor boats, and always have to have my hand held. On the local ferry I am spared this indignity.

This is where you start to leave the hassle behind. You don’t have to fight off the felucca boys, taxi and calalesh drivers any more, you can relax. On the ferry you can chat with the locals. As a woman, I always sit next to other women and they are often carrying babies. This is always a useful topic of conversation even if you haven’t got a common language. Another mother knows when her child is being admired and friendly smiles are exchanged. You can try out a smattering or Arabic. ‘Walid ou bint’, boy or girl, is a good one.

On the ferry there is a man selling sweeties, nuts and other items. Some of these sweets are delicious but definitely not for the calorie conscious. They are laden with sugar. He cuts you off a piece and it is handed over in a scrap of paper, often pages from a book or newspaper. The sugary syrup immediately soaks the paper and you have to eat quickly to avoid being coated in it. There are also savory snacks for sale. Sometimes there will be a shoeshine man. You will see a small child wandering up and down with squares of cardboard and swapping these for a pair of shoes. This is so the customer can put his feet on the cardboard rather than on the floor of the ferry. The shoeshine man will be in a corner polishing away and somehow he always manages to finish before the ferry lands on the other side. The small child then whisks around collecting all the pieces of card, returning the shoes and getting paid. There seems to be a competition as you land that all the men engage in; who can be first off the boat. Somewhere in Luxor they must go and get awarded prizes, only joking, but it is amazing seeing them all rush to get off and gain an extra second.

Landing on the other side you are immediately greeted with the calling cry of the local Tax Tax. Actually it is not someone from the Inland Revenue finally catching up with you but how they say taxi. If you don’t want one, a simple La shukran and they go. Welcome to the hassle free West Bank.

Walking up the road to the center of the village, you go past stalls selling various produce. If you are there early in the morning, walk a little way along the embankment until you get to where the taxis and motor boat drivers hang out. There, under an awning made of a scrap of cloth, the men sit drinking endless cups of tea heavily sweetened. A man with a cart serves breakfast. Your seat is a rock, and an upturned palm leaf crate is your table. The most delicious breakfast is quickly served. Foul, the staple of any breakfast, salad, pickles and fresh bread. He pours samna (buttery oil) and you tuck in. No utensils. Just scoop up the food with the bread, crunch on the pickles. A filling start to the day.

A service car arrives and a crowd gets out. How do they cram so many people into these little truck/buses? The men walk past on their way to work carrying their implements. The sun is coming up and the heat is starting. You finish breakfast with a cup of tea, no milk, just sugar. Quickly you betray your roots with ‘waheet sucre’, one sugar. If there were any doubts about you being Egyptian they are laid to rest now. Egyptians like sugar water flavored with tea in my experience. My half Arab daughter takes four teaspoons of sugar in her tea!!!

Going up the village you pass the local restaurants, the juice bar (ice cold sugar cane juice is so refreshing), internet cafes; everything and anything is available. Sometimes the shops look less than prepossessing but the food is fresh and totally organic. Ah look, a pet shop, how unusual to have chickens as pets. No, your mistake. These are not pets, this is dinner. Pick your bird and it is killed, gutted and plucked. This is fresh food with a vengeance. Even at the butchers, that cow was alive a few short hours ago.

The fruit and veg man is totally seasonal so no imported and shipped, tasteless, out of season food. It is sun ripened straight out of the fields. Not even organic food tastes this good. The lemons are small and green and make a wonderful drink squeezed whole with some water and of course sugar. Grapefruit is sweet and can be eaten without sugar (unless you’re Egyptian). The candy man with his bags walks along the street.

Once out of El Gezera village you get to the main attraction of the West Bank, the sites. You can go round these in a variety of ways, including taxis, A/C mini buses, big coaches, donkeys, bicycles or even walking, if you are very fit.

The sites here are different as well. Of course you have the Valley of the Kings which everyone knows about, but there are so many others that no one goes to. Where it is, just you and the temple, and you sit listening to the call to prayer echoing across the courtyards and muse on the timelessness of it all. Go visit one of the lesser known tombs, where the guardian unlocks it for you, his only visitor that day, and makes you tea. He jokes with you and suggests you become his third, or was that his fourth, wife. It is friendly banter and makes your day, as he guesses your age some 10 years younger. That calls for a good baksheesh.

There is also the opportunity for horse, camel and donkey rides; just short trips round the village or a gallop into the desert. You finished the day on the roof top of a local restaurant watching the Nile and the sun setting, sipping cold beer and wondering if life back home is really worth it. The food arrives. It is a small banquet and totally delicious. You reflect on your West Bank day.

You suddenly realize that you haven’t heard a child screaming in temper or a parent shouting trying to control an unruly offspring. People seem more at peace and content here. The only arguments seem to be between a crowd of men who look as though they are going to come to blows. Voices are raised and it looks as though a battle is about to break out. It must be a blood feud and people are going to get hurt. You get a quick translation and learn that they are discussing football and not terrorism and you have never felt so safe in all your life. You walk back along the darkened street and people who know call out in greeting and beg you to stop and drink tea.

This is my Luxor, the West Bank.

Wall Art at Flats in Luxor

Anyone spending time in Egypt will notice that many of the houses are decorated with brightly coloured murals. These can be of a variety of subjects. On the outside of a private home these came be a description of the householders trip to Mecca, scenes of the journey together with the sites of Mecca commemorate their Hajji or pilgrimage. On business premises these are more often scenes of Ancient Egypt done to entice passersby to the premises. Well we are as guilty as the next and recently had one of our walls decorated. Actually to be strictly accurate it wasn’t our wall at all but our neighbours. He had built his house and the back wall of it faced our property and was directly over our swimming pool. A view of mud bricks and concrete pillars is not very aesthetically please when you are lying by the pool so my husband approached him and proposed we render and paint it. Of course he was delighted that we wanted to improve his building and agreed at once.

Firstly of all we wanted a slightly different picture from the normal Hatshepsut’s temple or Tutankhamen’s mask so delving into my books I came across the scene from Pashedu's tomb at Deir el Medina. It shows Pashedu drinking form the river in the after world under a date palm tree. Well being as it was going above the swimming pool and there was a date palm in front of the building it was perfect.

I gave the painter a line drawing and a coloured picture and from that he created our picture some 2 stories high. He drew grid lines on the paper and then using masking tape and huge sheets of paper he made a full size girded paper. On this he reproduced square by square the design on the A4 sheet. Then he went over every line with a toothpick making holes. He then hung the paper up against the wall and using a bag of powdered blue dye he puffed over all the tiny holes leaving small dots behind the paper. He them removed the paper and joined up the dots and then started painting. It was fascinating watching him at work and I think you will agree the finished article looks great.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Desert Safaris

Our great friend and regular driver Rageeb has just acquired a flashy new jeep for desert tours, with air conditioning. He has been doing desert tours for us for some time but having only a minibus has had to keep to the regular roads. Now with this, the latest model in land cruisers, he can go any where. So if you want a trip in the Western Deserts please contact us and we can arrange Rageeb for you.

Oasis, Great Sand Sea, Uwaynat Desert, Gilf el Keber, Kharga, Dakhla, Farafra, Bahariya, Siwa, Areg, Qara, Baris, Dush, Darb al Arbain Desert, Forty Days Road, Wadiryyan (Fayoum) are all places you can visit by desert safari. You can experience everything from a one day tour to 2 weeks or more depending on your desires. Below is an example of a 1 day and 5 day tour. Trips can be arranged from Alexandria to Abu Simbel through the desert.

One Day Luxor – Baris - Dush – Kharga - Luxor

The tour starts in the early morning from the new road and takes the ancient caravan tracks. This is a short cut between Luxor and Kharga where you are free to wander in desert, see a real oasis, met local people and see places of beauty. The route takes you via the Black Valley, Crystal Quarry, Deers Valley, Alabaster Valley, sand dunes and the Temple of Isis at Duch.

Visit one of the oldest Christian necropolises in the world at Bagawat home of the oldest Basilisk church, the Exodus Chapel and Peace Chapel. Then onto the Temple of Hibis built by the Persian king Darius in the 26th Dynasty. The best preserved temple in the Western Desert built for the God Amun Ra.

You will see many different types of sand and rock formations with plenty of wild life birds and reptiles together with a hit spring swim.

Five Day Tour Kharga, Dakhla, Qasir, Sand Sea, Farafra, White Desert, Bahariya, Black Desert, Valley of the Golden Mummies

Day 1 Depart Luxor for Kharga, Visit Bagawat the oldest Christian necropolis and Ptolemaic temple of Hibis. Camp beyond the Roman fortress under the desert sky

Day 2 Drive to Dakhla where you will experience traditional Bedouin hospitality and have a hot spring swim.

Day 3 Experience the beauty of Qasir, the oldest inhabited Islamic town, just outside Dakhla. Visit the old city of Mut and Balalt, one of the earliest Pharaonic sites. Our drive takes us deep into the Western Desert and close to the great Sand Sea. Visit Farafra Oasis for lunch and head into the magical White Desert to look for fossils and black pyrites. . The White Desert is the largest I the world, there are beautiful formations such as mushrooms and ice cream cones!!! The to the chalk and limestone formations in the desert for dinner and an overnight camp sleeping under the stars.

Day 4 – On to Bahariya oasis via the Crystal Mountain where you can hunt for quartz. Take a hot spring swim close to the black desert and its pyramid shaped mountain of Visit the Valley of the golden mummies

Day 5 Leave for Cairo, see the pyramids, sphinx and Egyptian museum

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Easyjet flights to Luxor 20% off

This ad just popped up

EasyJet Luxor Sale
Sale on all flights, up to 20% off! Fly b/w 1 Oct & 15 Dec. Book now.

So no excuses not to come and stay at Flats in Luxor, it is so cheap to fly here now it is silly

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Featured Apartments - Arabesque

Flats in Luxor - Arabesque House

This building is situated close to the main cross roads on the West bank down a shady lane. The top floors look towards Hatshepsut’s temple with fabulous views of the Theban Hills. The building consists of four apartments
Noor, two bedroom on the ground floor, and then Layla 2/3 bedroom followed by Noor 3 bedroom and lastly Nigma one bedroom on the roof.

This building is a refurbishment of a traditional family home and is decorated in an Islamic style with architectural features such as mashrabeya windows. It has a roof terrace and ground floor patio overlooking the canal both of which are shared by all flats.

Out Goubli building is only 5 minutes walk away guests staying at the Arabesque are welcome to use the swimming pool, free Wi-Fi and restaurant located there.
Staff are on the premises 24/7 and they clean and maintain the communal areas and will run errands or help with translation.

This building was gutted and refurbished in 2008 making it into 4 individual flats.
A delightful Arabic home in the heart of a traditional village. In fact one of our relatives lives next door and another across the way.
It faces across a canal towards the Nile but the view from the back is of the village and in the distance the temple of Hatshepsut.

A short walk take you to the main road which goes from the ferry to the Valley of the Kings.This property often appeals to guests want more interaction with Egyptians. You can even buy your fruit and vegetables from the back of donkey carts traveling on the road in front of the building

Each flat has a slightly different layout making this our most flexible building. Starting from the left we have Nigma the one bedroom on the roof, it has one bedroom and an open plan kitchen. Next down is Amar which is a three bedroom flat, with large lounge/dinning room. Then we have Layla which has an open area in place of the third bedroom, this came be used for overflow guests. Lastly Noor the two bedroom on the ground floor with its own entrance door leading straight into the lounge.

All these apartments are available holiday rental and all except Amar are for sale or long term rental. the Arabesque still has Christmas vacancies. Please contact us at for more details.