Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Unforgettable adventure with our children in lush village location - Review of Flats in Luxor, Luxor, Egypt - TripAdvisor

Lovely review from our recent guests, post revolution! Unforgettable adventure with our children in lush village location - Review of Flats in Luxor, Luxor, Egypt - TripAdvisor: "We've just got back home from probably our most unforgettable winter holiday yet. Flats in Luxor was my wife's choice and to be honest I would probably chosen a boring hotel complex, just for convenience - but how glad I am now that we stayed in one of Jane and Mahmoud's flats. Why? Because although we enjoyed all the stunning attractions of the tombs and temples, and sunset trips along the Nile, and days spent by the pool in the Winter Palace Hotel, it was getting to know the villages and lush countryside around the flats by bicycle and on foot that really made this holiday special. We cycled along pathways under the palms trees and alongside banana, sugar cane and other plantations. We stayed at El Gezira (closer to the ferry), rather than El Goubli. Our youngest boy of eight got to play football in a nearby field with other children his age.
Although not as sophisticated a location as the big hotel chains on the other side of the Nile, the view from the rooftop of the flat was quite quite simply spectacular: the verdant plantations and beyond distant villages and palm trees, and in the distance the temple of Hatshepsut nestling in the hills in which also lie the valley of the kings and valley of the nobles. Also good for sunsets and stars at night. Much better for us as a family than staying in a hotel.
On arriving my wife's first comment was on the size of the apartment - 'we should have brought my parents too!'. Everything was in good working order, the water hot and the fridge cold.
We would certainly stay here again. The only thing I would change would be to heat the pool in winter. We could get in the pool to cool off after days out in the sun, but it wasn't warm enough to stay in for more than a minute or so at a time. But this wasn't that big a deal - we simply paid to go to the luxury pool at a 5 star hotel in Luxor and spent the day there when our children wanted time to simply play in and around the pool.
Jane is very well-informed - about Egypt past, present and future and a very interesting person to talk to. And her husband Mahmoud is well known in the surrounding villages, making it easy to make friends and get things done.
Bicycles were great, but the roads take a bit of getting used to (cars seem to beep at every other road user just to let them know they are coming). Bikes were also good for avoiding dogs and the constant offers of taxis, feluccas trips, camel trips etc made by traders all the more desperate to earn some tourist dollars in the quiet period after the revolution. Even though it is understandable that taxi and boat drivers and restauranteurs etc were in desperate need to find tourists (some told us they had not worked in six weeks after the revolution drove tourists away) we were overwhelmed at times by the constant barrage of approaches. We learnt to say no in Arabic and simply walk on without any further response which was hard at times given their persistence. Jane's and Mahmoud's trips may be slightly more expensive than shopping around, but involve significantly less hassle and we were happy with what we got for the money.
It would be unfair not to mention the many locals employed by Jane and Mahmoud and the genuine warmth they showed in welcoming and helping us during our stay. I'm also glad that most of the money we spent in Luxor will go directly to locals employed by Jane and Mahmoud, and not the shareholders in a large hotel chain.

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