Today was the day we moved back North -leaving peaceful Aswan behind. We hopped a cab to the station ready to get the 9:30 train to Luxor. We had had discussions about the train as it was 2nd / 3rd class only and were wondering about its quality. We arrived at the station and went though towards the platform when we were stopped by a policeman who said we could not go on this train. We were then whisked into an office to see the chief - lots of pips on his shoulders - who told us in no uncertain terms that the train was for Egyptians only and we had to wait until 15:00. With this we marched out of the station, in a cab and went to the bus station. We ended up getting a minivan to Luxor.
After a 3 hour journey past lots of cane sugar tractors but no camels, the minivan took us to the west bank where we were staying. We had another 'discussion' over price - the driver spoke no English and did not recognize the price we had agreed in Aswan. We agreed a compromise. After this we had a beer (my first for a week - must be a record!) and then went off into Luxor town.
The town was much quieter. There were scores of cruise ships tied up. All the touts were really please to see us - all saying they are offering amazing deals. The horse & carriage man claimed he would do the ride for the price of feed. Ken seems to attract the touts and bazaar sales people - he normally walks in front chatting to the local about something he has no intention of buying. He wonders why they pick on him but has decided it is because he is too smartly dressed and he needs to become a little shabbier and scruffy.
After organizing our trip for tomorrow, the ladies wanted to stop off at the Winter Palace hotel for afternoon tea (only a cup of tea not the full works!) - it was a lovely place with beautiful gardens. As a treat for Judi, Ken had negotiated a Caleshe (horse & carriage) to take her back to the ferry. The ride was all of a 100 yards at the great expense of 70p - Ken knows how to treat a lass!!
The following day was the last of the temple tours (Fran cheers at this!). We had 2 temples that we wanted to visit that were north of Luxor - Dendara and Abydos. The only practical way to do this was by taxi so we had organised a minibus and driver and set of at 8:00.
The driver proved to be a nightmare. It was a white knuckle ride. He hit a dog early on and then caused an accident by overtaking a van that was about to overtake a tractor. The van had to brake suddenly, served and hit the tractor while our driver went serenely on. There were numerous other misses - the road had speed bumps, chicanes and check points and his technique was to drive like mad between them and then brake sharply.
After 3 hours we arrived at the furthest temple, Abydos. This was in an area that was clearly a lot less prosperous than anywhere else we had been. The government was investing in a large new visitors centre - a strange juxtaposition with all the slums. As we have become accustomed, we had the temple to ourselves and had guards and guides following us round. The temple is famed for its carvings - there were plenty of them! After we had walked round the vast place and admired everything, we were led through a little door, across some wasteland to be shown another temple. This was then opened up for us.
It was then back in the minibus for another 2 hours of roller coaster ride. We arrived at Dendara - a peaceful temple stuck in the countryside. Here we acquired some help to show us round the temple - it started at one guide, quickly grew to 4 and ended up at about 7 - including the chief guide who insisted on taking charge. They clearly hadn't seen tourists for days.
The place itself was different - they were restoring some of the reliefs to show their original colours. The chief guide insisted on opening everything up for us and giving us all the mythology behind the temple. At one point, he took Ken & Judi up a rickety ladder to see the room where the goddess was stored. Fran & I declined. His assistant holding the ladder for everybody and as the chief went up, he started shacking it and his boss wobbled on the ladder. Fran & I burst into laughter - no one else saw what he was doing- not even his boss. We were then shown the crypt - Ken went down and the boss man offered to leave him down there for Judi. Much laughter and at that point they produced tea for all of us.
On the way back., the driver started negotiating for another trip tomorrow. At this point, we agreed to have a rest day tomorrow - we were truly templed out.
Our rest day was not too adventurous. The only thing we managed was high tea at the Winter Palace. There was lots of discussion between the staff when we wanted it on the terrace outside. We were in shorts and that was not proper attire for the lounge so the manager had to decide which rule to break - tea on the terrace, let us in with shorts or turn away business - we had tea on the terrace. The food was good and we also managed to persuade one of the staff to show us round the royal suite - a snip at £1000 per night.