Even at half past six the view from our balcony is enchanted. Less exciting is the fact that the French group that arrived yesterday is also leaving at this time. That means that the last working elevator is now used to transport their luggage (from several floors) and that we have to walk 100 steps down to the breakfast hall. Then we have to walk 100 steps back up to our room and then 160 steps down with our luggage. We are really having a hard time!
Our taxi waits for us before the hotel and at 8 we arrive at the station from where the convoy leaves for Luxor. There are only 3 small busses and our taxi (the French tourists from our hotel probably took a plane or left for Abu Simbel) and we have a military car before and behind us. Hooting, we pass local open taxi's which are clearly well occupied.
We are speeding southwards and since it is forbidden to halt to take a picture we try to make some photographs from the car. Fortunately, some of the pictures are nice, most not. These rural areas, bordering the desert, look totally different than cities like Luxor or Aswan. Since tourists are not allowed to stop, these people have lost all their income from tourism the last few years and that is one of the reasons why the cities have grown enormously since a lot went to live there.
Sugar cane is one of the most important plants here, and donkey carts deliver it to the factories that we see now and then, black smoke coming from the chimneys. Except for some cement factories this seems to be the only real industry here.
Around Esna we only see banana plantations, but we can't take a clear picture. There is so much to see along the streets, like colourful houses, people on their way to the market, children in their school uniform parading in long lines through the dust, the desert fighting the vegetation, too much to enumerate.
We also pass several checkpoints like this one. Registration numbers of the cars are written down and how many foreigners of which country sit in the car. All is written down in a huge book. There are several convoys a day, so who is ever going to read this book and when? Or do they only have it for reference when something happens? We get more and more the impression this is more a limitation of freedom than that it gives a feeling of protection. But it is good for the employment rate, all these soldiers.
Today we travel directly to Luxor without stops, except the compulsory stop where the soldiers from Aswan change with their colleagues from Luxor. It is at the same restaurant where we also stopped on the way to Aswan, the one where using the toilet costs 1 pound. The owner doesn't recognise us and keeps insisting that we take a cup of tea and use the toilet, but today we are not interested.Just after eleven we are back in Luxor, after 6 great days in Aswan. Although Aswan has grown much bigger than Luxor, it is still a quieter place than Luxor. We hear noise coming from everywhere here, cars, trucks, cruise ships that keep their engines running, radio's and so forth.
The hotel has a room ready for us and after putting our bags away we go into town.
That means that we first go to our favourite terrace, the Metropolitan, along the Nile. We didn't have much for breakfast with the group of 200 Frenchmen who wanted to eat at the same time as we, so we catch it up now and take a few sandwiches.Then we start to walk again through the streets of Luxor, through the new shopping streets with luxurious souvenirshops and the old souk where more and more souvenirshops take the place of the local shops with vegetables and spices. We are welcomed back by lots of people who seem to recognise us and again try to sell or rent us something, a carriage, a taxi, a felouka, alabaster statues, a dress or whatever, everything for only 5 pounds. One coachman even rides next to us for a quarter of an hour before he accepts our 'no'. He even wants to drive us to Cairo for five pounds...
Walking through a souk is always a special experience and we notice many things we would like to take a picture of, but we don't do that too often since the people not always like that. Like the butchery with whole sheep's heads and the fish that appear to be swimming in flies. On the picture a long line: women to the left, the men to the right, waiting for the baker to open his shop. It must be quite a good bakery with so many people waiting!While we are walking suddenly my back starts to ache and Teije has much pain in his feet. We almost don't get on anymore. Would that be the price we pay for walking all those stairs this morning and yesterday in the hotel at Aswan? It is still early but from now we walk only short distances, from terrace to terrace. This way, we can go on for hours!
Back at the hotel we find a Dutch newspaper before our door, a sign that Astrid and Susan have been around. We pick up the things we had left in their room and arrange to meet tomorrow morning at breakfast. We feel rather tired and not totally fit, so we decide not to go out anymore. Time to take time off, go on holiday???