|Luxor, chocolate box temple town|
Along the otherwise pleasant Cornice the hassle is constant, relentless and sometimes offensive. Say "No" and the reply is "Why not?" - now you've stopped walking and are engaged in conversation. Say "No" again and the reply is "Maybe later?", "No", "Maybe tomorrow?" . . . The first rule is to keep walking, DO NOT under any circumstances stop, even if they stand in front of you, and they will. The second rule is to smile and repeat "la" and "shokran" (no and thank you). "La, la. la" . . ."Why la?" . . . it still seems endless. I try to remember that most of these guys are just trying to feed their families.
Saturday 29 December: Away from the Corniche the town proper has most of the amenities you would expect, shops, licensed restaurants, a range of hotels and bars, even liquor stores. So I've decided to stay here for the New Year and have a very comfortable double-aspect twin-balcony room (205) with a small TV and free wifi in the spotlessly clean Boomerang Hotel. B&B with private, if detached, bathroom is an extraordinarily good deal (E£65) and there is a relaxing rooftop bar serving the cheapest Stella beer (E£10) in town. The buffet breakfast too (E£15) is hard to beat: Omelet or pancakes cooked to order, orange squash, yogurts, cereal, fresh fruit, boiled eggs, a selection of white and yellow cheeses, various cold meats, tomatoes, cucumber, white and wholemeal toast, an array of jams, honey and, a selection of teas and coffee. This is probably the best value hotel I have stayed in, high praise indeed.
Monday 31: Braving the hassle of the Corniche, it's a reasonably pleasant downstream stroll to Luxor's small but fascinating museum. A new hall to the right of the entrance displays a cashe of treasures unearthed in Luxor Temple in 1989: a pristine statue of muscular pharaoh Amenhotep III, builder of Luxor Temple and creator of the Colossi of Memnon on the West Bank; a double-statue of goddess Mut and her partner, local god Amun; an alabaster sphinx of 17th dynasty king, Tutankhamen; a bas-relief of Thutmose III; and a sublime double-figure statue in calcite of crocodile-headed god Sobek protecting 18th dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III. Upstairs there's a well preserved mummy of Ramses I, and beyond a huge torso of the large-lipped heretic pharaoh Akhenaten, amongst other exhibits (no photos allowed).
I'm in Luxor for New Year's eve and the very English King's Head pub looks like a good place to spend it but unfortunately I'm suffering a heavy cold, so following a pleasant meal in Zofra, one of Luxor's better Arab restaurants, in the same street as my hotel, I end-up staying in my room, drinking lashings of fresh strawberry juice and watching TV, happy New Year.
Saturday 2 February 2013: I've been back in Luxor for a week or so to buy clothes, shoes, replenish my first-aid kit, update my blog etc and catch the Six-Nations Rugby in the King's Head today, the three opening matches are all entertaining. The Boomerang Hotel has cut their rates for me to an unbeatable E£60 (£6) a night including breakfast. Hotels are fighting for the few tourists that are here this season.
Slideshow of Luxor.