In Egypt: Around Luxor

 

The Winter Palace Hotel from the river.

I wish I’d seen more of Luxor. I saw as far north and south of my apartment as I could comfortably walk, Karnak to the north and not much beyond the Winter Palace south. By comfortably, I mean for as long as I could stand the entreaties from caleche and taxi drivers, as much as the distance. But there are time-consuming “official” places to visit on both sides of the Nile, so Luxor the town, in the week I was there, seemed neglected by my standards.

Edward, from whom with his better half, Freda, I'd rented an apartment, came to the airport to pick me up. When I saw their street…

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…I understood why. Well hidden in an alley, the way to their home would have been difficult to explain. The friendly neighbors would certainly have directed me, but being met on arrival was comforting.

When I rent on Airbnb, there’s always a thought lurking, will it be as nice as it looks on the website. This one was every bit as elegant as the pictures indicated, even more. Meeting Freda for tea on the terrace above after I dropped my bag made me realize what a score this place and these people were. And it only got better as the week passed, far too quickly.

Approaching "My Luxor," home for a week, on the private stairway.

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Below, the entry with the kitchen behind the arched screen.

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Freda & Edward live on the roof of the rental apartment they own. The guest apartment occupies the top floor of the building with a dentist and doctor on the 2 floors below. Freda’s heart’s desire was for outdoor as much as indoor living space, so building above the apartment was the only possibility. According to the official code, one may have a structure on the roof as long as its roof isn’t deemed permanent. By permanent they apparently mean masonry, so Edward and Freda’s roof is wood and metal, substantial certainly, but not permanent according to official definition. So they have a wonderful one bedroom home and as much space outside on the terrace as in. It’s where I had breakfast every morning and the occasional dinner, lovely and cool.

Freda & Edward took me on an introductory ride in a public “bus”, small vans with sliding side-door access where women must squeeze into the very back seat.  Next time I’ll learn more about the routes and stops and how to use them, certainly not designed with tourists in mind, but very cheap. There are taxis, of course, and caleches, horse-drawn carriages, but the latter require the back-and-forth for a decent price and I often just don’t have the energy.

Some days we went out together and some days on my own…

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Above & below, the grande dame of Luxor hotels, the elegant Winter Palace.

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One day, lunch at the Winter Palace beside the pool (above)…

…and another day at Oasis Palace, a funky expat hangout.

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And lunch twice at Sahaby Lane Restaurant atop the Nefertiti Hotel.

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Turn onto Sahaby Lane, then up stairs on the right, 5 flights to the roof...

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…overlooking Luxor Temple and the newly rebuilt Avenue of the Sphinxes…

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…with a view across the Nile through the desert haze, below, all the way to Hatshepsut’s temple, just above the trees, center. Amazing.

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Another day out of curiosity, an excursion on the local ferry across the river for a stroll on the west bank…

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…and an offer I couldn’t refuse, a private ride back.

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I saw beautiful things at the Luxor Museum…

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..and decided not to stop here on the way home.

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I enjoyed my stay in Luxor very much, not in small part because of the greatest Airbnb hosts ever, Freda & Edward. Though many travel to faraway places to visit as many monuments as they can, and I saw those too, I most love being where people live. And that’s what will bring me back, the living city, before too long I hope.

You can find Freda & Edward's beautiful "Our Luxor" apartment
on AirBnB:  https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2957998

 

All episodes of 'PortMoresby in Egypt' can be found here.

 

 

 

And others of PortMoresby’s contributions here.

 

 

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