Part two – Luxor
My dearly beloved Luxor is out of this world beautiful. A merry nine-hour train ride from Cairo, Luxor will knock your stinky, mismatched socks off. Just don’t forget to splash your cash and snag yourself a sleeper cabin. With a nifty bunk bed set up, power outlets and comfortable pillows, you’ll rest easy.
You can opt to stay on the East Bank of Luxor for a central, bustling feel, but in my not-so-humble opinion, West Bank is where it’s bloody at. With quaint, Nile-side café’s serving up hot Turkish coffee, cushy pita and drool-worthy falafel, West Bank gives you that relaxed, holiday vibe we all so regularly dream about.
Al Salam Camp, our choice of sleeping hole, is the most heavenly mud hut set up I’ve ever stumbled across. With all of the creature comforts you could need, hot showers, fans, beers and beds, Al Salam’s nightly campfires are so dang good for the soul.
Al Salam is run by the ultimate gentleman, Mr Ahmed. With a beautiful wife behind the killer cooking, a herd of gorgeous kittens, well-behaved children roaming about and an honest, easy-going nature, Ahmed is your go-to hombre of the West Bank.
We ambitiously opted to rent bikes, as organised by Ahmed, and ride over to Valley of the Kings. Usually a cruisy ride for those of us with some sense of directional intellect, we spent a few hours working on the glutes and crack sweat as we got pitifully lost – well, if you have to do it somewhere…
Paired with the joy of seeing my adult male travel companions riding children’s sized bikes with baskets and jazzy bells to boot, laying eyes on King Tut’s freshly refurbished tomb was a time to be had. Spooky, a little surreal and real damn pretty, Tut’s mask has the ultimate resting bitch face.
A handy tip – take your student ID to all of the attractions about Egypt and get half off your ticket price. As one of my counterparts shamefully found out, Aussie drivers licences don’t fool no man and will only get you a barrage of laughs and (king) tuts.
Temple Hatshepsut is an amazing assault on the eyes, worth a gander and a photo or four. The temple’s bazaar is full to the brim with tacky souvenirs (sign me up) and pushy salesmen – just beware of entering into a trance like state spurred on by some merchant’s powerful ability to sell tourists utter crap – they missed that one on Smart Traveller.
Karnak Temple should be on the top of your sites to see, with a full day’s exploration ahead of you. Get in early, avoid the crowds and make sure you take up some of those shifty tours guides up on their offers to show you some hidden spots – again, for a price, but so stinkin’ worth it.
We ended up sharing a mind-blowing spinach curry, pita and some billy-boiled tea under the gates of Karnak with its resident security guard sweetheart. Number one rule of Egyptian travel, always say yes to tea, you never know where you might end up.
If you’re staying on the West Bank make sure to take a felucca (traditional Egyptian sail boat) or motor boat back home. Your overworked cankles will thank you, or you know, motorboat you. If lunch on a yacht sailing the Nile floats your boat, Ahmed or any of the local boat babes will happily organise a luxurious, relaxin’ day on the river for you.
Our two-day stint in Luxor was nowhere near enough to scratch the surface on this divine corner of the world. I’d recommend living there forever, or a more reasonable four or so days.
Just remember my three cardinal Luxor rules, never stray too far from the closest falafel cart, pack for the cold nights and never trust boys with directions, ever.