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First trip to the land of the pharaohís decisions decisions!
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tuthmosis
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:08 pm    Post subject: First trip to the land of the pharaohís decisions decisions! Reply with quote

Hi Guyís,
Ok so Iíve taken the decision to finally go to Egypt after years of dreaming about it.
The very last holiday Iíve ever had was 27 years ago at the tender age of 15 and I was still able to travel on my parentís passport! So first thing Iíve got to sort is my passport as Iíll need an adult one now me thinks!
As I mentioned in my ĎSay Helloí post I love the New Kingdom era of ancient Egypt and so Iíve figured that to ease me into Egypt and the holiday scene Iíd just visit Luxor on this trip to keep it simple.
Iím limited this year to a weekís holiday so Iíd like to go Sunday, to Sunday and itís here that Iíve hit my first snag. I canít find any direct flights from my local (Manchester) airport on a Sunday! The only flights I can find are charter flights that run on charter days, and it seems TUI, Monarch, and Thomson all run week days. That leads me into problem two.
I definitely donít want a package! Like you I know exactly where I want to go and what I want to see so flying charter is probably off the list from the get go. Thatís fine as I donít fancy sitting next to someoneís screaming kid for five and a half hours anyway!
So the only flights I can find are via schedule carriers BA, Egypt Air, Iíve found one flight thatís perfect via Egypt Air which goes MAN-LHR-CAI-LXR. A lot of stops I know but Iím happy with that as I currently hold a PPL and Iíd get to ride an ERJ170 a Boeing 777 and a 737 or A321 (yeah Iím into aircraft as well!) The only problem is that flights coming back a week later are different and cost nearly £930 on the Egypt Air web site!! BA has flightís coming back but Iíd have to overnight in Cairo both ways as the BA plane doesnít arrive while late GRRRRR!!
How have you all over come this?
I donít mind catching all the different aircraft as this will be part of my holiday and part of the excitement about actually going to Egypt, but I donít want it to be any harder than it really needs to be.
Ok so Iíve arrived. Accommodation.
Iíve got this thing buzzĎin away in my head that tells me that Iím going to get Pharaohís revenge the moment I land and itís going to ruin the whole trip and make my Egypt experience a complete disaster. So Iíve thought about self catering, as Iím not a very sociable person anyway and never eat out, preferring to cook my own meals in my own home. I know itís Egypt and youíve just got to take your chances but if I get my own food and water in at least Iíll know everythingís been cooked well.
You can tell Iíve not been away for a while canít you Laughing

Anyway, I like my solitude and to be honest this holiday is not only the realization of a dream but Iím wanting, badly needing some personal down time on my own just relaxing.
I was considering staying at the Beit Sabee guest house as itís had really good reviews and is a few hundred meters away from Malqata! But again, Iíd be mixing with folk (good grief donít I sound like a reel grouch!) and I just donít want that. Has anyone tried self catering and can they recommend anywhere on the west bank?
Finally, Iíve been looking through some of the other posts about walking, and the reasons not to!
Is Egypt really that bad now? I heard that crime was almost none existent in Egypt, and reading some of the post ĎArab springí comments have me worried. I walk everywhere here at home and a three or four mile walk is nothing to me. What I wanted to do was buy a regular Egyptian galabya and blend into the crowd as my parents are Jamaican/English so I could pass myself off as a bloody good looking Egyptian, as long as I keep my mouth shut Laughing
Walking around on the west bank is what I wanted to do mostly, but if armed gangs are walking around out there whatís the point in going!
As you can probably tell, Iíve not been away for quite a while and need some really good advice and support about anything to do with the trip.
Iíll probably think up something else to worry about but in the meantime thatís it for now, any ideas folks?!!! Idea
All the best.

By the way, I am really am top bloke, I just like to keep to myself honest! Boo hoo!
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A M Street
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

As far as getting to Egypt goes being flexible in the time you are prepared to fly will pay off both in cost and convenience. There are a number of package companies that do flight only bookings and I know for certain that Egypt Air do direct flights to both Cairo and Luxor. I've been on both.

Where are you going to be staying? If in Luxor there are a number of companies that provide for this and it may well turn out cheaper than booking into one of the tourist hotels. I'm not sure about the rates as generally the longer you stay the cheaper the rates are.

As regards to security I can say that in Upper Egypt things seem to have settled down as far as tourists are concerned. That's partly due to the fact that a large proportion of the income in this part of the country is due to the tourist trade and the Egyptians, both the state and individuals are smart enough to know where their best interest lie. Calache drivers and felucca owners are fairly persistent, but that's due to the slack trade and a polite " La, shukran" usually does the trick. Of course caleche drivers do have an unsavoury reputation but keep walking and ignore them if they get too pushy. As for walking it's not a problem. The only trouble I had was trying to get from the Valley of the Kings to Deir el Medina. No go, but not a problem the other way I have been told! I still don't know about taking a camera through the Valley, backwards as it were.

If you do dress in a galabya I think that most people in Egypt would probably take you for a Nubian, just like they did Erica, one of the people I was with last month.

You'll enjoy Egypt, but beware, it is a disease, and you may not be able to resist going back and back and back.
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Hekat
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi welcome Tuthmosis.

Barry is replying to you but I think you really should try reading this blog:-

http://thegreatbelzoni.wordpress.com/

& maybe contacting Tim.

He is a friend from your neck of the woods (Sheffield) who is a keen walker who prefers to travel alone & stay in self catering. He wrote a book called Leaving Thebes about his first visit (he has been back several times)

I am sure he woudl give you all sorts of useful info about the journey, staying here etc.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tuthmosis, welcome Smile

The UK direct flights do come in and out on Mondays and Wednesdays. However you can do the London, Cairo, Luxor trip on a Saturday or Sunday if you use Egyptair for the long haul leg and code share with BMI.

At what time of the year do you intend to come? The temperatures do get very high between June and September. Security is not really and issue here at the moment but we have the Presidential elections in June.

I really would not try to blend in by wearing a galabeya. You will stand out like a sore thumb! The type of galabya available to tourists scream "tourist" and your walk will be the real give away. It requires a lot of practise before you will be comfortable in one. Most Egyptians working in tourism wear European type clothes. It is most important to wear only cotton clothing for coolness and do not wear vest type tops as you will actually be much hotter with exposed skin. I take you point about your skin tone but regardless of that you will feel the heat on the skin.

The West Bank is definitely the best place to stay if you enjoy walking. You can take a self catering flat but for a week it will be quite costly. Everyone eats out here on holiday. By the time you find all the best places to buy food and have mastered to vageries of your stove your week will have flown by.

There is a lot more advice I can give you if you wish it so why not PM me with your questions. Cool
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tuthmosis
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Guyís, (Not sure who everyoneís names are?)
Thanks so much for the warm welcome!
Well I just had a great time reading your replies and itís only made me feel more certain that I want to come to Egypt. Am I right in saying that two of you actually live in Luxor? I know you have that as your location but is that mentally or physically?

To answer your questions Iíd like to come over if possible the 4th to the 11th of November, as this is one of my weeks off, I also have maybe 2 or 3 lieu days that Iíd probably like to add on to the end of the holiday at home to re acclimatise. I would have liked to have had two weeks there but all my holidays are now locked for this year. If you have any other dates that you think would be better for a first timer Iíd be pleased to know. Iíd like to stay anywhere on the west bank ideally, as Iím really keen on visiting all the ancient sites there particularly Malqata. Iím not fussed about racing here and there to spend a few minutes looking at the pyramids or Karnak temple, I just want to get to what I can get to in the time allowed and just soak it all in.

If Egypt is a good as I hope (and as you have described) it is, Iíve got many visits to travel all over eventually. To be honest, just to be there on the west bank for a week sat out looking at the Theban hills would be just fine for me, heaven even!
As I said this would really be a first for me, and any advice or knowledge you can provide whilst Iím going through this process would be fantastic.

Iím currently doing extra shifts to start saving up which I guess is my first step, so I may be a little slow writing or getting to any messages.
I did laugh though when you told me to forget wearing the galabeya! Thinking about it, youíre so right although Iíd probably pass with the colour, my features, walk, and Yorkshire accent would probably be a dead giveaway!
Iím going to start looking round at some apartments this weekend when Iíll have more time, and try to find return flights that donít include a night stopover in Cairo.
Do any of you know any good apartments or the like on the west bank that you can recommend before I start looking?
Thanks Hekat also for the link, Iím going to have a good read this weekend as I see itís quite long. Iíll also probably end up pestering Tim (was that really a good idea suggesting I contact him!) for information too!!
In fact thinking about it, Hekat Ė Priest of Hekat...... are you both married?
Anyway, sukran gidann for the replies again, and I will take you up on the offer to PM you (Barry?) as Iím going to need all the help I can get!
All the best, James.
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Hekat
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes James we are married & living in Luxor. Early November sounds just about perfect for a first trip. We live on the West Bank & the sight of the Theban Hills is truly magical.

Don't worry about the Yorkshire accent, you will blend in well, we know 2 locals who have them (& they are both Egyptian born & bred!)

One thing I would say is that if you have not been abroad for a very long time it can be quite a culture shock. Egypt more so than many places Laughing

Don't worry about eating out, it's the money that is dirty & carries the germs not the food. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer with you & use it whenever you handle money. Eat & drink without worry.

Self catering is not as easy as you might think here. Shopping for essentials was my main concern before I moved over here, but luckily we had a lot of advice from friends & had made many visits. We tend to shop a couple of times a month in the supermarkets on the East Bank (we have a car) There are no supermarkets (as you know them) on the West Bank, there are a couple of small ones slightly smaller than your average UK convenience store, but not very obvious & with limited stock. Very little is priced & if it is it's normally in Arabic & 1 supermarket (who caters primarily for tourists) is a real rip off merchant! Fresh meat hangs in the doorway of the local butcher & he cuts a piece off, never bought any I must admit Sad Veg are good but seasonal. There is a wonderful new baker tucked down a side street though Very Happy

I think you are wise to consider B & B in one of the West Bank hotels, don't know Beit Sabee guest house but their location & reviews look good. The prices gave me a shock when you compare it to most of the ones on the West Bank Marsam, Scherezade, Amun, El Mesala, Nakhil etc. They are all quite small & Marsam in particular is often used by the dig teams. They would probably be cheaper than a flat & you would have as much personal space as you like.

Transport is another issue, don't expect buses, it is all service buses, without any bus stops or signs, or taxis. As you like walking that should not be an issue, the Marsam in particular is right by the ticket office & within easy distance of most West Bank antiquities (except Seti 1 & VOK)

I don't want to sound negative but it is a holiday not a boot camp & you want to be able to relax & enjoy it. Eating out is cheap & good.
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tuthmosis
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanksí for that Hekat,
All this planning seems a little mind blowing to me, none of my friends/family have this much trouble when theyíve been away for their holidays.
I think itís because Iím limited to the days I want to travel, and because I specifically know what I want to do and where I want to go when I get there and not be part of a tour.
Iíve had a look at countless flights, and the only ones I can find (which also incidentally seem to be the cheapest) on the days I wish to travel are with Lufthansa. MAN-FRA-CAI-LXR and the return goes via MUC, but it means I get to Luxor all in the same day which I wouldnít by any of the other airlines. confused2
Itís a little disconcerting for me to think about all those aircraft changes, particularly for someone who hasnít done it before, but I guess we all have to start somewhere. Shocked
So far the actual where to stay hasnít figured yet as Iím still trying to get flights,but Iíve been looking at a variety of places you suggested including the Marsam, Scherezade and El Masala hotels and several self catering flats and villas.
Iíve added them all to my favourites so I can have a good look when I finally get my flight sorted. I must admit though, Iím leaning toward the El Masala as it seems to have had great reviews. Iíve also just received a basic Egyptian Arabic learning CD, so I can attempt to at least try and fit in best I can. Iím looking forward to actually being in Egypt and being able to have a good wander round at all the sites.
I envy you so much though living out there, youíre so fortunate! Smile

All the best, James.
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Hekat
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're welcome Smile

That does sound like a nightmare with the flights. We just do the Monday or Wednesday with Easyjet or Egyptair. We're off tomorrow to the UK, returning Wed 21st. Wouldn't it just be easier to hop to Heathrow or Gatwick & fly direct to Luxor on the Monday, especially if you have a couple of extra days spare?

Won't have internet access in UK but if you want to PM either of us we can give you a locals opinion of some of the places you plan on staying when we get back. e.g. Mesala has just had a pool installed, but moved restaurant up 2 flights of stairs, has a stunning view over Luxor temple though. Don't know whether these are factors for you.

Enjoy your planning
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:05 am    Post subject: ((((((((((((((((((UPDATE!)))))))))))))))))))))))))) Reply with quote

Hi Guyís,
Just to let you know that Iíve finally managed to arrange my flights and hotel!!
Iíll be on my way to Egypt finally at the beginning of November and will be flying from Manchester via Frankfurt and Cairo to Luxor for the week!
I never did manage to find direct flights on a Sunday to Luxor but did manage to get connecting flights by Lufthansa from MAN-CAI. I then had to book Egypt Air internal flights from/to Luxor.
Itís a lot of travelling, but as Iíve previously said itís an experience Iíve never done on my own before so Iím looking forward to it.
I finally decided to book into the El Mesala on the west bank as they seem to have had some really good reviews. The hotel was very prompt in answering my emails and all my questions and I canít wait to go!
My new passport only took two weeks to return to me as I forgot that I did previously have a passport when I was 15 (the last time I went on holiday!!) I also sent as much identifiable information (N.I. card, driving licence etc) to save them asking me for them.
Iím currently in the process of buying cotton clothes (thanks for the advice Priest Of Hekat!) and Iím hoping to get everything in just one bag as Iíd like to just have hand luggage if possible.
Long term parking at MAN is sorted and the only things I need to sort now are getting my injections, which Iíve been told I should have 4-8 weeks before I go and some spending money.
The weather here in the UK since April has been absolutely shocking and a week has not passed without it absolutely bombing it down with rain! Iím actually sat here and our central heating has just kicked in... In July!! Never thought Iíd say it but roll on November!

All the best, James.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi James, looks like a long flight. We are going the opposite way 31st Oct but direct to Heathrow just for 1 week. I'm sure you will like El Mesala the view is superb right opposite Luxor Temple & they have a pool now & their food is pretty good too. Smile

We have a friend from 1 of the other West Bank hotels in the UK at the moment & she has had 20 days of rain in her 3 weeks there! She comes home tomorrow so we will look out for the webbed feet Laughing

If you want any info feel free to PM but I may be a while getting back as we are off to the Red Sea for a short break Wednesday.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Hekat,

Yeah it's going to be interesting if nothing else catching 3 aircraft! I think it's the waiting round in the airports between flights thats going to be a pain (unless i'm delayed!)

I'm really looking forward to staying at the El Mesala, it looks like a nice quiet hotel which is what I'm really looking for. Hopefully it will be as good as it looks because I'll be wanting to take family next time I go, and I wouldn't want the hassle of trying to find another hotel!

I can assure you, your friend will be glad she's home when she gets back as the weather has been really atrocious! People are already talking about this year as being the year without a summer!

Thanks for all your help and advice, I'll probably ask you for some more closer to the time as I'm still trying not to get too excited about the trip!

Have fun out at the Red Sea (very lucky people!! Very Happy )

All the best, James.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Had a great time, especially as we were able to use the Wadi Hammamat Road both ways & stopped at some of the rock carvings on the way back. Too hot to spend long there (44C in the shade) unfortunately there wasn't any shade! Laughing
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

so glad to here people are going to visit egypt especially after the revolution and all. i wish you all the best. i hope you have a wonderful time. and please come back and tell us all about it. i am even slightly jealous that you are going to egypt i love to go back. but i cant atamoment. have a great time i dont think your ever the same after visiting egypt. i mean that in a good way.
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tuthmosis
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

theegyptologyblogger wrote:
so glad to here people are going to visit egypt especially after the revolution and all. i wish you all the best. i hope you have a wonderful time. and please come back and tell us all about it. i am even slightly jealous that you are going to egypt i love to go back. but i cant atamoment. have a great time i dont think your ever the same after visiting egypt. i mean that in a good way.


Thanks for the kind words there blogger!

I'm starting to get proper excited now with only 3 months to go. I'm
Going to the doctors on Monday to book for my injections and that will be the last official thing I need to do. I've got a bunch of clothes all cotton and one warm jumper as I'm told it can be a little cool sometimes in November early/late in the day. I'm thinking about taking my GoPro HD camera with me and strap it to my back pack to document the trip so other "first timers" can see what its like traveling to Egypt.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hekat wrote:
Had a great time, especially as we were able to use the Wadi Hammamat Road both ways & stopped at some of the rock carvings on the way back. Too hot to spend long there (44C in the shade) unfortunately there wasn't any shade! Laughing


Hi Hekat,

Glad you had a great time going through the wadi Hammamat, its one of the places I'd love to visit, 44C is way too hot though!

I'm getting excited about the trip now and I'm really ready for the break as I've been working so hard to pay for it. (Hence why I've not been around) Have you any suggestions on what to take money wise, and how much should I roughly take? Should I order Egyptian £ now or wait until I arrive?
I think wondering about what to take is the most challenging part so far of planning the trip.

Anyway, how are you doing, and are you planning any more trips back to blighty?

Jim.
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