Journal: Sunday 5 December 2004
I woke this morning to look out at the Nile and the mountains. This will be my last early morning view for a while as it will be dark when I get up tomorrow. Sam was in a funny mood at breakfast and said she doesn’t want to do anything today. But while drinking our many breakfast cups of coffee we realised that we absolutely had to go and reconfirm our flight with Egyptair, which should have been done three days ago. Maybe they’ve given our seats to someone else by now……? I said I wanted to go to the museum and Sam decided she would come too.
Sam and I walked down to the Egyptair office by the Winter Palace Hotel and had to wait almost an hour for our turn. At least they have a numbered queuing system now – it used to be a free-for-all with the Egyptians pushing in front all the time. They still do this but it’s not quite so bad. They still have our seats reserved – oh well…
Feeling lazy we took a taxi to the museum and spent about three hours looking around and taking photos of almost every exhibit. I took a complete set of pictures of the Amenhotep IV talatat wall this time and they should come out really well with the digital camera. I panicked a little when I went upstairs and found they’d moved Amenhotep Son of Hapu, my favourite statue, but eventually I found him in the new section. This is the first time I’ve seen the finished new extension and I thought it was very well done. The architectural and scribal exhibits are especially interesting. I didn’t visit the royal mummies because I hate to look at the faces of kings who should be enjoying their eternal rest, not gawped at by tourists. A big banner outside the exhibit welcomes Rameses back home to Luxor but doesn’t mention poor Amenhotep. Finally we had a look in the bookshop but there was nothing new there and the new coffee shop isn’t open yet.
Back to the hotel around 2.00pm. I toyed with the idea of going over to the west bank to say a last farewell to the temples but didn’t go because I’d probably just end up at Habu again. I had some articles to read and notes to catch up on so I just went and sat out on the terrace for a couple of hours on my own, enjoying the sunshine and trying not to think about going home tomorrow.
We had invited Abdul and Salah out for a farewell meal and Abdul said he’d been recommended a new restaurant called Habiba, out towards the bridge. It’s owned by Blue Skies tour company and it’s a vast place by the river. We realised when we got there that it was really intended for coach loads of people (and we were the only ones there). They did a buffet meal, kept warm like in a hotel, which none of us were very keen to try, so we just had a lemon juice and left, much to the disgust of the manager. The decor in Habiba is beautiful – oriental in style which was obviously very expensively done and it was worth going just to see this. There were wonderful wall lamps and floor tiles and fabrics. Salah even surreptitiously took some pictures with his phone camera for ideas for his house he says he’s going to build. Eventually we ended up at Maxims again. Everyone was in a bit of a funny mood and nobody was saying much. Sam had raging toothache again and I still have a streaming cold, which didn’t help. Afterwards we went to the Etap (just for a change) and sat listening to Maha sing Arabic songs. Abdul and Salah kept getting a bit silly – I think it was their way of trying to cheer us up, though they wouldn’t share their jokes. There was one Omm Kulthoum song which they were both listening to intently. It was a love song about a man who will wait forever for his love. Watching the two men listening was so funny – Abdul had a big grin on his face and was obviously enjoying the music very much, while Salah had his face screwed up and looked like he was dying of an emotional overdose. You’d have thought they were listening to two totally different songs. This amused Sam & I greatly but they couldn’t understand what we found so funny. We left the Etap around 12.30am and dropped Salah at the ferry, then Abdul drove Sam and I back to the hotel. I didn’t get much sleep because I sat on the balcony until 2.30am, just taking in the never-sleeping sounds of Luxor.