Journal: Saturday 23 January 2010
Today Sam had arranged with the Luxor property letting company to have a look at some of the other villas and apartments on their books with a view to her next Egyptian trip and invited me to tag along for the ride. She was particularly interested to see what was available on the West Bank.
After picking up the two reps from their Luxor office we headed out of Luxor towards the bridge, but before crossing the river they insisted on showing us a new development just past the Moevenpick Hotel. The complex is called ‘Egyptian Experience’ and consists of several blocks of very well finished and highly priced apartments on the east bank of the Nile. Parking in the gardens, we went to have a look at a duplex apartment which was available to rent for short periods. The huge apartment on two levels with long balconies both sides, a roof terrace, large living area, kitchen and three bedrooms, was beautiful. It was spacious, light and airy and had fabulous views over the Nile. Perhaps it was suitable for several people sharing, but for Sam, 7000 EL a week was way out of her price range.
Our next stop, at a more reasonable rent, was a lovely house on the West Bank near the Ramesseum. As we drew close I realised I had visited the house before when a friend of mine had lived there for a while before the present owner bought it and I had fallen in love with it all those years ago. The owner was there to show us around and gave us a cup of tea in her beautiful garden full of flowering trees and brightly coloured bougainvillea. It was a paradise, but unfortunately would not be available at the times when Sam would want to rent it.
Our next stop was at Ramla, on the banks of the Nile near the ferry port. In the years since I used to stay on the West Bank at the Gezira Hotel just around the corner, a whole crop of new buildings have sprung up, stretching along the shoreline. Last time I was along here it was a muddy track that only camels used, where tourists could take rides along the river bank. The camels are still there, but now have smart new housing too. We were told that Luxor council have plans to build a new corniche along the West Bank and it has already smartened up considerably.
Many of the villas and apartments at Ramla are available to rent and we were shown several, some fairly average and others I wouldn’t feel comfortable in for one reason or another. I knew Sam was looking for something a little more special than the average Egyptian apartment that is often badly finished, sparsely furnished and rather gloomy. It wasn’t until we arrived at the last apartment that she found what she was looking for and I agreed, it would be a very comfortable place to stay. Whether it will be available when she wants it is another matter.
Then for something completely different. Our last stop was to have look at a dahabeya moored in the river which was available to hire for private cruises. This would be more my style and I could just imagine sailing south to Aswan in the beautiful old sailing boat, lounging on deck with a cool glass of something in my hand. I think there were half a dozen guest cabins all compact but well furnished and a larger master cabin that was quite splendid. There was a wood-panelled lounge and dining area and of course the upper deck where there were sun-beds and shady areas. We were told that the crew and all food and drink was included in the price of $120 per person per night. If enough people were interested it would be a good way to do a Nile cruise in a more leisurely way, stopping where we wanted and not being tied to any tour company itinerary. Aswan and back would take a week, so it wouldn’t be the cheapest Nile cruise on the market. Tempting, but not what Sam was looking for – at least we had seen it and it could be an idea for the future.
After stopping for a cold drink in a Ramla coffee shop we made our way back to the East Bank and home feeling quite exhausted, though neither of us could think why. It had been an interesting day and a good exercise in seeing what was available to rent. An apartment is so much cheaper than staying in a hotel for two or three weeks. When we arrived back at the Villa Mut the electricity was off again, surprise surprise! I began to think that maybe a hotel would be a better idea after all.