Cadogan Guide: Cairo, Luxor, Aswan
had never found a Cadogan guide before, but it cropped
up on a list of travel books at Edward R. Hamilton
Booksellers and, like a true compulsive bibliophile,
I bought it. This book was written by Michael Haag,
who is the author of a number of other travel books.
Covering the major tourist destinations of Cairo,
Luxor, and Aswan, this guide offers a detailed tour
of the major sites in each city. Each section emphasizes
the particular uniqueness of three cities: Cairo
in all it's big-city frenetic activity, relaxed and
laid-back Aswan, and the awesome archaeology of Luxor.
The book presents a well-grounded view of the historical
background for each city and the many sites within,
and gives that information in a straightforward style.
Each city area is presented with a brief history,
and the areas of the city are "walked through"
in a suggested tour that include suggestions for how
long to spend at the sites and how to get there. You
could easily tour the three cities simply by following
each chapter and following directions.
The entire book is filled with interesting tidbits
about the sites that gives a unique perspective to
Mark Twain, who led a party of tourists here in
the 1860s, attempted to escape [the touts and camel
drivers] by climbing to the top of Cheop's pyramid
but was pursued by an Arab, to whom he offered $1
if he could race to the top of Chephren's pyramid
and back to the top of Cheops' within nine minutes,
in the hope that the man would break his neck. Three
dollars later, an exasperated Twain, now joined by
the man's mother, offered them each $100 if they would
jump off the pyramid head first"
Perhaps not the nicest of offers, but it succinctly
captures the desperate sensation of being mobbed by
the hundreds of touts and drivers and sellers and
erstwhile guides around the pyramids.
The rest of the book is in the same style, and it
contains just enough history and details to be useful
to the serious site-hound, as well as some hints on
where to stay in each general area. This is probably
not the best book for the nuts and bolts of making
reservations, but it is a great reference nonetheless.
It would be a bit more useful if detailed maps accompanied
the walking tours; floor plans and diagrams are included
for major temples and tombs, however.