corniche el Nile



Sofitel Sharm el Sheik


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February 18, 2003:

There was a scheduling conflict, so we have another day at leisure in Luxor. We were supposed to leave for Sharm in the morning, but the flight was delayed until afternoon.

A lazy day on the Nile
We didn't do much, just hung around in the lounge and downloaded all the pictures (we're at about 2500 so far) into the computer and packed up, did a little last minute shopping to get gifts for people in the many shops by the hotel, and purchased another piece of cheap luggage to haul it all home in. I have no idea what happened to all my stuff. It expanded. I swear it.

We met at 3pm with our escorts for a relaxing felucca ride. Feluccas are tall, single-masted boats with a triangular sail. They look like chinese barqs, about 25; long, with an 8' beam. The captain of our boat was very nice, and wanted to discuss politics with us -- mostly about the feared upcoming war with Iraq that the US was threatening. He asked us about US views on Islam, and was very interested in our opinion of Egypt.

Everyone asked about Bush and war, it seems. They are all very concerned about it. We keep apologizing. Their opinion? Bush is "not smart" and "How is he elected president?" I don't know, friend. Don't ask me.

Our felucca captain (Hamam, of the felucca ALASKA), said he was a captain for Hillary Clinton when she visited Egypt. The Old Winter Palace made the arrangements (including all the security for the secret service, etc).

He offered us tea, which his boy -- we don't know if it was his son or just a hireling from the docks -- made in a coffee-can stove in the middle of the boat. It was very relaxing, and very quiet.

That's one of the things we noticed most about Luxor -- it is eerily quiet in some places and the slow currents of the Nile are not interrupted by many motors. Most of the cruise ships are docked (sometimes five deep!) and other than the occasional loud blat of the ferry engine, most boats on the water are sailboats. It's peaceful.

A very grumpy lady from NJ in the lobby today -- just irate about mailing something home. She told someone to wait for her at the desk while she retrieved the item she wanted to mail, and when she returned 15 minutes later, he wasn't waiting there on the spot she left him. She paraded around the lobby demanding that someone deal with her problem right this minute because she was a guest here, dammit. It was embarrassing.

People Watching
Since the flight was delayed even later, we sat on the corniche and watched the boats tie up for the evening, and watched the sun set on the cliffs of the west bank. It was a beautiful night, and we had drinks and a sandwich at an open air cafe, The Metropolitan, on the corniche while watching the people. We had a very nice waiter who flirted shameless and apologized continuously about it. Mark ordered "scary meat" -- shawarma -- from the open barbecue thingy that they fired up just for him. Me, well, I was going to avoid any food I couldn't immediately identify inside it's safe, germ-free, cellophane environment. At least for a few more days.

A german tourist walked by with a blue short sleeved shirt with a white longer-sleeved shirt under it. It matched his white knee socks, black dress shoes and khaki shorts. Oy! There are so many europeans here. Lots of French tourists in short and tank tops. Why on earth all the Italian women wear high heels to sightsee is beyond me. Mark says it's because it's more important to be seen that to see things. It looks really uncomfortable.

The flight to Sharm el Sheikh is short, and the landing is windy, which is always exciting. They have been having sandstorms pretty regularly, so everything is hazy and gritty. Our hotel is a resort on the bay, with tier after tier of rooms. The rooms all look the same, so if you miss the sign to your set of room numbers, you could wander around lost for hours.

There are beautiful beaches here, two of them private to the resort. It's still pretty chilly to be out in the water, but the night is cool and clear. After dinner, we walk around the grounds of the hotel and, since we aren't really "club" people, we have a drink and go to bed.

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