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Nile Bike Ride Journal

Free Day

Saturday 17th February, Luxor (0 km)

... Well, we did spend about an hour and a half walking around Luxor, so technically we did do some km today...

This morning there was an optional excursion to the Valley of the Queens, but Jason and I had decided not to go to this, as it was our only chance for a lie-in. Unfortunately for me, my body wasn't sure about the lie-in concept, and I was up at 6:30am. I was suffering with the cold and I knew that being vertical would make me feel better. I suppose my body was also used to the early starts, so I never stood a chance!

Got out of bed very quietly, picked up my camera and a book and went out of the room, leaving Jason peacefully sleeping. I was planning to go up and deck and watch the sun rise (it was still not quite light), but the exit was locked up, so that plan was scuppered. I did find that the door at the end of the bar was open, and I went out onto the mini-deck there, but it wasn't much of a vantage point. Took the picture shown on the right and went back to our room.

Read for a while - the first chance I'd had to read all week. Managed to get through Dostoyevsky's 'A Nasty Story' before breakfast. Slipped out of the room again and made my way to the restaurant. Ate some breakfast myself, and grabbed a few sticky croissants for Jason, as I didn't know whether or not he would be up in time for breakfast. Turned out he was, and after eating these croissants he went upstairs for a second breakfast.

I was keen to go into Luxor and have a look around, and Jason, Susan, Lesley and I decided to do just this. The man at the boat's reception told us to leave the boat and turn right, and with no plan in mind other than this, we set off. We soon found ourselves wandering through deepest darkest Luxor, and almost immediately a local man decided to accompany us on our walk. This man proved quite keen on Susan, so she told him that Jason was her husband. This became the running joke of the morning!

We were vaguely looking for the tourist market, but without a proper map we were doomed, and we ended up in the locals market. This was an interesting experience! The streets were narrow, with stalls crowded into every possible space. Any areas of pavement that weren't covered with merchandise were filled with noisy Egyptians.

All around us there were strange arrays of meat and vegetables, flapping chickens in cages and in hands, boys lovingly carrying chicks around, and all kinds of previously unseen parerphernalia. Although the streets were narrow, there were cars, vans and horses-and-cars trying to get through all at once, and we dodged one traffic jam after another. There was barely room for the four of us to weave our way through, and once we got to some space and fresh air I felt quite exhausted!

At this point we tried to find our way to the tourist market using a map, and eventually we got there, but by some strange logic this market was closed on Saturdays. Every couple of minutes a local would come up to us and shout "Carriage?!", trying to get us to take a ride. They didn't seem to believe us when we said we were just walking. We did find a small market, and amid cries of "To be or not to be" and "no hassle!" we walked through, but no-one felt inspired to make any purchases.

We had to find our own lunch today (shock horror!), and after some discussion sitting on a set of steps opposite Luxor Station we decided that the safest bet would be to head for an "English pub" we'd heard of. This was called the King's Head, and was reputed to serve toasted sandwiches and chips. After 5 days of beef and chicken I'd been craving a cheese sandwich for some time, so this sounded like a good idea to me!

On our way to the pub, Jason became acquainted with a carriage driver whose name appeared to be Mohammed Ali, or Brian in English. We arranged for him to take us back to the boat when we had finished our lunch.

The "pub" was on the second floor, and we were pestered by some of the traders whose shops were underneath on our way in, but we made it safely there. The place was only slightly tacky; more worrying was that we were the only customers in the place, and no-one else came in the whole time we were there. The food was quite nice. I happily munched my toasted cheese sandwich and chips, Lesley her pizza, Jason his sausage omelette with tomato ketchup (the latter being Jason's own particular craving for half of the week), and Susan her club sandwich.

As we left the pub we were dragged into a carpet shop - did we look people in need of a new carpet?! The trader made various comments to Jason along the lines of "Ah, you are just one man and you have three women - you must be very strong- you must be very tired". Jason wasn't denying anything! We managed to escape from the carpet school when the trader made the mistake of mentioning that he had t-shirts for sale downstairs - we legged it!

By now, Jason and Susan were well settled into the whole marriage thing, and while browsing in the shops were heard to make remarks like "That would look good in the bedroom, wouldn't it dear?". Scary stuff. Lesley finally got hold of the saffron she'd been after, but was "persuaded" to buy several other items as well. I bought a wooden crocodile for Mike, to go with the plastic crocodile called Barry that he already owns (don't ask!). We thought we'd lost Lesley forever, but eventually she emerged with her goods and we set off to find Mohammed Ali (aka Brian).

He was dutifully waiting for us, and after a little haggling over the price we climbed in and began our bumpy ride back to the boat. Mohammed Ali was very enthusiastic about the fact that Jason was Irish, and cried "Welcome Irish!" and "Irish - yeeeha!" for most of the journey. The rest of the time he spent telling "lovely Susie" how beautiful she was and what a lucky woman she was, and trying to convince us that we wanted to book him to take us out again later.

When we got to the boat, Mohammed Ali wasn't at all happy when we refused to pay him more than we had agreed to, despite his pleas that it had been a long journey and his demands for "baksheesh for the horse", who was very tired and hungry. His cheerful spirit vanished and he scowled at us as he drove away.

Back on the boat, our minds turned to our acts for the evening's Gala Night. I did a little bit of singing in the cabin and decided that I had recovered from my cold sufficiently to sing, and set about trying to find a pianist to accompany me. Jason tried to persuade me to write a comedy sketch about the week's ride, but when I told him repeatedly that I really wasn't capable of writing comedy, he set about the task himself.

So Susan, Jason and I began to write the sketch. Connor later joined us, having just made it out of bed. He'd been suffering from the Pharoah's Revenge, and didn't look at all well. I'd held out all day so far, but after about an hour of sitting on deck with the others, my stomach finally got the better of me and I was forced to retire to the cabin. I spent the rest of the afternoon lying in bed with... well, let's make this multiple choice:

  • (a) A mindblowingingly gorgeous lover attending to my every need
  • (b) A smile on my face and a song in my heart
  • (c) excruciating stomach pains and a bin by the side of the bed
The answer, of course, is (c) - and in my agony I could hear the laughter of Jason, Connor, Susan and Lesley from up on the deck, just to make me feel even better.

Afternoon turned to evening, and I still felt rotten. (This picture was actually taken the previous evening, but a picture of me in my sick bed wouldn't have been very entertaining.) I took some pills, but my condition didn't improve, and I didn't make it to dinner. I was determined to get out of bed to see at least some of the acts at the Gala Night, so at about 9:30 I dragged myself up the stairs to the bar.

Despite being half asleep and still in pain, I enjoyed the evening. Jason, Connor and Gordon had put together a fantastic skit that had everyone in the room in stitches. This was bad news for my cough and my stomach, but did wonders for my state of mind! After this act was over, I was forced to go back to bed. It was around 11pm by this time, and we were scheduled to get up and have breakfast at 5am, a prospect I was really not looking forward to. Unfortunately, although I snoozed and dozed a bit, I didn't really get to sleep until about 3am, and it was clear that tomorrow was not going to be the best day of my life.

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