Subject: Luxor Egypt
Hi Ziners,

Yesterday we came back from a trip to Luxor Egypt. We had been there last year and because we were there only a week we decided to go back for another week this year. There is just so much to see and do there that a week is too short. So, now we went back for another week which appeared to be too short again so hopefully we will be able to go for another trip in the future. Just like last year we stayed in the famous Winter Palace Hotel which has a very central location and a very interesting history. People like Agatha Christie and Winston Churchill stayed there and King Farouk had his own suite there. ( a housekeeper showed us this suite; really interesting).

During the last year we had kept contact with a young man (he is 23) who sails a sailing boat which they call Felluca in Egypt. They sail these Feluccas over the Nile and last year we spend 2 afternoons sailing with Alla, as his name is. So, this year he already expected us and we bought him a fleece sweather for a present because in wintertime it can be cold at nights (it is a dessert climate) and he was so happy and he invited us to have dinner with him and his family.

So, later in that week we went and that was an amazing experience! We went with a small boat to the other shore of the river Nile and there a sort of taxi-van picked us up (a car without windows or any luxury) and we drove to a small village with houses made from mud and clay and very narrow streets with no lights at all. We had to be really carefull not to step into something because they have many donkeys walking around so many "droppings" everywhere...We went into his house and it appeared to be a 2-room house and his father, mother and sister were waiting for us. His father an old man with a white beard and on his head some sort of hat made of a scarf and a white dress on and his mother a very small woman completely covered in black and his sister a very pretty girl with a friendly face and also very small and she had a beautiful blue dress on and a black scarf covering her hair. Nowone spoke one word of english so we smiled and smiled. We went with Alla in his room and there we sat. Arabic music on a cassette player, a picture of some sort of sheikh at the wall and some Koran texts and that was it. After some time his mother and sister came and put a huge amount of food in front of us and we thought that the whole family was going to eat that with us but it was for just my husband and me and for Alla. Needless to say we didn't eat it all! They were not very satisfied with the fact that we ate only little but for our standards we really ate a lot already! After dinner his mom and sister came to join us and the smiling started again. At 9 PM we were brought back to the Nile again, this time with a taxi van with a man with a huge rifle in his hand and with these Arabic clothes and hat on, very special I must say!! These men are security-men to protect the villages Alla told us. At half past 9 we were back in our hotel and it was very strange to be in the normal world again!!

Also we went with a car with driver to the beautiful temples of Edfu and Esna and to go there we had to join a convoy because they protect tourists against terrorism. (with good reason as everybody might have heard this weekend) That was also quite an experience! In our car (with driver) came a policeman with a huge rifle which he forgot every time he went out of the car and he was so happy to practice some english with us. Really funny. On the way back the convoy didn't show up and because the police found that so bad for us they called for a private convoy and so we went 60 kilometers with a policecar with their lights and sounds on back to Luxor, it felt as if we we were some kind of VIPs!!

We also made a 1 day cruise to the temple of Dendera and that was also a great experience; sailing along the Nile river with the rural life at both sides!! The cruise ship was very comfortable with even a pool and lunch was provided and appeared to be very good. The temple of Dendera is really worth visiting; you can still see colourful paintings from more than 2000 years ago!! Amazing! The name of the Felluca of our friend Alla is : The Lady Jane and this boat has its place just in front of the Luxor temple, next to the Metropolitan cafe. Because there are so many Felluca-boats there and many of the sailors are not really to trust when it comes to paying, I can recommend Alla.

Regards, Marianne Netherlands