The Visit.

Get the best advice about your holiday in Luxor.

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A-Four
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The Visit.

Post by A-Four » Wed Apr 15, 2015 1:47 pm

The Visit.

It has now been two years since I last wrote a personal view on my findings and how I see things in Luxor. Each year, I visit the town twice, at the start and end of season, and spend at least one month there on each visit.

Although I have read on here many times as to how a lack of tourism has seriously effected the wealth of the city, I saw little evidence of this, on the contrary it seems much wealthier, but to me this fact seems to have had an adverse effect on the city. For example I see far more cars, often high valued, this has effected the city in what I believe a number of ways. I see vehicles parked throughout many main streets, which prevents correct cleaning, and much rubbish is prevented from collections on a daily basis, this perhaps accounts why either side of roads a fine layer of dust is evident, especially so on St Joseph St and those that run parallel to it. The air within the city seems far more polluted than it ever was, but most noticeable to everyone who visits now, must be that it is not easy to find that perfect sun rise or sun set each and every day. It seems as though they are effected by dust in the air, yes, I could say smog, though I do not think its that bad yet, the many fires these days on the WB do not help, especially when the tourist hotel swimming pools in Luxor are littered with fragments of black burnt paper, which was never evident in the past.

Early morning I would take a stroll through many of the roads towards Television Street, I noticed that the very poor of the city emptied out the contents of the very large rubbish bins in search of anything of value, leaving the area full of rubbish of every type, then some one would come along with sheep and goats to forage through, then came the cats and dogs, finely between 8 and 9 a.m., came the bin men who made a very poor attempt to clear away what remained. Never, anywhere else have I seen such a disgusting site in Egypt, that is so near to where tourists walk.

Karnack town seems little changed, which is to be expected really, I noticed that the main tourist shopping centre near the Temple looks somewhat run down. Th government have sold the whole shopping area to a certain man in the town, and is now charging its tenants extortionist rents, a usual crafty move by the government, who have of course now closed the large duty free shop there.

I have always loved the walk from the front of the main temple along the outer wall to the South Gate, little changed in twenty five years, though still great evidence of how the then government conned local business men that this was to be the future tourist route. The recently "restored" Mut Temple is a very poor example of many years work by this American team, on a number of "visits" throughout those years, I notice that a number of large beautiful decorated pieces are simply not there any more?, unless you are totally enthusiastic about the place, I would not bother.

I walked from here to the once so called Susan Mubarak Centre, along the Sacred Avenue, here I discovered an observation platform where tourist buses will pull up in the future, and I fear this will be the only opportunity for them to view the wonderful link from one temple to the other.

As you walk through what I call the "golden mile" down the Cornische South, to the old Etap Hotel, we now see very strong evidence of future change, that probably was not so clear two years ago. There are now two cul de sac roads from this area, where tour buses will collect visitors after arriving from the WB, and perhaps visit Luxor Museum (now 100 LE.) these tourists will then be driven within a zone that most locals would not have access to. It is very clear to me that this whole area will be cleared of local riff raff. This is already evident, by the fact that police are placed 24 hours a day at all entrance positions. It may even be so in the future, that tourists are dropped off at the old entrance to Luxor Temple and collected at what was the exit in the past, then returning by the same route crossing the bridge at the old Susan Mubarak Centre, and never entering old Luxor Town.

One late evening I was looking over to the WB from Luxor Museum at where once, for awhile the tourist port was situated. it's known as Gazerra Gourna, the lights from here resembled how Gazerra itself once looked, not so long ago. In the medium term this will return to use, along with its ticket office, which I hope some of you will remember. Now as you look over towards Gazierra it's self, it looks like a huge Chistmas tree on fire, with all its bright totally out of character lighting.

I have read on this site at various times over the past two years that all the locals will be kicked out of central Luxor, this is simply not true, but there will be a "Berlin Wall", that is already in place. All areas from Karnack Temple to Luxor Temple that is west of the Avenue of Sphinx to the Nile will be a tourist zone, ex-pats will certainly not want to visit this area, being that even a cup of tea will be the same price as it now cost at present day other tourist zones in Egypt, that has no hassle. Any one who stands on the eastern side of the Avenue can see that this is already taking shape, with trees and well decorated buildings.

Further along the Cornische, the railings along the road near to the ferry, are not there for tourist pleasure, but instead to ensure that those walking across the road towards the Emillio will do so at the junction where the old Nina Palace once stood. In the future none of this area even up to the so called Rowing Club will be part of the official tourist zone, but have been told that these railings will be extended as far as the old Metropolitan for 'safety' reasons.

During my last recent visit, I discovered that, opposite the "Rowing Club"you will see a very ornate set of iron gate complete with lamps either side. This was the first time that I realised that the old British Consulates building is still standing. The really funny memories that holds, though I must admit, nothing compared to some of the hysterical moments Mr Gaddis had to put up with,........trying to please everyone, in the end pleasing no one, ah well, that's present day Luxor for you.

From the old Nova Hotel up to The Sheraton, the once daily cleaned windowed, well stocked shops, now seem dull, many open for a few hours or don't bother at all. To me it seems that the enthusiasm to get you through there doors has gone, even the taxi drivers give little interest, though what few horse carriage remain along this stretch are just as vicious as before. I questioned one such driver, that I saw more Egyptian tourists using them than ever before, "Some money is better than no money". Perhaps the best statement I have ever heard come out of the mouth of such people, and a fact that they are all going to have to learn very quickly, pity such values were not around a few years ago.

Each and every morning I saw buses of all shapes and sizes standing outside the large hotels either side of my own, taking mainly Indian or Chinese tourists off to sites, airport or travelling on to either Asswan or the Red Sea. Most tourists in Luxor are there for three days or less, if they stay at these hotels, as a rule arrive in the evening, given a rather strict warning of the horrors that awaits them outside, work them to death while there and charge top $ for everything in between,............plus EVERYTHING is receipted,.......... "music" to the ears of Egyptian Government.

I know of one restaurant, that saw the future, an old Egyptian mate and his wife who live part time in Luxor and South London U.K., this place is huge. He makes money from the usual day trippers from Hurgarda, but the big money is coming in from Chinese tourists who, believe it or not are bused into his restaurant from local large hotels, which includes the Old Winter Palace, simply because these quite rich people will NOT accept the usual Western meals,............. I think it was Samir Faragg an ex-governor who, several years ago, told hotel in Luxor to change their toilet facilities to fit Eastern comfort, not one did so.

I noticed what I call the 'over priced European restaurants' seemed to be doing fair business from ex-pats, a few tourists, and of course repeat tourists, like myself, but for the life of me can not understand why a couple of new ones have opened, when some of the others are opening part time, or thinking of " throwing in the towel". Some are offering quite excellent food, though prices have increased dramatically, but that is to be expected with such high inflation. It should be evident to all these days that the future of Luxor is to be much more different than the past, there will be the old repeat tourists like myself, but even we will be fewer each year.

To the south side of Kom Ombo Temple was once a road that lead to the town, where then was a fantastic market, today that road is totally blocked off, modern tourist would be forgiven for thinking that there is no large town there at all. Although future tourists in Luxor will see the main city from a distance, they will be discouraged from using it, similar as today. Even the cruise boats have re-introduced Dendera as a determination to keep its tourists under strict control. I for ever read on this forum that there are no tourists in Luxor, I suggest you look towards the WB each morning and check how many balloons are in the sky during season.

I think the present governor of Luxor, like all previous will find it very difficult to make the people change their ways, quite honestly it is not going to happen, and that is why I believe the whole of the tourist zone will be central government funded, and all proceeds from it will go direct to Cairo, similar to all site visits that occur now. Who would have ever believed twenty years ago that up to a thousand tourists a day come from the Red Sea, and yet not one of them buys anything.I believe that that the term 'Some money is better than no money', is an expression that most ex-pats in Luxor who are in business must learn, as I look through prices for stays on the WB, they are mostly a joke, with the exception to the long established hotels there.

With regards to ex-pats, who are not of retirement age, I understand there will be a central government determination to discourage such people from remaining there. Think of that what you will, I am simply saying what I have been told. For those who are repeat tourist, I think it is important to realise that there is not one hotel in Luxor that is part of an international company, therefore standards should not be expected to be as on previous visits. For those that live away from the old main tourist parts of Luxor, things will remain as it always has been, that never really change, a simple life, a gentile lifestyle, the sun rises, the sun set, what more do you want,..........Others, I fear should look elsewhere.

A-Four.



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Re: The Visit.

Post by Mad Dilys » Wed Apr 15, 2015 2:27 pm

Are the Hilton and the Sheraton no longer International A4? 8)
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Re: The Visit.

Post by A-Four » Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:03 pm

Mad Dilys wrote:Are the Hilton and the Sheraton no longer International A4? 8)
Sorry to say MD, like Sofitel who up until recently did the day to day running of the Old Winter Palace has pulled out, I can only assume that they have told their Egyptian hotel owners that no matter how low the room occupancy is, they still must keep a set standard, this is simply the case.

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Re: The Visit.

Post by Kaiserbernese » Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:23 pm

Can the same be said about the Sonesta St George and the Steinberger Nile Palace too?

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Re: The Visit.

Post by Dusak » Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:38 pm

Mad Dilys wrote:Are the Hilton and the Sheraton no longer International A4? 8)
The Hilton was bought out some seven years ago by four wealthy business men, Japanese, Saudi, I do not know what the other two nationalities are. They paid an extortionate $ price from the Hilton group to retain the name. Hardly ever used since it reopened. Imported single gin and tonic was 115Le three years back.

As for new restaurants, opposite the main entrance to Karnak temple [the first street facing] you have a new one called The Sports Rest Bar. Next door two new restaurants are under construction.
Life is your's to do with as you wish- do not let other's try to control it for you. Count Dusak- 1345.

A-Four
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Re: The Visit.

Post by A-Four » Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:57 pm

Kaiserbernese wrote:Can the same be said about the Sonesta St George and the Steinberger Nile Palace too?
Neither of these two are on the international label or standard, in fact the owner of Sonesta cleared off to America for a while during the troubles, and was taken into administration. He is now back running the place, though I know there are a lot of difficult questions he still has to answer. The Sonesta is privately owned by an Egyptian called Mamdour Phillip.

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Re: The Visit.

Post by Major Thom » Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:57 pm

Brilliant Synopsis A4....

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Re: The Visit.

Post by Brian Yare » Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:57 pm

A-Four wrote:Karnack town seems little changed, which is to be expected really, I noticed that the main tourist shopping centre near the Temple looks somewhat run down. Th government have sold the whole shopping area to a certain man in the town, and is now charging its tenants extortionist rents, a usual crafty move by the government, who have of course now closed the large duty free shop there.

I have not looked yet, but the Karnak DFS was still operating earlier this year. The one near KFC was alive and well this morning but with very little choice!

Brian

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Re: The Visit.

Post by A-Four » Wed Apr 15, 2015 11:30 pm

Brian Yare wrote:
A-Four wrote:Karnack town seems little changed, which is to be expected really, I noticed that the main tourist shopping centre near the Temple looks somewhat run down. Th government have sold the whole shopping area to a certain man in the town, and is now charging its tenants extortionist rents, a usual crafty move by the government, who have of course now closed the large duty free shop there.

I have not looked yet, but the Karnak DFS was still operating earlier this year. The one near KFC was alive and well this morning but with very little choice!

Brian
I assure you Brian it has closed, from what I understand there were many complaints from tourist who arrived in taxis in the evening, when stopped by the police within the Karnack complex, that they 'advised' tourists through their driver that they expected back sheesh for allowing them through. The main reason though was because where this shop was positioned, few tourist went by, therefore it was thought by placing this store there it would encourage tourist into that ill used area within the complex.

I suspect the real reason why the present duty free place near KFC is kept low in items is because an old mate from years ago, Hamdy by name, who first started out in business transporting tourist now has at least twenty 'hotels' in Luxor, and I am certain that he would prefer all tourist to buy his rather more expensive booze, by the measure. He also has the 'ear' of Cairo, and I certainly do not mean the Governor of Luxor.

The duty free at Luxor airport is run by EgyptAiir, the one near KFC is run by the government, or should I say who is in the pocket of the government,................you might if you look carefully notice, they are the same old staff from the old days, when there place was next to The Emillio Hotel.

I always remember Stan saying on here a few years ago that he found it easy to get an extra supply from this place, I was using this place like a supermarket at least twenty years before then, and without any back-sheesh.

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Re: The Visit.

Post by Major Thom » Thu Apr 16, 2015 12:06 pm

Well Ragab Brothers have been closed down until further notice, probably until they get a license.

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