Africa / Egypt

Luxor from a different perspective

This is the second part of my Egypt stories. If you didn’t read the first one, here you can take a look: What it’s like being a videographer in Hurghada, Egypt. This is the story of how I traveled from Hurghada to Luxor and stayed at one of Egypt’s most prestigious resorts.

From Hurghada to Luxor

Background story

Do you recall Mr. Namazi? The gracious manager of the Hurghada hotel. He was once the manager of the Jolie Ville Luxor, a very luxurious resort in Luxor. I informed him I was heading to Luxor next but didn’t know where I was going to stay. Mr. Namazi had an idea. He promptly called the resort’s currents management and explained what I was doing in Egypt. He then asked if I might stay with them for one night. They agreed, much to my surprise. There was apparently going to be a large event there in the coming days. I couldn’t believe what was going on. Staying for free in Hurghada was already a blessing, but now it’s the same in the next city. I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude once more to Mr. Namazi and his team. They have been a total game changer for me on this journey.

Journey to Luxor

Anyway, it was time to leave Hurghada, so I packed my stuff and catched the next bus to Luxor. We started out in what felt like the middle of nowhere, with no houses or people in sight. We were pulled over in the middle of the road for a quick military checkpoint. The personnel were suprised when they saw a German passport on a guy like me, who could pass for Egyptian. Then we arrived at the Nile River, in the city of Qina, which looked lovely from the bus. We eventually arrived in Luxor after around 4 hours of driving.

A military checkpoint in the middle of nowhere

When I got off the bus, I had no idea I’d be welcomed with the typical Egyptian mayhem. Suddenly, I found myself in the center of the street, surrounded by people who were all shouting at each other. I needed to get to the hotel as soon as possible. I looked it up on the map, and it was on an island.  Or, more accurately, the entire island was the resort. This heightened my excitement, so I took the first taxi, having agreed on the fee beforehand.

Welcome to the resort

The reception

The island had a completely distinct environment. Plants were greener, and there were more trees and flowers everywhere, but it didn’t look fake. I proceeded to the reception desk and told them that Mr. Namazi had sent me here. They immediately understood what I was talking about. So the hotel manager and his director of sales arrived and we had a little conversation. They told me I should settle first and then receive a tour of the facility. I got my room keys, and they asked whether I was hungry, which I was. So they invited me to a shawarma in the garden, which overlooked the Nile.

Shawarma near the Nile hits different

Premium room for an ordinary man

After lunch, I was driven to my room in a golf cart?! Because the resort was so large, walking to certain locations could take a long time. After approximately 5 minutes of driving, I was dropped off at my accommodation. It was in a two-story building shaped like a flower petal. My room was on the first level. I walked up the stairs and into the room, which was more like an apartment. It contained a king-size bed and a balcony with views of the Nile. This was definitely not the type of accommodation I was used to. So I took some time to relax. Later I returned to the lobby to begin the tour of the island / hotel / resort.

Tour of the Island

I observed colorful flowers and various types of plants everywhere on my way to the lobby. The lawn maintenance was particularly excellent; everything appeared to be straight out of a storybook. So, the sales director and I briefly visited the resort’s premises, and I saw some pretty fascinating things.

Walking to the lobby with my friend

To begin with, the island had a restaurant near the pool. Well, it was kind of in the pool and lower than the water. That meant that you were sitting in the pool while eating. It also included a large gym with sophisticated fitness equipment. There was no one there, but I assume not many people care about the gym when there’s an infinity pool. If I recall properly, they told me that their pool was the largest infinity pool in Egypt. The sunset was beautiful, and the island was packed with cats, which is always a plus 🙂

Restaurant inside the pool

(Expensive) Dinner Time

When it became dark, I was told to eat dinner and then relax for the rest of the night. I got to the restaurant, and there was a long line of dishes with cooks serving you whatever you wanted. It all looked really nice and nutritious, but I settled with the traditional rice, meat, and vegetables. Everything was delicious, but there was a surprise waiting for me after I had finished my meal.

Infinite options to choose from

A hotel employee approached me and inquired if I had the all-inclusive package. I didn’t know what to say because I wasn’t your typical visitor. I tried to explain the issue, but the worker insisted on a bill for the food I had just eaten. So I remained cool and signed the bill he had just handed me. The total for the food was roughly 17 Euros. I was happy to pay because I didn’t know if dinner was included in my package. Therefore, it was kind of my fault.

An unpleasant suprise

After eating my dinner, I went up to reception and told them what had happened. I inquired if the food was part of my collaboration; they just answered, “you’re fine, we’ve got it all covered.” To say the least, I was relieved. It was then that I realized how thankful I needed to be for everything that had happened on this trip. Later I went back to my room, almost got lost, but was saved by this map…

You know the resort is big when they have a map

Next day in Luxor

Being a little spontaneous

I believe I forgot to mention something, so let’s take a step back. My initial goal was to spend one night in Luxor, see the surrounding area, and then leave. Therefore, Mr. Namazi informed the manager of the Luxor Resort that I intended to remain for just one night. However, there was a change in plans. There was a big event taking place over the next two days. The management asked me to film it and support the crew. That meant I’d have to stay on the island for another three nights. As an opportunist, I immediately accepted. So now I had three more days and the following one was free to tour Luxor, which I did.

Touring Luxor with a private guide

The night before, I was browsing for tours that would take me around Luxor, specifically the Ancient Egyptian sites. The tour I booked was a shared guide tour that picked everyone up from their hotels and then began. This was especially useful for me because I was still on the island, distant from the city center. A minibus arrived to pick me up in the morning. First I met with the tour leader in the lobby to discuss the tour. To my surprise, no one else had reserved the tour for that day. That meant that I had a private guide for the entire journey. To say the least, I was happy to start the tour.

Valley of the Kings and Queens

Nature + Architecture = Beauty

The tombs of the old pharaohs, or what remained of them, were our first stop. I was told that practically all of the tombs had been opened and stolen. You could however still get a sense of what was inside. We initially walked into an area with massive stone mountains (called the valley of kings). It was incredibly hot, so we were constantly sipping water. Then, after twenty minutes of the blazing sun beating down on us, we arrived. There were numerous people eager to learn more about these monuments. My guide advised that I to visit the more prominent tombs because it might be exhausting. I didn’t understand what she was trying to say until I entered one of them. The graves are buried deep down, some stretching for kilometers, so walking down was tiring. There were also various interesting hieroglyphics on the way down.

Entrance into the tombs

There was another huge sight next to this stunning valley. When you think that this was done centuries ago, the architecture was very amazing. There was even a research team growing the site in quest of more fascinating stories. I shot some photos as the guide and driver waited for me in the shade. When it became too hot, we went to enjoy a traditional Egyptian lunch. We ate fresh Nile River fish and a traditional Egyptian soup.

A traditional Egyptian lunch

Last stop: Karnak Temple

The Karnak temple was our final visit on the trip. I won’t lie, I don’t recall any historical details about this temple, but it appeared quite spectacular. There were gigantic pillars and ruins. The pillars were supporting some sort of roof that had been demolished at some point. As I discovered, there was some original coloring intact, but much of it was washed away during severe rain. It’s amazing how ancient structures like these can remain in the same location after thousands of years. We eventually returned back to the island. That basically concludes the first chapter of the Luxor story. Up next is how I sneaked into one of the biggest events in Luxor. So stay tuned and thanks for reading 🙂

Me sitting on thousand years of history

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