Stamps (Philately)/Expert Profile – Michele Chapman.
I specialize only in Cyprus stamps (Republic) and North Cyprus (Turkish Cypriot) stamps and First Day Covers. Please note: I can only answer questions on stamps from the country of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean. All Cyprus stamps will have: ΚΥΠΡΟΣ, KIBRIS or CYPRUS printed on them!
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Following on from our visit to Luxor, Egypt in September 2010 here is a list of the excursions we did and our recommendations.
Sindbad Hot Air Balloons – booked through a Ahmed Balal, a local agent.
Cost: LE325pp includes pickup and return to hotel, small motor boat across to West Bank with coffee, tea and cake, minibus transfer to launch site and back to the river crossing, safety drill, certificate and a t shirt.
We had to wear lifejackets to cross on the Nile, we were constantly advised to “mind your head, watch your step” through the process of getting on and off all forms of transport! We had a safety drill before getting in the basket and again inside the basket where we each had to practice the landing position in case of a hard or tilted landing. Neither was needed – we came down soft and gentle and then manoevered whilst we were about a foot off the ground to the final position.
This was a truly excellent excursion and highly recommended. Our pickup was at 06:10 as we were the closest to the river crossing point and because sunrise is a little later towards the end of September. In the main summer months it can be as early as 04:30. Take a hat! The heat from the burner is tremendous. Recommended? A MUST DO trip! Even my hubby who doesn’t really “do” heights loved it…
Petra Travel - Ahmed Balal.
I found this man totally by accident but it turned out this was a blessing in disguise.
As our flight arrived into Luxor after 01:00hrs we didn’t fancy the idea of haggling over 2 taxis at that time, particularly as we were only on a domestic flight on a non-international arrivals day.
We had a number of emails between us over the ensuing months and he agreed to collect us and take us to our hotel in his new airconditioned minibus at a cost of LE10pp (Total LE60). He was waiting inside the arrivals hall and his driver, Jimmy was in the bus waiting. He told us not to pay for our travel there and then but to come and see him the next day as we wanted to look at hiring him for some other trips.
The next day we arranged 2 half day itineraries with him:
1) Hatshepsut temple, Howard Carter house, Medinet Habu and the Rameseum. He already had tickets, so we paid for the airport transfer and the tickets for Hatshepsut and Medinet Habu. Howard Carter house is free* just now and he recommended to wait to see if we still wanted to do the Rameseum after the other stuff. A wise warning – we were all nackered and decided against it!
He was always where he said he would be or contacted us when requested and at the appointed time. His driver Jimmy was always on time and very obliging when we needed to stop off at shops en-route. We were never pushed into anything, the decison was always down to us after Ahmed’s recommendations and his prices were excellent, particularly when you bear in mind there were just 6 of us in a private 12 seat mini-bus.
If you mention that Michele from Cyprus told you about him, I know he will be very pleased to hear it!
The itineraries we did are most certainly recommended but then you wouldn’t be thinking about going to Luxor just to sit by the pool, would you? The Howard Carter house is a MUST DO!
* Addendum: there is now an entrance fee to enter the Howard Carter house. It’s quite small so probably no massive coach parties will visit. The hologram experience is definitely worth seeing.
★ Cyprus Six go to Luxor – Sept 2010 Slideshow ★ via Cyprus Six go to Luxor – Sept 2010 Slideshow.
Below is a review I posted on my favourite holiday forum (HolidayTruths) last year (September 2010) after we returned from 7 nights in Luxor, Egypt.
This particular post covers a number of restaurants or places we ate at during our holiday.
“For those of you who are familiar with my posts you may now have gathered that we very rarely do organised tours wherever we go. We have much more fun and satisfaction in doing things “our way”
Once we had booked our flights and accommodation independently there was a lot of talk about what we would and wouldn’t do when we got there. We fancied the camel trek again – others didn’t, we wanted to do a balloon flight – others didn’t, some wanted to do Karnak Sound & Light Show – we didn’t (did it once and that was enough), one lady is claustrophobic so didn’t know how she would cope with tombs on the West Bank. All in all, we had quite a lot to consider.
Now we have returned, I’ve put together a list of places and eateries/cafes we visited in Luxor:
Metropolitan Cafe – situated on the lower corniche across from the Winter Palace hotel.
First visit – Beer prices reasonable (Stella local LE15) but when we visited we were told “no Stella, only Saqqara” which was an extra LE3. We wanted Stella so we got up to leave. However, he went and asked and they agreed we could have the alternative at the same price as the Stella. There is tax added though at the end on the bill, so beware.
2nd visit – a cup of tea in the afternoon for us. Price on the menu LE5. The bill came and we were charged LE7 plus tax. When asked why it was a different price we were told it’s because we had milk! We weren’t happy with this and told him so and also that we wouldn’t come back again. The answer? Next time you can have it for LE5. Recommended? We told him quite straight – there won’t be a NEXT time!!!
El Kabadgy – another part of the same group (Metropole/Edris group) a little further along the lower corniche.
We ate here one evening, food was okay a bit more expensive than where we ate on our first evening but nothing special. Again – no Stella! We were offered Saqqara at the same price. It was ok but we wouldn’t go back. Service was a bit unfriendly. We were originally shown to a table and had just ordered our drinks and were discussing the menu when another guy came and told us we had to move. No please or thank you. It almost resulted in us leaving the restaurant completely. It turns out there was a kids birthday party that night and they arrived about 30mins before we finished up. An explanation might have helped at the time! Recommended? Probably would visit again.
John’s Restaurant (used to be John & John’s – see South Luxor Map below) – inside the Gaddis Hotel (opposite the Pyramisa Isis hotel).
The restaurant has now moved from the pool area inside and to the right as you enter. Not so nice to look at as it was before and the others had okay or good meals but mine was abysmal. I ordered the Kofta and they looked like hot dog sausages that had been coated in some kind of breadcrumb batter and shallow fried. The others had a mixture of local tagine dishes, braised beef meal and a chicken meal. Recommended? No, based on my meal and comments from the others in our party.
Sofra Restaurant – not far from the Railway Station but not so easy to find if you are unfamiliar with the area in the dark. We took a taxi and paid LE10 for all 6 of us.
This is not so much a restaurant as an “experience”. The menu is Egyptian and no alcohol is available. Prices are good and the food we had was excellent. We chose the roof terrace because we were a large group and we hadn’t made a reservation so the colonial style rooms downstairs were already full. We were seated at a low round table made from what looked like a huge tray. We had fun juggling our plates around to accommodate all of us and a good time was had by all. We walked back into Luxor via Television Street. Recommended? Most definitely!
Ali Baba – behind Luxor temple and between Macdonald’s and Sindbad’s.
A scruffy little place that’s up some stairs on the side of the building. We only came in for beers after eating at Sofra but the menu was very reasonably priced and there were younger people eating there. Stella local – LE10. Great views across the newly built square and over the Luxor temple. Recommended? For drinks only based on appearance & cleanliness only.
Maximes - past the Pyramisa Isis on the same side and before the Sheraton hotel.
Situated on 2 floors, nicely laid out with burgundy and white tablecloths. Powerful a/c that we had to request it be turned down! It was quiet when we went in and as we were a large party we were on the top level. Reasonably priced food, no alcohol. I had a very nice pepper steak with french fries and a minute portion (teaspoon sized) of mixed veg. Suited me as I don’t like mixed veg but some of the others were disappointed with this part. Recommended? I would go back for the steak again.
Nile Valley hotel & restaurant – a 5min walk to the left after getting off the local Luxor ferry at the West Bank.
The restaurant/cafe is situated on the roof terrace of the hotel. A great choice of menu and on a par with the other restaurants we had visited on the East Bank but with a splendid view across the Nile to the Luxor temple and towards the Winter Palace down to the Iberotel (formerly the Novotel). The food was very good – I had grilled chicken on skewers (souvlaki style) but asked for a pepper sauce to go with it (an extra LE5), others had various dishes and we were all very happy. Afterwards we took the ferry back (LE1) and popped into Sindbads cafe/bar for beers on the way back to our hotel. Recommended? Definitely!
Sindbads – coming from the Luxor temple and Macdonalds, it’s probably the last little bar on the left side and almost in front of the (closed but soon to be refurbished) Luxor Wena hotel (link to photo).
We only ever went for drinks here because they were cheap at LE8 for Stella local. However, we saw several ladies going to visit the toilets and then coming out again – fast! They were bad so we popped along the road to Macdonalds to use the loo. The waiter thought we were leaving but we explained where and why we were going. He did apologise for the toilets and later we saw a maintenance man in there bashing up stuff and with his mop and bucket going over the floor.
We did go again on another evening but decided not to brave the toilets. People were eating here too – not somewhere I would want to eat after the toilet experience. Recommended? For drinks only and the toilets – but only if you have a strong stomach.
Puddleduck – turn up by the side of the entrance to the St Joseph hotel, past Arkwrights mini-market and at the top of the street turn right. The restaurant is on your right as you turn.
A non-smoking restaurant, very clean and friendly. Offers traditional Sunday style lunches of roast beef & yorkshire pudding, Australian lamb, an Indian option, some local dishes too. English & Egyptian wife and husband team.
Prices for main meals were similar to those we had used all week (LE55 – LE70), desserts approx LE25. They did sell alcohol but it worked out quite expensive at LE12 per glass. Good food and we would go back again but after a discussion of which was the best meal we had eaten, it came out in 2nd place. It gets very busy so if you are a party of 2 or more, it may be advised to book. We went earlier at 19:30 and they could accommodate us then or an hour later then that was it. Recommended? For the food, yes and especially the lemon cheesecake. Not much atmosphere though.
Top Voted restaurant seemed to be a toss up between the Sofra and the Nile Valley restaurants between all 6 of us. We each said we enjoyed it and would go back to these.”
More information coming soon on local excursions and places we visited in and around Luxor. Watch this space (category).
“If it was in the hands of the people, I think north and south would naturally bond. But it doesn’t depend on us, that’s the problem.”
Six young Cypriots who had never met each other before, three who live north of the Green Line three who live south of it, are invited to share a house for five days. But this is no Big Brother type scenario and there’s certainly no one that’s going to be “voted out”. Instead, this is about friendship, exploring identities, and envisioning the future. Will they be liberated from the traumas of the past that have been passed on to them? Will they discover truths they had never encountered before? Is peace a long way ahead?
Read more: Sharing an island – Cyprus Mail.