Day 1; January 8, 2008
Arriving in Luxor
As usual, I awoke before my alarm went off, which had been set for 3:00 a.m. I washed my hair, got dressed, and made the last preparations. My suitcase had already been brought to the airport the evening before, so what was packed, was packed….. no more re-packing.
I then walked to the train station, bought my ticket, and waited in the cold until it arrived punctually at 4:41. At the 5th station I got off to catch the airport bus which left there at 5:01. The bus was amazingly full, but mostly with airport workers. The ride itself was only 10 minutes.
I arrived at the gate on time! Because of lots of construction going on, I had to walk a very long way to get to it! Boarding was supposed to start at 6:00, with departure at 6:45, but for some reason it was a bit delayed. But soon we boarded airport buses which took us to the Air Berlin A 320 for the short flight to Nürnberg. In spite of the short flight time, we were served drinks and a snack. The flight was full of vacationers planning to go on in various directions from Nürnberg to Fuerte Ventura, Mallorca, etc., etc.
I had never been in Nürnburgs new terminal. It was fairly large and very modern…. and crowded! It seemed to be a hub for Air Berlin flights, which also seemed to be scheduled to depart at around the same time. I had a bit of time to people watch and I noticed that, with the exception of a few students, everyone was my age and older! Like with the flight from Frankfurt, it seemed to be an old folk’s home on tour!
We soon boarded the LTU A 321 for our flight to Luxor. The flight was fully booked! And again, it was an old folks’ home on wings! The flight time was about 4 hours.
As with the flight from Frankfurt, I had a window seat and soon I was already taking pictures! Of course, some may not come out, but I took one of the Munich airport,
after that the Alp mountains, which were covered with snow and just gorgeous.
The route went along Slovenia, then to the Mediterranean, which was partly covered with clouds. Soon I saw below me a desert coast…. we had arrived at North Africa. I attempted again to take some pictures. Then the captain pointed us to a long, dark strip to the left of us (the side I was sitting on), informing us that that was the Nile River valley.
As we approached Luxor, we flew direct over the Nile, which you could see meandering in the middle, or on the side, of that green valley area. Soon we were preparing for our landing at Luxor, again right on schedule.
It appeared as if the airport has a new runway, since the one left of us was blocked off and looked unused. A part of it was used as a taxiway toward a large and also seemingly new terminal. There were only two airplanes parked at the apron and it looked like the airfield doesn’t see very much in the way of traffic.
We headed for the passport control where those without a visa received their sticker and we turned in our coupons from the travel agent. Everyone pushed and shoved to the counter, even though it was clear no one would be left out. One idiot stood on my foot and didn’t even notice my complaint. The passengers were from at least two different travel groups, the largest one being Phoenix Travels, my group.
Then we picked up our bags from the baggage claim and went outside where another representative of Phoenix travel told us which bus to board and the name of the ship we were assigned. My ship had the name “Marquis II”.
Since everyone had booked different categories of trips, we were soon going our different ways. My bus had about 10 people. A young German gal, Stephanie, greeted us on board and pointed out a few sights to us on our short drive to the Nile and our ship. One of the sights was the temple of Karnak which would be our first sightseeing tour on Wednesday. While waiting for the bus to get on the way, I turned on my handy and got connection, so I could give Hermann and Regina a call to tell them I had arrived safe and sound.
We arrived at the pier where our ship was tied. The water level of the Nile was pretty low so that the gangway was tricky. We had to walk over that to one ship, walk through three ships until reaching our own. Luckily, we didn’t have to carry our baggage, that was done by the many Egyptian workers. We had been told not to give the workers any tips since that was taken care of by Phoenix.
My first impression of the ship was ok. We went first up to the salon on the 3rd floor. Here we were met by a young Egyptian, Mohammed, who would be our main tour representative. He spoke good German and explained to us the procedures and schedule. We were only one of a number of groups on the ship. According to Mohammed, the ship was fully booked, though we didn’t see that many people around. We then when back downstairs to receive out cabin number and collect our luggage.
My cabin is on level one, right above the water line. It’s a small, compact room containing 2 single beds and its own rest room complete with shower. There was even a hair dryer.
The room appeared clean and I had no reason for complaints. It had a weird smell, but I assume that has to do with the type of cleaning materials used. The bedding was also clean. There was a telephone plus a television, complete with German television (ZDF).
I unpacked my stuff, hanging some things in the closet, then freshened up before going on a tour of the ship. It was now about 1600 local time. We were scheduled to meet Mohammed again at 1800 for the next instructions.
On board the ship we not only had the salon, which was also the entertainment room, but a bar room and a relative elegant restaurant where all the meals were served, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in buffet style. All drinks between 1000 and 2400 are included in the “all-inclusive”. Behind the salon is an outside deck where coffee and cake is served. At the rear of the ship is a small swimming pool. It, too, looked very clean.
A young couple from my group was standing at the reeling, looking over the Nile. Soon we started talking and getting to know each other and, together with a lady I sat next to during the talks, we now have our little group for during the meals. As is common on such vacation trips, we were soon on first name terms. Anna and Wolfgang are from Bavaria, and Rosi is from Berlin. Rosi received the trip as a gift from her daughter for her 60th birthday. She had lived in Cairo some 3 years ago and intended to use the trip just to relax. Later …….. from Rudolfstadt joined our table.
All meals were served buffet style with enough choice of salads, main dishes, and desserts for everyone, even me, to find something. In the evening our little group sat together in the salon and enjoyed some of the wine served…. and it wasn’t bad, either. But soon we each went to our respective cabins, where I started writing this report.