Day 5: Luxor From a Balloon

Yesterday, when we had requested an appointment with the sales rep from the hot air balloon company, we expected an Egyptian to come and talk to us about the options. Instead, we recieved their chief haggler, who almost haggled us to death. We wanted to almost accept his price, because we wanted the haggling to stop.

Every thing he said seemed to almost be a lie. In fact, this whole trip, the only honest people have really been our waiters. The front desk, the cab drivers, the boat captains, the salesman, the vendors all seem to be infatuated with lying.

Note to all: Yes, I am annoyed and deeply disturbed the manners and etiquette of the people here.

In the end, we gave in to a price. We paid $170 for the two of us, and it seemed as if it was worth it.

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Getting across the Nile River

It was. It was simply amazing. We were taken to the launch field across the Nile on a small boat. We weren’t going to be riding alone. We were going to be accompanied by some Germans, Brits, and Spanish tourists. The roar of gas to inflate the balloon itself reminded me of when I was a child. I had always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon, but never had the opportunity. Seeing the balloons lift off across the bayou and over the house always gave me a tingle.

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When the balloon finally took off, it was an exhilirating experience. We would go up a little then down a little all throughout the trip. The ride gave us an eagle’s view to every ruin in Luxor, the entire city, and all the neighboring farms. At times, we were at the same level as houses, and so close we could touch their trees. The cows were moo’ing at us, the captain of the balloon would have friendly conversation with the locals from the air… at the top of their lungs, and all us passengers didn’t have much to say because we were too busy looking at the horizon.

After we were finally able to land (watch the video), we grabbed a bite to eat and headed off to see more ruins on hotel side of the Nile. Later on, we went to several travel agencies to find a bus to Horghada so we can grab an express boat to Sharm el-Sheikh. There are only a few ways to get Sharm el-Sheikh from Luxor. You can fly, you can take a bus to Horghada and then catch a boat to the city, or you can go by camel. On top of all that, the bus to Horghada goes either in the early morning or late in the evening. It’s about a 6 hour ride and it has to be done in a convoy. That’s right… a convoy. Apparently, southern Egypt is flooded with bandits, rebels, and thieves (I thought Cairo was bad!) and all the buses ride out, make their breaks, and arrive together along with a military escorts in jeeps.

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Statue in the Luxor side of the ruins

We ended up arriving at Horghada around 10ish and found a hotel which was suitable. Actually, it wasn’t the best but we just needed to stay for a few hours until we caught an express boat to Sharm el-Sheikh. If you want to brush up on your Swedish or your Russian, then this is the city! In fact, Egyptian men here are known to marry Russian and Swedish women, every road sign here is in all three languages, they have Russian and Swedish restaurants here, and there a ton of them everywhere. Apparently, Egypt has very close ties with both nations and companies from all three nations do a lot of trade via the Red Sea.

We found a restaurant which sells juicy kabobs after we were almost tricked into buying chicken liver on the street (I won’t go into detail). Bought our tickets to the express boat, headed back to the hotel, and caught some much needed sleep.

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Oh my God. So juicy. So tender. So delicious. Utensils really dirty though. Ate with my hands.

 

Tomorrow: Off to Sharm el-Sheikh!

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