WEDNESDAY – LUXOR TO ASWAN We left the hotel at 6:30 a.m. and walked up to the bus station where we had a 30-minute wait until the Aswan bus – a crowded, windowless wreck – lurched into the square and we could fight our way on board. The trip to Aswan took about 4 hours, and cost us £E4-50 each.It was an interesting ride with the blue water of the Nile out on our right and the stark, barren desert off to our left beyond the narrow fringe of irrigated and fertile land bordering the river. Soon after we left Luxor, the bus conductor had a blazing row with one of the passengers which looked amusingly like coming to blows until three other passengers stepped in and settled them down.
It was very hot when we got to Aswan and we had a 15 minute walk to find the Mena Hotel where we had arranged to meet two German travellers that we had met on the train to Luxor. The hotel was overpriced for what it was – a small, stuffy room with a tiny window and a small fan – but we couldn’t be bothered looking for somewhere else. After a refreshing shower we set off up the Corniche to the old Cataract Hotel where we knew we could get a cold beer. We also knew that it would be expensive but we didn’t quite expect to pay E£17 pounds for two beers! But still, it was quite salubrious to sit there in the opulent surroundings of the Veranda Bar sipping cold beer and watching the monied tourists parade past.
We had a snack of boiled eggs and bread in the Botanical Gardens overlooking the river then walked back down to our hotel through the souk which is a tourist trap of the first order. We met our German friends, Peter and Stephanie, at 7:30 and went for a meal at a cheap restaurant down by the Nile. The night air was cool and it was very relaxing to sit there and sip coldish beers and talk. Back at the hotel we passed a sweaty, uncomfortable night.