Protestant Guilt!

It's no use, I've got to admit my guilty secret!

The truth is that we sneaked in another 4 night Nile cruise on the lovely Royal Viking cruiseboat, the other week. It's ridiculous that I should feel anything other than joy at having a great time, at my time of life, with the woman I love, in the land where we've chosen to spend our time together. But, there you are; there is a pang of "should we really be doing this?" I can conjure up a good many reasons as to why we shouldn't be here at all, never mind cruising up and down the Nile like Lord and Lady Bountiful!

Well, now that I've got that off my chest, I can tell you a little about it, just to whet your appetite, you know?

It wasn't like our last cruise, in that we actually planned to stay for 4 nights this time, whereas the last time we originally planned to do only 2 nights, and then decided to extend our stay. We also spent a great deal more of our time on this trip with the other guests who were lucky enough to also be on such a splendid cruise.

It was quite a surprise to find that the owner was sailing with us. Mr Ramadan Haggagi is related to all the people who live immediately next to us here in our little alley in the back streets of Luxor. Of course, he had been made aware that we would be on the trip, and he graced us with his company on several occasions, eager to regale us with the tales of his many business triumphs. He's certainly a "lager-than-life" character!

On this adventure, we were on the third deck (fourth last time) and the cabin was of the same design and with the same levels of comfort. We asked for a second chair again, and again it was provided immediately.

What we did notice straight away, was that the cabins had been given a fresh coat of paint during the summer, everything looked brighter and more welcoming. Also, the sun-deck had new astro-turf stuff from front to back, and all the furniture had been re-uphoulstered, including the sun-beds. In fact, when we got to nose about, it became apparent that all the furniture on the boat had been overhauled! Mr Ramadan had obviously been spending as if money was going out of fashion! The result was that a cruiseboat which had been quite adequate in May (or whenever it was) was now just lovely, well done Viking Nile Cruises.

Our fellow guests (26 of them) were mainly British with a handful of Spaniards, quite a mix, with several young people. A couple of hipsters (I think that's the right term for trendy young British men with full beards) with their wives (?), one or two other couples, some single people, and a charming lady with her daughter who was studying archaeology at Durham University, not far from us at home. There was also a Kiwi bloke who was blowing his redundancy money by travelling around the world, good on him, and a retired Scotch lady who was travelling with one of her computer-wizard sons!

All in all, we had some good company, so much so that we missed our planned outing on the first day in Aswan, through being engrossed in different conversations almost all day! But we made up for it on our second day there.

The tours from the boat include an optional felucca (sail boat) ride to enjoy a "sunset tea" on the lower terrace of the Old Cataract Hotel. Since the hotel was closed for about three years for refurbishment, it is now even more fabulous than it was before! We had intended to take tea at the Old Cataract while we were in Aswan, but didn't feel inclined to go with the party. (Only because we couldn't afford it, mind, not because of the company!) We left before them, and sauntered along the Corniche, it took us 35 minutes at our usual easy pace.

On the way, we passed the Aswan Coptic Christian Cathedral, it's a pretty impressive building, don't you think?

The Old Cataract Hotel is the stuff which dreams are made of! Agatha Christie wrote her famous Hercule Poirot mystery, "Death on the Nile" while ensconced there, there's a suite named after another illustrious guest too; Britain's greatest Prime Minister, Winston Churchill!

We sat for some time, just soaking it all in, then we ordered tea and Freda's usual decaf. They didn't have any decaffeinated coffee, but the ever resourceful "Madame" always carries a sachet with her, just in case. We were delighted, when we got the bill, to find that they had only charged for my tea, providing Freda's hot water etc etc free of charge. Now that's class! We were even serenaded by a Nubian musician, to whom I dropped a couple of quid for taking his picture.

It's a beautiful hotel, but I couldn't help but notice that they've still insisted on copying the Our Luxor hallway's moorish arch; all over the place! I do wish people would think up their own design features, honestly!!!!

After the group had enjoyed their tea and cakes, they were able to have the (unofficial) guided tour of the hotel, of course, we tagged along! The corridors are subtly illuminated, nothing too garish, and they have some exquisite pieces of furniture, which I tried to photograph, Dear Reader, but the light just wasn't right, sorry!

The Winston Churchill Suite was delightful! (He wasn't at home, so we snapped a few pics in there.)

At something like £8000 per night, it wants to be! There were at least two bathrooms, possibly three. My memory isn't what it once was!

It was around dusk when we got back to the Royal Viking, and I was able to get a nice picture of the Tombs of the Nobles, in a different light to the last time, what do you think?

Oh, how I wish that they'd get some dramatic lighting like that at Luxor!!!!!!!!

After having a lovely four and a half days holiday, I think I'll have to stop buying melodeons and save some more cash to go again next year. 

In the meantime, "Goodbye Royal Viking, see you again, inshAllah!"

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