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Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Arrival at the Winter Palace Pavilion

Time for breakfast again and wishing that Sofitel would send their chefs to the Hilton to see what breakfast should look like!!  It was soon time for a last look around before asking for taxis to be sent to pick us up.

Motor boat

Fishing in the morning mist

Two taxis arrived at the doors to pick us up and we said our goodbyes to the staff.  Our taxis cost 30LE each, which was the same fare as the rickety old one we had been in the day before, but at least this time our taxis were new with air conditioning and again with hassle free drivers.  The traffic was horrendous again going through Luxor and on being dropped off at the front of the Winter Palace, we were once again pounced upon by caleche drivers and a paper seller.  We shrugged them all off with a 'La shukran' (no thank you) and made our way through the Old Winter Palace to the Pavilion rooms in the garden.  The porters took care of the luggage for us.

Once into our rooms it was great to get unpacked properly before making our way down the pool to establish or own 'Little Scotland' area!!  We soon discovered though that although the pool at the Hilton was heated, the pools here were not due to the shortage of gas supplies.  Other hotels are also apparently having the same problem.  Needless to say, the water was therefore pretty cold, so there was to be no swimming for me this time around!!  We had just about got settled down at the pool when two girls from a beauty salon nearby came around asking if my friend and I would like a pedicure for 150LE each, so we took her up on that and made our way to the shop.  I think the young girl who carried out the pedicure was just training, so we were her guinea pigs!! The pedicure wasn't too bad, but she was a bit rough with her foot files, so much so that we both almost hit the roof a couple of times, causing much hilarity!!  Then, she produced a long length of thread which I was intrigued about, then quickly realised that she was going to thread the small hairs on my big toes - OUCH!!  I had never had that done before!!  Anyway, she then proceeded to paint my nails and she drew floral patterns on both big toenails.  I must say that it all looked pretty good when she finished, but I did wonder how long it would all last!!  (I'll put you out of your misery - it did last the whole two weeks of my holiday, so I was pleasantly surprised).  If you have an aversion to feet, look away now!!

Painted toes
Prior to going out for dinner tonight, we went up to the Royal Bar in the Old Winter Palace for a drink, then we made our way to the back door to walk down Medina Street towards the restaurants of the 'Little Britain' area.  This is where the chaos starts, and you realise that you're leaving the little oasis that is the Winter Palace and entering the heart of Luxor!!  I love it!!  However, the biggest threat to life and limb at the moment on the streets of Luxor are the motor bikes that the young lads whiz about on at breakneck speed.  You really need to have your wits about you and you need to take care.  There are also many power cuts in the town - deliberately cut by the power company to conserve power.  You'll see different areas in darkness each night.  Each cut lasts around 30 to 45 minutes, but walking around dark streets with traffic and animals all around could be a bit daunting - luckily we had torches with us and I'd advise any visitors to pack one in their case to use while in Luxor.

We walked along to Puddleduck but it was full when we arrived, so we went along to Dean's Bistro and had our meal there.  Deans is a very small restaurant, but there's a nice menu and it's very reasonably priced.  We had four soups, a fish dish, three chicken dishes and three desserts plus drinks for 448LE.

On our walk back to the hotel we popped into Omars supermarket to stock up on soft drinks and water, and we also stopped off at the local bakers for some rolls which we intended to have for our lunch the next day.

We noticed a new cafe right next to the back door of the hotel - Caffe Moka.  This cafe had been there in 2011 on our last visit, but it's now under new management and has been revamped and looked pretty good.  We stopped off for coffee and I hooked up with the free wi-fi on offer.  You do get wi-fi at the pool and in public areas of the hotel, but it sometimes can be a bit hit and miss, so it was great to find this wee cafe so close where the wi-fi signal was good.

On getting back to our rooms we noticed two significant changes from our last visit - no turndown service and no fresh towels, so it seems that cuts are being made. 

Oh, and remember me saying that our dates hadn't been available for the Winter Palace Pavilion for the beginning of the holiday?  Well when someone we knew from hotel management asked us why we hadn't wanted to stay at the hotel for the whole of the holiday and when we told them about the conference, they told us that that had all fallen through and wasn't now taking place until later in April!!

Went to bed wondering what breakfast would be like in the morning!!

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