Guess what? The rail workers are on strike. I have to take a bus. 12 hours they said, same as the train. Better? It should be. I’m used to long 10 hour bus trips in Turkey. The lights will be off and my bags will be safe. I can do it. I stocked up on Oreo cookies and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – things I can’t get in Turkey – and settled into my seat.
At 6am, 10 hours into the trip, the question was finally asked.
“How much longer?”
“Two or three hours.”
Two or three hours later, the same question was asked. The answer?
“Two or three hours.”
Guess what? It turns out that the ride wasn’t 12 hours long after all. It was 18. It easily became the most horrendous trip I have ever taken in my life (so far). Uncomfortable is an understatement. I’m not a small guy. I don’t fit in one bus seat comfortably. Even trying to sleep in two whole seats is just as agonizing.
The neverending bus ride took us from Cairo to the Red Sea coast, back inland to Luxor, and along the Nile down to Aswan. When we finally arrived in Aswan, the groups split up between those taking a Nile riverboat cruise and a traditional Egyptian felucca. There were only seven of us who opted for the riverboat.
We were taken to our rooms which were across the hall from each other. We didn’t have much time to relax because in just an hour was a trip to the nearby Philae Temple, so I unpacked and made myself at home. After that, I decided to explore the boat to get a feel for my new home over the next few days.
I wasn’t happy with what I found.
My shower had no shower head. The carpet in the cabin was on the sticky side. The boat was a bit old and dirty. The pool on the top deck was a breeding ground for bacteria. The staff was a bit on the creepy side.
I went to the front desk to tell the man about the shower head and said “I thought this was a 5 star boat”.
With a grin from ear to ear, the man replied “5 Egyptian stars!”
That explained it.
When everyone complained to Sem Sem about the miscommunication (false advertising?), he apologized and said that the tour company has to go with whatever cruise is preparing to leave at the moment. If the boats don’t fill, they don’t sail. This was the nicest one filling up on that day. On a positive note, the food wasn’t too bad.
Putting all the problems with the boat aside, I had some of my best times of the tour on the top deck, just sitting and chatting with my newfound friends and watching the scenery as we sailed along the Nile.
Coming back to my room every day to see the towel art was also a nice touch.