Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Messing about on the river

One of the images I always had of myself when I imagined visiting the towns along the Nile was sailing along in a felucca. So upon arriving in Aswan, we had barely dropped our bags before heading to the waterfront.

The choices seemed endless - when walking along the river at any time of the day and night, we were accosted by felucca captains at every step. We wandered around for a while, negotiating prices, before settling with our captain, who offered a good rate (after a lot of haggling) for a 3 hour trip. Looking around until we found someone we liked really worked out well; the captain was happy to let F steer the boat, and was vocal about the changes he had experienced in Aswan and across Egypt over recent years, leading to an interesting conversation.

The following day we headed across on the local ferry to Elephantine Island, the site of some interesting ruins and a Nubian village. A wonderfully old-fashioned museum completes this gem of an island, which is only offended (in my opinion) by the architecturally insensitive Movenpick hotel, its huge tower blocking the sweeping sand dunes behind.

After wandering around the island, with the sun blaring down, we stopped off at a Nubian tea house, and chatting to the owner for a while, he invited us back that evening for dinner. It was gorgeous - traditional food in a beautiful location, watching the sun set and talking to our new friend about Nubian culture whilst wolfing down a feast which would probably feed a small army for a month. Stuffed, we waddled back down to the ferry and across to our hostel.

Speaking of the hostel - we really struck gold with ours. Keylany was a fantastic place to stay, good value with helpful staff, with a big added bonus - a small rooftop swimming pool! Yes, it was small, and often busy with all the other residents hiding from the heat, but with a lovely view across to a beautiful mosque and the chance to have a dip in the late afternoon to cool off, by the end of our stay it had become the most amazing pool in the world in my eyes.

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