December 27, 2018
A Walk to Lunch
Back in the city of Luxor (about 850,000 population), our bus driver dropped us off in the vicinity of the place where we would have lunch. The restaurant was a few blocks away down dusty streets, and we had to walk. I was glad for this because as it turned out, there were many buildings with interesting doors and I kept stopping to take pictures! Most of these doors I have already posted for Norm’s Thursday Doors, but here are a few of them again, plus some other sights along the way.
Mineret of a nearby mosque
Dale stops and looks back to see where I am – taking pictures, what else?!
Here’s one Dale took – he found this sign amusing.
The restaurant where we had lunch
After lunch, we walked back to the bus, which took us to a boat dock. We took a ferry called “King of Love” across the Nile!
The ferries were all colorfully painted and named.
One of the cruise ships that take tourists up and down the Nile – we were to see many of these in the next few days.
Our Hotel: Sofitel Winter Palace
We had “down time” for the rest of the afternoon – well deserved, after seeing so many monuments in the morning! I will use this space to post pictures of our hotel, the Sofitel Winter Palace.
The hotel was decorated for Christmas, including this unique Christmas tree.
Dale thought the decorations of an ancient priest carrying a boat looked like a menorah!
Returning to our room, I discovered that the attendant had left flowers in a vase and on the sink in the bathroom.
The Winter Palace Hotel was built in 1886, in the luxury style of many old hotels in the Victorian age.
Underneath the hotel, where the arches are below the railing, there were some shops, including one that sold antiques, including jewelry. Merchants are not allowed to sell anything that is more than 100 years old, to discourage the marketing of possibly valuable artifacts.
Behind the hotel are the century old Royal Gardens.
There are large, lavishly decorated salons like this one.
They had hats for guests to try on, like Dale in this fez!
Dinner with a Local Family
For dinner, we were split into two groups. Each group would go to a different local household for dinner. Dale and I went with four other people. The home-hosted dinner is one of the highlights of OAT tours.
Our family, of modest means, was very welcoming. The father’s name is Mohammed, the mother is Doah (pron. Doh – AH) and they have four children – two boys (Faheed, age 15 and Kareem, age 10) and two girls (Rana, age 14 and Zena, age 2).
Little Zena was so cute! She loves to dance to music, which she was too happy to do, because she sought our approval – she was not at all shy!
Rana enjoys drawing and wants to be an artist. Her drawings were passed around among us, as well as photos of the family, to admire. Rana didn’t get home until just before we left – just in time for a family photo!
A nephew was there when we arrived, but he had to leave; then another relative, Iman, came, who spoke a little more English. Both parents did speak some English.
Mohammed is a farmer. He has an old car, which at 38 years old is the same age as his wife! He drives 20 km to the farm, where he grows vegetables.
Doah is a housewife. The meal she prepared was delicious, even the eggplant! I have never liked eggplant, so when she told us what each dish was, I didn’t put any of the eggplant in tomato sauce on my plate. Doah seemed to think I didn’t know what it was, so she repeated: “Eggplant!” Of course, then I had to take some to be polite. But when I took a bite of it – I liked it! The sauce it was cooked in definitely helped, but I vowed to try eggplant again to see if I still liked it. (I did try it, and I did like it!)
The family lives in a modest apartment with two bedrooms – the three older kids share one bedroom and Zena sleeps with her parents. (Since there is no crib or extra bed in the parents’ room, I assume she sleeps in the same bed with them.) The kitchen is quite small and very basic. There is no room in the kitchen for the refrigerator, so it is kept in the parents’ bedroom!
Doah in some of the photos dressed more western style, but now she wears colorful long dresses and a hijab. Girls start wearing hijabs at age 12. Doah showed us Rana’s school uniform – a black jumper, mid-calf length, with a white shirt underneath and a white hijab. The boys’ uniform is less austere. Kareem wears a blue shirt and blue jeans! That doesn’t sound fair to our Western sensibilities, but on the other hand, most Egyptian men at adulthood begin wearing the long, traditional robe for men, the dalabeya. Most of the men we saw wore plain ones, usually white, black or gray. Although Doah was wearing a colorful dress and matching yellow hijab, most women we saw on the street were covered head to toe in black, although their faces are generally covered. (Some do veil their face but the majority, at least that I saw, did not.) I noticed that older women, especially, dress in black.
We spent about two hours at the family’s home, during which we asked questions about their lives, told them about ours, and looked at their photos.
When it was time to go, the van driver who was to take us back came to the door and we went downstairs. This bird statue was on the first floor of the apartment building.