We independent folks take public buses. We stay in hostels (which we book ourselves). We do research and plan our own itineraries. Package tourists pay a lot of money for someone else to do all the dirty work for them. They show up with a fanny pack and a smile and see the world from the bubble of an air conditioned coach. Right or wrong, an honest independent traveler will admit a certain sense of superiority over his package tourist counterpart.
While I may believe that ours is the only true way to experience another country, it does have a tendency to get exhausting. There are times when scrutinizing another map in a foreign language or trying to interpret one more indecipherable metro schedule threatens to put me over the edge. Moments when I wish a man with an ID around his neck and a clipboard would just hand me a cold bottle of water and usher me in the right direction.
After being warned that Aswan and Luxor are so hot that the soles of our shoes would melt on the pavement, we predicted our trip there would be one of those times. We were determined not to open a guidebook or hail a taxi or haggle for an entry fee. Nile Cruise - Sign me up!!
A couple we met in Dahab recommended a lovely vessel by the name of Nile Crocodile. The agent met us at the train station, took us back to his sweltering powerless office and proceeded to explain the itinerary. I zoned out and wondered how much longer till we could be sitting by the pool. After negotiating the price (per person per day), we were on board and ready to set sail.
Our first tourist site of Day One (of Four) was the High Dam. What is of interest at the High Dam, you may ask? Absolutely nothing. We paid 20 pounds a piece to pull over on the side of the road and look at the river down below. We even got to cross the street and see more water on the other side, free of charge! I got back in the car and inquired of there was more to see. Nope. Thanks for visiting.
Next up was the Temple of Philae, which was actually really cool. What the agent doesn't tell us however is that it's on an island, and we'd need to argue with twenty ferry operators for thirty minutes before one of them would agree on a price that was not absolutely ludicrous for the ten minute journey.
And finally, the 'unfinished obelisk'. We couldn't figure out what the hell this was, except that it was closed and we could only take a photo through the gate. Sweet.
Luckily the boat is quite nice, as promised. Except that it doesn't actually set sail until tomorrow. In other words, we could have book a Three Day trip (for 25% less) and missed, oh, nothing.
Moral of the story folks: Take the public bus. Book your own hostel. Do a little research.
|Look! It's a dam!|
|Indeed. This obelisk does look quite unfinished.|