These are transition days from Jerusalem to Amman, on to Cairo and finally Luxor. They weren’t particularly eventful.
We again crossed the bridge after saying goodbye the the American Colony, which is the kind of hotel you remember forever. Expensive at $540 per night, yes, but very memorable.
It’s a summer Thursday so it’s extra busy ahead of shabbat and Palestinians on summer vacation. The car line to get into the Israeli border complex is 90 minutes. Once inside, we forego the VIP service going back to Jordan on the advice of our driver. He claims the Jordanians don’t care as much so there aren’t lengthy lines. He’s totally right. An hour later we are in Jordan heading to Amman.
Amman contains a third of Jordan’s 6M inhabitants. What I saw was clean and very Western, but not very charming. We checked into the Sheraton but were already late to a business lunch, so we dashed off in another minivan for restaurant Centro. It was a very American menu, which was fortunate because Emma and Lily had declared (the night before) that they were boycotting french fries for a week. At Centro, Lily had spaghetti bolognese and Emma a pizza (no basil!).
The room at the Sheraton was not great. It was a tiny, smoking room with a busted AC. There was just a king bed and tiny single cot. Lily ended up between us by midnight. We’ve had a difficult time with sleeping arrangements at some hotels as a family of four. Most have a 3-person max policy but they enforce it erratically. Doubles are hard to find. We often get away with 4 by lying about Lily’s age.
Friday, day 9 we go slowly to Egypt. It’s only 3 hours of flight time from Amman to Luxor but it chews up a full day with all the international hassle, an airport terminal change in Cairo and overly cautious travel agents that book really long connections. Trish and I thumb e-mail all day roaming from mobile provider to mobile provider. We have no mishaps besides Lily having trouble with ear pressure and arrive in Luxor around 8:30pm.
Our resort is called Sonesta St. George. I had tried for the historical Sofitel Winter Palace but they wouldn’t allow 4 in a room, no exceptions. I wanted to be downtown so the next best option, I was told by the agent, is one my guidebook calls ‘kitschy’ – a risky predicate for a hotel.
Don’t get me wrong, at $120 per night for a mini-suite on the 6th floor overlooking the Nile, it’s not a bad deal. The staff are genuinely nice. But the inside looks like the white-trash cousin of the Las Vegas ‘Luxor’ hotel. It’s got Pharaoh motifs stapled to a plywood wall in one section. They have a mini mall in the lobby with 24-hour souvenir shops hawking trinkets. Our room had a musty smell when it didn’t smell like burning cheese. We ate in the courtyard, and the kebab was ghastly.
Trisha found a creepy cobwebbed ‘ballroom’ below the pool area. There was a Druse folk dancing group on the outdoor stage with no one watching. (They were cool.) Later it turned into a ‘disco’ but no one danced. In fact, I realized there were almost no guests! I begin to think that the few people I did see were trapped there like an Egyptian Hotel California. Yikes.
Trisha was against moving, and told me to calm down. But she changed her mind when she found out internet access was doled out in 30 min time cards for $8 apiece. I had already found it difficult to find a good hotel in Luxor, so I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Since I’m posting this late, I’ll let you know that it turned out great for us. But it took some effort to make happen. I slept fitfully.
[Photos by Trisha Creekmore]