Aswan Moon Restaurant
Aswan Shoe Shine
Hotel Ramses, Manager
Abela Sleeper Train
Aswan is a small town about 3 hrs by train from Luxor. What was meant to be a 3 hr train ride, stretched into 7hrs as the train was late. The feedback from local travellers, we got was that the train is always late, so it is better to go in a taxi.
Retrospectively, it is not a bad idea to skip this town and if you have time go to the Red Sea resorts. By the time we reached Aswan, we had had too much of tombs and temples.
The town has a quaint market, called Al Souk, souk being Egyptian for Market. It runs parallal to the Corniche with numerous roads joining them. One of the best ways to travel quickly along the Corniche is to hop onto one of the mini-vans which run along the road almost every minute. At 50 piasters per person, nothing can be cheaper. A taxi along the same route would cost 5LE.
One of the best places we found to eat in Aswan, was Aswan Moon restaurant. It is a floating restaurant with a nice Nile view. Rates are quite cheap. It is located along the Corniche. Another of our favourites in Aswan was the fruit juice bar near the Station. At 1LE per glass of Sugarcane juice and 3 LE for mixed fruit salad, it was our frequent haunt.
One of the things people are warned frequently about in Aswan are the pickpokets there. A person pretending to be a papayrus salesman almost opened my waist pouch by cleverly pushing the papayruses against my chest, thereby blocking my view and opening my waist pouch with his other hand! Luckily I pushed him away just in time.Be careful of people coming too close in Aswan.
The hotel we stayed in Aswan was Hotel Ramses. This is one of the most terrible hotels we have seen in our lives! The first few floors have wall to wall carpetting, of a dirty and stinky variety. Mercifully, the top few floors dont have the carpet. But the corridors are narrow and smelly and your room is most uncomfortable. Electric points dont work, the TV looks as if it will crumble any minute and beds are very uncomfortable.
The worst part of Hotel Ramses, Aswan is its management. The manager is a very aggressive person, almost threatening you to take the hotels over priced tours. 15 minutes after our check in, we got a call from the reception, that your "tour operator" (ie. the hotel manager, who had probably appointed himself as our tour operator), has requested you to please deposit $220/- for tomorrows tours??!! Every day it was the same story of an overpriced tour being stuffed down our throats and we had to fight back. It is best to stay as far away from Hotel Ramses, Aswan, as one possibly can.
As Luxor, the town is built parallal to Nile. It has a great Corniche to walk along. We took a fellucca for 2 hours and really enjoyed it.
The biggest island on the Nile is Elephantine Island, which you cannot miss. In it are two Nubian Villages, to reach which we took a Government ferry and walked around the Island.
We had booked Egypt Air tickets to Abu Simbel, a place about 45minutes by air or 4hrs by road. It has those huge statues you can see in the photographs, nothing else and honestly speaking, not worth the money or effort.
From Aswan, we took the Night train called Abela Sleeper Train. It is a fairly comfortable train with two bed compartments at $120/-, the price including a good dinner and breakfast. The bad points of the train is that the compartments are narrow and if you have more than 2 pieces of luggage, there is no place for them. Also, the toilets were very bad and smelly. The only positive thing is that you save on a hotel night. My recommendation would now be to fly!