What Do Luxor and a Cairo Street Mugging Have in Common?
Going to Luxor/Aswan as a tourist is akin to a Cairo street mugging after withdrawing money from an ATM: you walk away with a lot less money and fairly positive that you don't want to experience anything like it again.
Hmm...I should clarify. I wouldn't want people thinking that Luxor/Aswan are not good places to go to.
Here's the thing: I don't like being a tourist or doing anything commonly associated with tourists. Things like being herded around in buses, having to listen to tour guides, paying out the ass for entrance fees. Not exactly my cup of tea.
Unfortunately, this is what Luxor and Aswan are. You get in a bus, get driven to a site, pay an egregious fee (for someone making local wages), get "guided" around the site, get back on the bus, and then get taken to the next place. Oh, and did I mention the stop at the alabaster factory?
The monuments themselves, however, were simply amazing. To think that what the Egyptians built 3000-4000 years ago is still in rather amazing condition is remarkable, if not unbelievable. And then there is the fact that two tombs were literally chopped up and moved so as to avoid being destroyed by the impending floods that the Aswan/High Dams would cause after being built.
Even the towns are pretty cool. Luxor is built around a temple and one of its streets leads right up to another. Aswan is a bit more developed and you can sense the Russian influence right away (they helped the Egyptians build the High Dam). Ironically, however, not many Russians go there so nothing is written in Russian. Instead, the proof is in the planning. I wouldn't be surprised if Aswan had more gardens than Cairo.
Both cities hug the Nile as well, so there are some spectacular views and relaxing feluca rides to be had. Such a welcome change from the banks of the Cairean Nile.
Ultimately, the trip was great, however I would really like to go back there without having to subjugate myself to the evil tourist industry.