Since all the tourists from Aswan arrive at the same time, it’s a zoo. There are long lines to get into the tombs, and security guards shouting at you if you dawdle. It’s very difficult to get any good photos since the site is crawling with people. It’s still beautiful, however, and we did enjoy it. The other way to get there is to take a cruise boat and make a couple of days of it. I’m sure these lucky people have the site to themselves and can enjoy it at a much less hurried pace.There wasn’t really enough time to see the sites, but we had to rush back before our mini-van left. On the way back, we first stopped at the High Dam, which is definitely not worth visiting. It’s a not-very-impressive dam in a not-very-impressive location. However, it was still a lot more impressive than the next site, the Unfinished Obelisk, which as far as we could tell, was just a hunk of big rock lying on the ground with streams of tourists paying $6 US apiece to see it! Finally, we headed to Philae Temple, the only side-trip that was worthwhile. Our mini-bus group joined together to get a good price on the ferry to the island ($1 apiece). The temple is very well preserved, and there are lots of good photo opportunities. (including an interesting sign outside the cafe!)
The mini-bus dropped us off at the hotel where Hamis Travel had arranged to leave our stuff for the day (finally, something that worked well!). We spent some more time exploring Aswan, and then got the evening train back up north to Luxor.We arrived in Luxor exhausted. Hamis Travel had set us up at the Arabesque Hotel, and it was pretty bad. Purportedly 3 stars, those were the worst stars we’ve ever seen. If we had not been as tired as we were, we would have switched. We didn’t pay for it (Hamis Travel gave us the voucher for free, but they originally tried to charge us US $30) and it was still too expensive. It was nasty. The linens had holes and dirt marks; the shower was explicitly constructed to inflict maximum head injuries on anyone above 5 feet tall, the street noise was very bad, etc. Fortunately it was only one night and we travel with our own towels.