The Orton's on the Nile - 2005

Le Mercure!!

Le Mercure!!

So it was that we came to leave the cruise ship for the last time and head off in air conditioned coach to the other side of the road; hotel Le Mecure. The happy band was being split up to go our separate ways. Dave and his tart wife were off to Hurghada, Hemmingway and suffering wife were off to Cairo, Brumme was off someplace I cannot even remember and the cast of Men Behaving Badly were going straight out to the Hilton at Sharm El Sheik.

That left us with; Bob and family, Sean, Vannesa and Daniel in the same group for the duration. Yes sadly that Irish girl with the taunting body and sparkling eyes was also off along with her equally charming pal and the female Laurel and Hardy team. It was a sense of inevitable loss not equalled since my last posting as a young soldier of the Queen many years ago.

The hotel was definitely a strange mixture of high luxury and downright Hollywood tackiness. As you entered the foyer there were some of the cheapest looking fake Egyptian artefacts and an even sorrier looking fibre glass camel that would have been more at home in the last remake of Aladin. The rooms however, were splendid and all had their own balcony overlooking the temples and the river.

We had a night and a whole day here to explore the museums and maybe throw in another trip to the Valley of the Kings. Who was I kidding? No way I was getting up that early again for a while. We had breakfast and lunch tomorrow, but had to fend for ourselves tonight, so we planned a visit to the temple of the red plastic M, McDonalds.

The plot was a trip to McD’s then a look round the old souk, real Egypt, on the way back. We walked along chatting merrily avoiding the thousands of taxi drivers and horse drawn cabs touting for business and found that even McD’s has to have some sort of style in Luxor. It was a narrow fronted building, like an old Georgian Mews in a posh part of London and you just kept on climbing upwards until you found and empty table.

Note to all McD managers in UK. Stop ripping us off you rob dogs. Here we were thousands of miles from Blighty and we had four medium sized meals that would have shamed the British LARGE equivalent and were supplied with ice cold litre sized pots of fizzy pop. All this and we got change from a fiver.

Now, with m20:14 27/03/2006y appetite, I have never yet considered the sort of junk associated with this establishment as more than a stop gap in the way of food provision, but even I had had a belly full before we left there. Even more surprising was the fact that it all had a strange thing about it – taste! The bread rolls had flavour and consistency or real food, not soggy cardboard, and the meat looked like it used to be an animal at some time instead of roadkill.

Anyway, off we all went into the slightly cooler night air for a look round the town. Bob took the lead and I can only conclude he had been studying the Dave Orton guide to finding your way round strange cities, as he led us round and about and back again getting tantalisingly close to the real heart of the market, but just as quickly veering or in the opposite direction. He was even beginning to look worried as we had lost sight of every taxi.

Well after about thirty minutes he cracked, and the majority decided it was time to head back to the hotel. I was a little disappointed myself, but Annette’s gammy leg was playing up after all the hoofing round back alleys and she had narrowly missed being an ornament on an ancient Citroen van minutes earlier – no pavements or street lights. I suppose I could have wandered off on my own, but at the time the thought of leaving the others to fend for themselves seemed wrong. How on earth they thought they could remain lost for long I’ll never know. Everytime you turned a corner, there, in the near distance, was the flaming ‘M’ beckoning you back to square one.

Anyway, we went back to the hotel, got some cold beers and sat on the balcony planning the next days adventure: Morning in the museum and afternoon at the poolside.

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Copyright 2005 D.J.Orton and A.G.Morris