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Pole to Pole

Day 56: Luxor

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleMy sleeping-car berth is comfortable but the ride is ferocious. For the last two hours to Luxor the train seems possessed by devils, and Joseph has no need to knock so hard at my door, I'm awake and hanging on for dear life.

'It's 4.45,' he announces, and he lays a tray of unidentifiable clingwrapped things beside me, ' . . . nice breakfast, sir.'

At 5.35 in the morning the train pulls into Luxor, known by the Greeks as Thebes, 420 miles south of Cairo, in Upper Egypt. I cannot conceal my excitement at being here for the first time in my life. Basil, never even in Africa before, is finding the whole journey beyond description: 'This is a great picnic,' he raves, 'this is the Mother of Picnics'.

Luxor station is tastefully monumental in decoration, with tall columns, gilded details on the doors, eagle heads and a hieroglyphic design somehow incorporating power-stations, railways and ancient history.

Opposite this grand fašade there is a bicycle leaning against a wall, and lying in the dust between the bike and the wall is its owner, who hasn't had to get up as early as we have. Figures materialize from the pre-dawn gloom to offer us taxi rides. You will never stand on your own for long in Egypt.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 56
  • Country/sea: Egypt
  • Place: Luxor
  • Book page no: 121

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  • Egypt
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