This is a circular walking tour which begins and ends in close proximity to the Sonesta Hotel in Khaled Ibn el Walid Street which is the road which starts at the Iberotel Hotel (and HSBC bank) at the southern end of the Corniche (the road which runs along the River Nile)
Next to the Sonesta Hotel is the Municipal Swimming pool provided for the local children and youth of Luxor. Here small children can play in a supervised pool at the front of the complex, and behind that is a much larger pool for older children. Tourists may take their own children into these pools provided they are there to supervise and look after them, They would probably only be charged about 10 el for each child, but do bear in mind this is not a normal tourist facility, and parents have to take full responsibility for their own children. Water wings are available if you ask one of the attendants, and it is a good opportunity for foreign children to play and get to know the Egyptian children and make friends.
Opposite the Municipal Swimming Pool is a Street called Sherifa el Roda Street. It is called by the locals “Little Britain Street” because of the high number of restaurants and businesses run by English people. On the right-hand corner is Zota’s Bazaar, and on the second floor (entrance through Zota’s Bazaar) is the King’s Head Pub. For those who would like to meet Dr. Reda Zahir, a well-known Egyptian painter/artist, you can walk through Zota’s bazaar to the end, turn right and go up the stairs into his studio. He has about a 100 of his paintings on display. There is not the slightest pressure to buy any of his works and he is always pleased to see any other artists or art lovers.
On the ground floor of the same building is a new Sushi restaurant. Sushi doesn’t seem to have proved very popular apparently, but you are always welcome to try it, and the Egyptian owners run the place to the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness.
Going past the Sushi restaurant, on the left hand side of the road, upstairs, is Joan’s Restaurant. This is licensed for alcohol but we have not tried this restaurant and have little experience of the food and service available. A few meters down on the right-hand side is Dean’s Bistro. There is no alcohol license at these premises, but is an ideal place for a quick snack, coffee or lunch. Evening meals are also available up to about 9 p.m. The menu tends to change frequently, but a chalk board is placed outside to give one an idea of what’s on offer on a particular day.
Next to Dean’s Bistro is the Lantern Restaurant. This is a fully licensed and well-appointed restaurant which is one of the most popular restaurants in town. It is known for its good quality and freshly cooked food. As with all the best restaurants, it is often difficult to get a table and therefore pre-booking is advisable. It is run by Debbie and Nasser, is extremely friendly, and highly recommended. It is best known for its evening service, but is open from about 12 noon for lunches, or just a quick coffee or cool glass of lager. They also do baguettes made with French bread and a number of fillings made freshly as ordered, just right perhaps for a ploughman-type lunch.
About fifty paces further on the left hand side of the road is an Egyptian-owned and run Pharmacy for anyone in need of toiletries, sun cream or medications. All Pharmacists in Egypt are also qualified as doctors and can advise on problems and recommend the best medicines available. Most products have the price printed on the box or packaging, but do ask before you purchase how much a product costs, as pharmacists are allowed to charge what they wish for the products they sell, and there is no such thing as ‘recommended price’. So do check on the price of articles before you buy.
Opposite, is a small Egyptian-owned café which serves quick food, sandwiches, tea and coffee etc. called ‘Queens Coffee Shop’. Outside is usually a chalk board displaying a range of available snacks, and is a good place to have a quick coffee, Nescafe style, or something light to eat during the day.
To the left of this is one of the more traditional coffee shops. This is a very safe and friendly coffee shop and if one is feeling brave, then why not call in and try a Shisha or a cold Schweppes. It is not a place normally geared up for the tourist but if you are in Egypt then why not experience an Egyptian coffee shop. However, usually the last thing one gets in an Egyptian coffee shop is indeed coffee. The owner is a very nice Egyptian named Gamal. Why not ask if he is available and say hello, he speaks very good English and always loves to talk to tourists and has many friends amongst the ex-pat community in Luxor.
On the left again, slightly further down the road is a small ‘supermarket’ which sells mostly local products and next to this is an Egyptian ‘local’ restaurant. Here the food is of a high standard, the restaurant is kept clean and one can try real Egyptian food at extremely low cost. You can sit inside or have a ‘take’ away, so be brave and try it if you feel inclined. It is recommended by ex-pats, and a number of them use it regularly.
Next, on the left we come to “Snobs” restaurant which is also of a high standard of quality and service. Unfortunately since other establishments have opened up near to the top end of the street, this once very popular restaurant seems to have gone slightly out of fashion. However, it is still owned by the same original people, and still produces the same high quality food for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, it is unlicensed for alcohol and will be unpopular with some for that reason. But if you are not bothered about alcohol, then it is well worth a visit for the food alone.
Opposite to Snobs is the Casablanca Restaurant which is predominantly a fish restaurant so, if you are into fish, then this seems to be the place to come. We do not have a great deal of feedback on this place, and so are unfortunately not in a position to give a fuller report. It is, however, unlicensed for alcohol.
If you continue down on the right a little further, you will come to the workshop of the Woodcarver (shown above). If it is open, the owner is usually sitting outside or will be working on one of his latest creations. He is extremely skilled and supplies many of the shops in the tourist bazaars. If you like wood products, then this is the place to buy them. The prices here will be approximately only one third of the price charged in many of the bazaars, as they simply buy from him and add on rather large selling commissions.
The owner is a very friendly Egyptian and doesn’t mind people looking around in his workshop and there is never any pressure to buy anything.
When you get to the end of the road, the last shop is the “Government Shop”. If it is open, then why not call in and have a look around. It is on two or three floors, and everything sold here is a ‘fixed price’ Everyone pays the same price whether they are Egyptians or tourists. It is, however, not so much a tourist shop as a home shop and has an excellent range of towels. Because of its fixed prices, this shop is very popular with residents. You will be made welcome and the staff are very friendly, and of course there is no pressure to buy anything if you just want to browse.
If you now go further down the street, then turn left, there are one or two interesting shops on the left hand side, and there is one of Luxor’s Police Stations, guarded as they all are by sentries on duty outside wearing all their best apparel. A hundred meters or so further on you will come to “Puddleduck” (as in Gemima) Restaurant on the left hand side. This is a brand new restaurant and still to be assessed but seems very promising. It is now run by an English couple and changes its menu daily through a specials board.
You need to turn left at this corner which will bring you back approximately to your starting point. However just across the road, you will notice a playground full of children with their parents. This is called Nadr el-Madina which means “Club Medina” It is primarily for the benefit of local children to have a day or evening out with their parents at very low cost. You are welcome to walk in, there is no charge, and if you have children who want to try out the swings and roundabouts, it only cost l el to go in. However, you do have to supervise your own children. Afterwards you can always take a cold Schweppes or ice cream sitting at any of the tables and chairs, all at ‘local’ price, and absorb the Egyptian culture.
If you now begin your walk up St. Joseph Street, (so called because it leads to the St. Joseph Hotel) you will only encounter two or three places of interest, two supermarkets, one is local and run by an Egyptian. Here you can buy almost anything and prices are local prices. Next to this is ‘Arkwrights’, the Gourmet food store which sells a range of hard to get imported products to Egypt, and is popular amongst ex-pats. It serves a range of sandwiches and does lunch boxes for excursions and days on the river.
Close by, there is an Indian Restaurant called “Taste of India” which is run by an English man Russell who has a reputation for producing good Indian curries, so if you like Indian food, you might like to give him a try. There is also an excellent tea-shop called Tutti Frutti which is work a visit. Opposite is the local football club where a new stand is being built.
If you head off to the top of the road you will arrive at the St. Joseph’s Hotel, and if you bear left you will come back to the Sonesta Hotel where we started off. If you bear right and keep walking you will arrive at the Iberotel (HSBC bank) and the Southern end of the Corniche which runs along the Nile.
Do take a copy of this ‘walk’ and explore. We would welcome any feedback from you regarding any of these establishments mentioned as without your help we are unable to make recommendations. However, like all good guides we would prefer to concentrate on positive aspects.