Still Monday 7 January 2008

In the felucca, we sailed past the Old Cataract Hotel. From the Nile, this old world hotel looks grand, perched on the granite bluff above. If you’ve seen Death on the Nile, it will also look familiar. Alex, my oldest daughter, enjoys sipping tea in old world hotels, preferably while wearing a big hat, looking mysterious. So instead of returning to Helio, our boat (our home actually), we decide to have afternoon tea at the Old Cataract.

Aswan, Egypt, Old Cataract hotel seen from the river

As it’s a fair distance from the docks to the Old Cataract, we catch a caleche. Cat sits up front with the driver this time and is pleased as punch. Me, I’m not too keen, especially when the driver whips the horse into a gallop. The poor horse is so thin, you can count its ribs. Also, we’re surrounded by busses and lorries.

Uniformed guards at the gate inform us we have to pay 85 Egyptian pounds to enter. They obviously don’t want any riff-raff hanging about. However, the entrance fee can be applied to anything you buy while here, and we are having tea. To spend all of the 170 pounds (small children are free), we even have Royal Tea.

As non-residents, we must have our tea at the lower terraces. The grand terrace where there’s a band, plush, comfortable sofas and, not least, a roof over our heads, is for residents only.

Agatha Christie was once a resident of the Old Cataract. Do I ever want to be one? Well, I’m not so sure.

Afternoon tea at the Old Cataract hotel. Aswan, Egypt

Then again, I probably will…