Hassle capital of the world
No I didn't create that nickname, but I certainly believe it! I'm not sure there are any words I could use that would accurately describe what happens in Luxor. Though I will certainly try.
The moment you step out of your hotel, taxis stop and honk at you. Horse carriage drivers yell. And this happens the ENTIRE time you are walking anywhere. People also tell outrageous lies. One driver told me it was illegal to walk down a particular side street. Another told me it was 60 km to a place that was a few blocks away and that there's no way I could walk there. This type of thing is also prevalent in other highly touristy areas of Egypt and you end up feeling like a human wallet.
I've talked to other travelers and people just end up feeling annoyed and resentful. They start ignoring everyone who talks to them. In the beginning I didn't even want to leave my hotel! I had a long chat with a British woman and two kids (who I had asked for directions after said carriage driver told me I was forbidden to walk down a particular street) who has lived in Luxor for several years and she told me she's gotten so used to ignoring people that sometimes her friend will say hello in the street and she'll just keep walking. I know it seems simple to ignore but it's really hard not to say no thank you - but once you do that it's all over. You've opened up a conversation and they're relentless. It also gets tiresome after the 100th person approaches you. I think the saddest part of all, and what I found most frustrating, is that you quickly become this harsh and suspicious person. No hello is just a friendly hello. No "Where are you from?" inquiry is innocent - it's all the beginning of a sales pitch. And everything is about getting money from you. In any other country if someone offered to take a photo for me, I would say thank you. Here it's about wanting a tip. So you end up just looking straight ahead and ignoring everyone and their hellos and I think it's kind of sad.
Luxor itself is such a popular tourist area because of its wonderful attractions. The Luxor museum, the Museum of Mummification (official winner of the TMI award), lots of temples, the Valley of the Kings where Tutankhamen's tomb was found but also tons of other fascinating tombs you can explore. All the treasures have been stolen or placed in museums but there are still beautiful decorations to see all over the walls and it is quite awesome to appreciate the work that was put into creating these tombs. (Again - if you hate your job, imagine being the guy digging the tomb in August - I'm just saying...)
The other real highlight of Luxor for me was the Temples of Karnak - a 2 sq km complex filled with sanctuaries, kiosks, pylons, and obelisks. Apparently its Temple of Amun is the largest religious building ever built. It really was quite spectacular. Of course - got there at 7 am to beat the heat and the place was already swarmed with tourists. Everyone keeps saying that the summer is slow season and I just can't imagine what some of these sights look like in December.
I will say - when it was time to leave Luxor - I was not shedding any tears. When my taxi pulled into the airport I was barely out the door before two men materialized out of nowhere and had their hands on my luggage. I literally had to wrestle it from them and say I was fine and could carry it myself. I was happy with the amazing sights, but utterly exhausted with the "la shukran" - Arabic for "no thank you" OR - please please keep harassing me until I buy whatever you're selling. I think it might be like "shalom" with its multiple meanings....