On balance, I think this trip worked really well. We absolutely needed the guide to act as fixer to make sure everything went more or less to plan. There is no way we could have negotiated train stations or getting to the various sites on our own. By choosing a family oriented tour we managed most of the highlights but weren't packing in every minute the way a tour group would. We had plenty of pool time and when we had reached the kids' saturation level, we were able to move on rather than waiting on other people with longer attention spans. We missed a lot but it made a great taster and was enough to make me want to come again.
The felucca was the highlight of the trip. Very relaxed and easy. Iain loved the time to read, Hamish loved figuring out how cooking aboard worked.
The people were friendly and both boys figured out how to enjoy the bazaar without feeling hassled. They both now simply walk around saying no thank you all the time though they politely ask questions when asked.
Food in general worked well. While the food perhaps did not have some of the exoticism of other places in the middle east, it was well prepared and tasty. The boys never struggled with any of the food. Luxor was probably the least interesting food. Partly because the home cooked food on the fellucca was so good and partly because we didn't put enough effort into seeking out someplace better.
Both boys are old enough at five and seven to carry their own packs which helped a lot getting around. It also meant small packs so less room for shopping which helped.
So what didn't work. The boys were really burnt out by the end of our day in Luxor. Getting up at five and doing a balloon trip, a donkey trip, the Valley of the Kings, and a temple all before noon and then staying up for a ten pm train was a lot.
We were leftwith a day in Cairo on the end of the trip that they didn't have the energy to deal with.
We needed a lot more cash than we planned on. Definitely not as easy to use credit cards or ATM machines. More importantly, people wanted hard currencies so going to the cash machine didn't help. We should have brought more small bills in dollars or sterling or Euros.
If seeing the sun rise from the hot air balloon is important, you must insist on the first trip of the day. The sunrise trip can mean the one just after the sun has come up, leaving several other guest disapointed.
We should have come with another family or made an effort to hook up with people along the way as the boys got tired of each other along the way. A day of fighting and grouchiness seemed to resolve itself on the felucca though.
The boys did a good job with all of the moving. Aswan was the only place we had more than one night. For those who don't like all the packing or sleeping in different places, it would have been hard. The boys are far more rested than Peter and I it must be said.
As usual, we failed at journal writing and learning any of the local language. While I think it brought to life what he's been studying at school, I am not sure Iain is really taking away more information than he came with.
Every trip seemsto have pictures you just couldn't get. Most of mine this trip were because outside of monumnents we were fairly contained in moving vehicles making some pictures tricky. So I missed the men in the ahwah smoking their water pipes in the evening and the women washing the clothes in the canal each morning. I missed the two teenage boys about to jump in the canal for a swim. Mostly, I missed the two boys just a little younger than Iain and Hamish holding hands through the field to come see the balloon landing. Taking the picture would have meant they posed and lost the lovely bit of two brothers wandering together hand in hand.
On balance, this trip gave me a lot more confidence about the boys' ability to travel to more challenging locations. They took it all in stride and generally rolled with it all.
Our books that inspired this trip are Rick Riordan's Kane Chronicles. I think H has listened to the audible versions of the entire series at least half a dozen times. As always, Riordan does agreat job of combining modern narrative with classic mythology.