Souks (Market)

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We were lucky enough to spend 7 days in the very memorable and historic Luxor. During that time we struck up a friendship with a young man who worked in one of the tourist shops, close to our hotel. On his day off he very kindly suggested that he show us some of the 'real' Luxor, away from the tourist areas. Naturally we eagerly accepted.

He took us to the market where the local Egyptians did all of their shopping. It was a real eye opener and a million miles removed from our shopping experiences at places like Asda and Tesco's.

There were little wooden stalls, people selling wares straight from the the pavement or on small strips of carpet, others selling from baskets or crates. Both sides of the street were packed with all kinds of goods displayed from handicrafts, spices, meat, fish and vegetables. It was colourful, crowded and very noisy. I did not dare use my camera for fear that in the split second needed my guide and my husband would be swallowed up by the crowd and whisked away.

The meat and fish were covered in flies and openly displayed in the hot dusty road, often just inches away from the pavement. Live, scrawny chickens were on sale, trussed up and totally helpless. Those that bought them carried them around by their feet as casually as we might carry a frozen chicken in a carrier bag. I felt sorry for those poor birds but have to admit that after seeing the meat and fish on sale I lived on chicken for the rest of our stay, as I was certain that it was fresh.

One of the overwhelming memories was the colourful sight and the pungent smell of the spices. Some I recognised but many were unknown to me. One that was very common was the bright orange saffron and I have never seen this expensive spice in such quantity before.

The handicrafts ranged from slippers and belts, beautiful bright coloured tops and kaftan, sombre dark coloured cloaks and bright children's garments. Very different from the garments on sale in the average British High Street.

The Egyptians all seemed to be arguing, hustling, pushing and shouting and the area was not even shut off from traffic, which moved in both directions, as quickly as it was able to. How accidents were avoided was a mystery. It was all a bit scary but what an experience!! It was a very memorable part of a wonderful holiday and I was so grateful to our young host for giving us a taste of the 'real' Luxor.

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