Conundrum. When planning to travel down the Nile what does one read? OK, clearly this is not a conundrum. It’s a no brainer. Of course I have had to reach for some classic Agatha Christie featuring the inimitable Hercule Poirot.
I’d like to stress that I’m not a die-hard Agatha fan, but I do admire her originality, her plot construction techniques, and the way in which she broke new ground with the detective genre back in the day. Plus, she delivers a frolicking good read which requires only minimal brain power – perfect for holiday cruising.
My selection has also provided food for much additional fun in terms of book location scouting/spotting and in finding entertaining opportunities to follow in the footsteps of the intrepid Agatha in her Egyptian travels. When she was traversing the Nile in the 1930s Agatha was aboard the SS Sudan – a classic river boat which we happened upon moored in Luxor on Wednesday.
Those of you who have perused Death on the Nile will know that the cast of characters first gather together in Luxor where they toddle out to inspect the wonders of the Temple before boarding the fatal vessel on its journey to Aswan. And the wonders of Luxor are certainly extraordinary as I discovered this week. In fact, all of the sites of antiquity in this country are extraordinary and there is no way I can do justice to them. This is not a travel blog, so I’ll spare you the billion or so photos I’ve taken and just share with you a few of my favourite moments:
My Nile cruise eventually brought me to Aswan where the main action of Death on the Nile takes place. It is also the home of the extraordinary Old Cataract Hotel where Agatha based herself for a year in 1937 while her archaeologist husband delved for antiquities on Elephantine Island and she penned her masterwork on the terrace of her suite.
The hotel pays homage to Christie as one of its most famous guests – there is the Agatha Christie Suite (where you can stay for a mere $7000 a night), the hotel is dotted with pics of the author and you can dine at her table in the extraordinary dining room:
Best of all, you can see the modest mahogany desk at which she wrote, ogle her wicker rocking chair and take in the view from which she drew inspiration. I think you’ll agree this is pretty astounding – but no more so than than the view I am anticipating from my Carcassonne apartment 🙂
As I toasted Agatha with a sun-downer gin and tonic my writing aspirations soared to a new level. These 10 days of Egyptian wonders have completely obliterated my work world from my head (sorry WV colleagues, but that’s how it is :-)) and my whole being is focused on this mad mission I’ve set myself.
Before I take the final and fateful plunge, however, I’m going to overload my inspiration tanks with further adventures in Prague where I will rendezvous with HWB. Farewell pyramids, hello castles!