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Africa » Egypt » Red Sea » Sharm el-Sheikh
December 22nd 2006
Published: October 1st 2017
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Geo: 27.978, 34.3916

Up at 5am - box breakfast and Nescafe in the lounge. WE leave for the (very modern and attractive) airport, arriving before 6am. There are the usual irritating make-work procedures: one porter to cart our luggage out of the van to the door of the airport 3 meters away; another porter to take it from the security check to the check-in counter, though this one is a full 5 meters away. And, of course, each demanding to be paid, but not providing the option of hauling your luggage on your own. Although I know to expect this, I still find it annoying. But the waiting lounge is very clean, as are the toilets - in fact, with their rose granite walls, the loos are almost elegant. (Clearly, I'm tired, if I'm babbling about loos.)
We read/journal while we wait, then board the plane for our 25-minute flight to Sharm. The air is hazy, but the desert still gleams. The size and number of the mountains surprises us, especially in Sinai. The landscape is stark - more so than flying over the most barren parts of the Great Basin. There, although equally lacking in apparent life, one can see evidence of recent water flows, and roads everywhere. Not so in Sinai. We see a highway as we are about to land but little other signs of human habitation.
Our hotel is one of many massive complexes along the stretch of beach than rund from the airport towards Na'ama Bay. One passes through security at the entrance, of course. The lobby looks like any lobby in the resort world, although the Country-Western music playing on the PA is a little disconcerting - and annoying. Also, there are Christmas decorations, including a large, rather poorly-decorated gingerbread house. But the birds flying about are fun and not too messy. Also, the resort clearly caters to Russians, as one hears and sees the language everywhere. (Maybe Russians like Country-Western music ... )
Our rooms are on the third terrace down from the lobby, towards the beach. Lovely view of the Red Sea. Paul and I go to make arrangements for a dive in the afternoon. It takes a bit of detective work ... we also discover that the dive centre has only been open for a week (at least under Diego, its Italian operator). We spend an hour or so by the pool (it's too cold out to swim, and the water is frigid), then go in search of a bank or ATM. The bank closes at 1pm, but at 12:55pm when we enter, the teller tells us that he is closed because "my friends call me." But we find the ATM (better for us anyway), get cash, then have lunch at the café by the pool.
While Paul and Keegan dive, Kyla and I sit by the pool. It is very relaxing, although the sun is very intense, even though it is not hot at all. Later, Paul and Keegan return, saying that the diving is very good. They dove along a drop-off, through some impressive coral heads. Saw lots of new coral types they had not seen before as well as schools of gold fish. Had their ears and mouths cleaned by cleaner fish, which they said was actually a little painful. A new experience, though, so worth it.
The sun is going down and a cool breeze has come up. We decide to return to our rooms and read on the balcony. I channel-surf for a while - which provides an opportunity to see a "Just Say No to Terror" public service announcement. I wish I am able to understand the voice-over or read the text. In the spot, you see a boy playing with his friends, near a crowded market. The boy stops to tie his shoe, and looks up to see a handsome but fierce looking man (beardless, in Western dress) walk past. The boy follows the man who, when he reaches the market square, opens his shirt to reveal a vest covered in sticks of dynamite. Then, in slow motion, we see the havoc and devastation wrecked by the explosion he causes - men in Arab dress falling sideways, women in long skirts and veils collapsing to the pavement, market seller crushed by cars thrown about by the blast - then, in the final shot, the boy's shoe falls empty to the ground. A voice over says something, words flash across the screen, and a final text says www.noterror.info -- must check it out.
As sun sets, Paul and I go to the lobby bar for a drink, later joined by the kids. The bartender is funny; wonder if he lived in Australia or South Africa for a while, as he says, "Cheers, mate" whenever he brings us anything. The family has a nice conversation about industrial development and the Islamic banking system (about which we know virtually nothing, which makes speculation very easy).
I fall asleep again before dinner (no more cocktails for me). Paul and the kids go to a Morrocan/Lebanese restaurant. Keegan orders roast pigeon, but they are out. Settles for lamb instead (he is in carnivore paradise).


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