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Published: June 11th 2017
So, today turned out differently than we had planned, but we had an enjoyable day. First to our arrival in Sharm el Sheikh yesterday afternoon. The flight from Cairo was just one hour and was on a pretty small plane (two seats on either side of the aisle). There were only a few other Western tourists on board. Tourism in this area has been hit very hard, as it has in the rest of Egypt and Jordan. There used to be lots of tourists from England and Russia going to the Red Sea resorts on package tours, but this has dropped off considerably (in the case of Russia I think completely).
We got picked up from the Sharm airport and drove about one hour up the Sinai coast to Dahab. I had no idea the scenery would be so rugged and beautiful. There were dramatic hills and mountains the whole way.
As we entered Dahab we saw many unfinished buildings which have been abandoned. As we drove down the main street in Dahab I was amazed at all the abandoned businesses. So many shops and hotels have shut down. It's really sad for the area.
We checked into
the Acacia Hotel. Our room is fairly basic (the shower is the teeniest I have used in a long time!) but it is a cute hotel and the staff are very nice. (We actually switched rooms and now have one on the second floor with a private balcony).
We went for a walk down the main street to check out the town and have dinner. We were constantly accosted by the shopkeepers along the way, which was unfortunate because it doesn't really want to make us want to do it again! They are all trying to get you to come into their shop or restaurant. We ended up having tea with one chatty shopkeeper and got shown the entire contents of another shop by the eager owner. After about a 20 min walk (plus the time for tea etc) we found the restaurant that had been recommended to us: Shark Restaurant. We selected our fresh fish from the display and agreed on how it would be cooked (and then went a few doors down to get a couple of beer because the restaurant didn't have a licence for alcohol), and then settled in. It was a really cute place
with excellent service. And the food was really good too. There were lots of cats around, so we found eager takers for our leftover fish! There are lots of dogs and cats roaming around Dahab, but they seem to be in pretty good condition. There are numerous cats at the hotel too.
At the end of the meal the server brought a large brass pitcher and bowl (something out of the Arabian Nights) which was to clean our hands. He squeezed half a lemon over our hands, then poured warm water over them, and handed us napkins to dry them. It was so nice. We then walked back to the hotel, stopping at a jeweller's booth to ask about getting a silver pendant with our names written in Arabic. The jeweller is making them now and we'll pick them up later tonight. We braved the shopkeeper onslaught, bought some water, and had a fairly early night to be ready for our 7:30 start for our day tour to St. Katherine's Monastery, which we had booked through Dahab Urban Adventures,
We were ready at 7:30 this morning, breakfasts boxes in hand, but unfortunately the guide never showed up, and
when we called they said they didn't have a record of our booking. We booked and paid for it back in February. We weren't very happy, to say the least. They said we could do the tour tomorrow, but that messed up our plans for the rest of the time in Dahab. We had planned on diving tomorrow. But changing the tour to tomorrow doesn't leave enough time for us to get scuba diver certified. It was disappointing but what can you do. We didn't have our hearts set on diving anyway and were ok with snorkelling instead.
So we ended up booking the tour to St. Katherine's for tomorrow, and scheduling snorkelling for today instead, at 10 am. We had a wonderful time snorkelling at a place called Moray Garden. It was about a 20 min drive from the hotel. We asked to be picked up at 2 pm, so we had about 3 1/2 hrs there. We were at the Dolphin Cafe beach club area (through they don't call it a beach club but I don't know what to call it). There were cushions and rugs and low tables under a canopy, plus loungers in the sun.
It was a really nice area to hang out in, in between snorkelling. We went in three separate times and it was just amazing. Just a few feet off shore is a beautiful coral reef full of AMAZING fish. I just couldn't believe it. There were so many different brightly coloured fish, and the reef itself was so fascinating too. The dive shop in the hotel, Liquid Adventures, drove us to the site and provided us with dive boots and fins (we brought our own snorkels and mask).
The other people at Dolphins all seemed to be German or Dutch or something similar. No English speaking tourists were around. We had a fresh juice, and later Turkish coffee. We ordered a sandwich for lunch but it took so long we gave up on it (by that time our driver was there to pick us up for the drive back to the hotel). So when we got back we went a few doors down to buy a few cans of Stella and Sakara Gold beer, and a few doors down the other way to get take out falafel, and we enjoyed it on our balcony. Very nice!
late lunch we had a refreshing dip in the hotel pool, and then I showered. The rep from Dahab Urban Adventures had emailed us an apology for the mix up, and said she would drop by, which she did, to apologize in person. We appreciated that, and we are very much looking forward to our tour tomorrow. We'll be ready at 7:30, breakfast boxes in hand, and I'm sure we will have a fabulous day!
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