A Travellerspoint blog

March 2019

The Red Sea, Egypt

A great way to relax

sunny 27 °C

Days. 19 - 24

Hurghada. The Arabia Azur resort was a bit daunting for us at first, quite a big change from the noise and bustle of Luxor, but after a day we settled in nicely enjoying the sun, sea and endless food.

Our days were pretty much the same:

Claim a beach sun bed with our towels
Breakfast buffet
To the beach to read, turn on the rotisserie every half hour, basting in sunscreen often.
As soon as I arrived my pool guy will bring me a cappuccino
Swim, snorkel
More baking and reading
Is it lunch time yet? Belly up to the buffet
More of the same again until 4PM,
nap time
Dinner buffet

We met lots of people, but conversations were mostly on the surface as many did not speak much english and we did not speak German which is what most of the guest were.

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The staff were excellent. 45 days on then one or two weeks off. Many lived in Luxor and came for work. They work very hard, 12 hour days and always have a smile on their face and love to joke. Everyone is made to feel like they are the most important guest there.

A lifeguard would visit me on the beach and practice his english, saying a word and I would give the explanations and then use it in a sentence. When he came to the word ‘stingy’ we used it in a sentence but I suggested he may not want to use that word when talking to tourists
He crossed it off his list.

One day we went on a boat tour to snorkel in a couple different spots. There were 12 of us on a fairly large boat and our first stop was to watch Nile dolphins playing in the water.
Three different stops to snorkel and a stop on a beach for an hour. I was not really impressed with it at all. The snorkelling in front of our hotel was better.

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Lots of pink jelly fish, but they didn’t seem to bother anyone thankfully.

We walked to the marina one afternoon, and one day when I was having my afternoon sleep Doug went off on an adventure into the old part of town and came back wth lots of stories to tell .

Days 25-30

We decided to split up the time between two different resorts on two different reefs.
The Serenity Makadi bay was more luxurious with beautiful grounds, two salt water and two fresh water pools, and a beach out front with plenty of sun beds, umbrellas and windscreens. Our room was large and on the ground floor facing one of the salt water pools. Unfortunately the pool was too cold to go in, I know because I tried one day and it took forever to warm up again. The sea was warmer.

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Our routine here was very similar as before. I read three books which was great. The food was so much better and my vegetarian needs were met, with the chef meeting me at each meal to point out dishes that did not have meat.

One young waiter would come at each meal and teach Doug and I a new Arabic phrase. He would pronounce it, give the meaning and we would repeat.
He would say it again and we would repeat
Inevitably he would shake his head and walk off frustrated with us as we would mispronounce it terribly.
All in good fun.

We arrived during a big wind storm and the red flag was flying, but the next day we were back to yellow and ventured into the water down a ladder at the end of the pier

It was outstanding. Many tropical fish, and the coral! It looked like beds of purple and green heather growing under the crystal clear water. This is the best place I have ever snorkelled and we went in twice day. The water temperature was on the cooler side so we could only stay in 30-40 minutes at a time. The Red Sea is so salty you can lay on the top and float with ease.

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We did go to a couple of shows but mostly we just had a late dinner than went back to our room to read. We met lots of people and conversations were a bit easier here as more people spoke English. Guests came from Germany but also lots from England, Egypt and other parts of Europe. There were people of all ages as well as many young family’s which is always great to be around young children , all who were so well behaved.

One afternoon I was approached by a man on the beach wanting to sell treatments at the attached spa, so I agreed to a needed colouring and haircut.

The outside of the Spa looked very promising but that’s where it ended. Inside was in great need of renovation and a good cleaning. I met my hairdresser in a small room with three chairs. Her english was minimal and I like to have a hairdresser who has a good cut herself, but of course I could not see her hair as she was in a full headscarf. I came armed with photos, haircuts with light color with lowlights.
“Just a trim.”
Ok ok she said

What was I thinking?

Two hours later my hair is very bleached, not sure what happened to the lowlights, and I am scalped.
I had memories of my dog, a Bichon frieze, when he would come home from the groomers with a really bad short haircut. He would hide under the bed in embarrassment for a few days.

I have had a couple of trips too many to the buffet to fit under the bed

My hair grows fast though, and I have a hat.

An ( expensive) lesson learned

This morning we sat with a couple from northern Russia for breakfast. They said that the snorkelling here is no where near as good as Sharm el sheik, north of here on the Sinai peninsula . Hmmmmm. We may make a trip back at some point to check that out

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Day 31

Our relaxing vacation came to an end too soon, we were really enjoying the time there so much. Today we flew back to Cairo for the last two nights in Egypt. Our hotel arranged an airport pick up for us and in an hour we were checking into our 2 star hotel. Well maybe 3. Great location though, right across from the museum and near all the expensive hotels on Tahrir square where the uprising (revolution) was a few years ago. We have a balcony over looking the very busy street with non stop honking. Quite a change from our quiet beach retreat.

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We went out for a late lunch/ early dinner at a restaurant in a nice hotel across the street and then wandered about for a few hours down back lanes and small streets. I lost my lipstick a couple of weeks ago and could not find any place in hurghada to buy some. I found a small shop here and bought two for under 6$. I feel human again with my short bleached hair and bright pink lips.

Doug wandered around again later on and I just hung out in our room

Day. 32

Our last full day in Egypt. Last night we arranged to have a guide pick us up this morning and take us on a walking tour of Islamic Cairo. He arrived at 8 AM and we drove to two large mosques, Hassan and Mohammed Ali. The later is from the 8th century and the Hassan from the 18th. Very impressive and beautiful with intricate art of marble and cedar inlaid with ebony and ivory.
In the Hassan mosque lies the mausoleum of the Shah of Iran and also king Faruok.

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Our next stop was the Islamic museum which was very well laid out with some beautiful pieces. A class room of university art students were scattered about drawing some of the artifacts

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A local Egyptian souk was our next stop, through a medieval area, the first walled area of Cairo.

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This is Egyptian cotton

We had a stop for some Turkish coffee and then onto the tourist bazaar

Our Egyptologist, Eman was a wealth of information about many subjects regarding old and current Egypt and I felt I could ask him many questions about religion politics and customs without problem. I was not so lucky a previous time here so I have learned to tread lightly now with my overly inquisitive mind and big mouth.

I bought some nice living room pillow cases in red and Doug got a small package of freshly roasted coffee that we will try at home . Oranges and bananas were also purchased as there isn’t any fruit at breakfast

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We were dropped off at 2:30PM and we were famished! We found an Egyptian restaurant near our hotel and were delighted to enjoy a delicious meal of falafel, roasted vegetables, tahini, foul ( a local vegetarian bean dish) and Doug also had barbecue chicken. This was all washed down with tasty cold lemon mint drinks

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After a sleep and rest in our room we walked the streets of Cairo for a few hours looking for a lamp Doug saw in the market but had decided not to buy.

Cairo has 20 million people. That is more than half the population of Canada living in this one city, so naturally it is very busy. The streets were very crowded with people walking about as we were.

The shopping is divided into areas, I have seen this in other cities as well. Blocks and blocks of shoe stores, nothing but shoes of every description for a mile or more

A block over were windshields and car parts as far as the eye can see.

Next block jewelry and on it goes.

But no lamps. We felt very comfortable walking everywhere, even down alleyways. Police presence is very high.

Muslim’s don’t drink alcohol so they socialize in coffee shops and sheesha shops. Sheesha is tobacco mixed with a flavour like apple or fruits and smoked with a large water pipe. There are many small shops everywhere full of mostly men. There are a number of larger outdoor ones that we found with young women in as well.

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We noticed that most Egyptian men also smoke regular cigarettes.

Day 33 and 34

Our transfer to the airport was at 7:30AM for our 10:30 flight to Athens. Being a Friday traffic was light and we arrived at 8. We decided to check both suitcases and then waited until boarding time. Security was different here. At the flight gate you had to go through a very thorough screening and pat down before getting on the plane. Makes sense really

In Hurghada and Cairo they allowed open food through security and water in my metal water bottle, they just asked that you take a drink or eat some of what you are carrying. Brilliant, I wish all airports did this. I had had same experience in Tanzania

We boarded our flight, settled in, taxied down the run way and we were then informed that we needed to return to the gate for a technical issue. We all deplaned and were bussed back to the waiting room where we waited for a couple of hours until we did it all again

I met a lovely woman my age from Santa Barbra California and we had a great conversation about Egypt and our experience here.

We didn’t have any real plans today so the delay was not the end of the world.

So we finally arrived at our hotel on the sea in a small town called Rafina which is around half hour from the Athens airport
Tomorrow we will just walk the sea boardwalk and prepare for our 16 hour flight home on Sunday, March 3 rd.

Rafina
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We had an amazing trip to Egypt and I am so happy we came. We are even talking about a return trip in the near future.
It will be great to be home and sleep in our own beds for now however. Thanks for following along. Until next time.

Posted by debbep 12:44 Archived in Egypt Comments (7)

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