Sunday, 8 January 2012
TRAVEL - Egypt 2011, Dahab
We left for the bus station in plenty of time and it was lucky we did as our driver thought we were going to the airport not bus station and had driven part way there - he was far too busy chatting away about London. We arrived at the bus station and were immediately waved over to a waiting bus headed to Dahab which left only 5 mins after it was meant to. Amazing to find some public transport leaving on time. On our drive the scenery got a lot more interesting with open spaces making way for mountains. To our surprise we were at our hotel in less than 2 hours, the sprawling Hilton Worldwide resort. This was to be our relaxation before heading home to England. We were sat down with our welcome drinks while the staff took care of everything and then escorted us and our luggage to our room. Well, I say room but they are more like apartments with 4 making up each pretty white block in Morroccan style. The room was huge with a massive balcony and king size bed... At last! It had been a lot of twin rooms so far on the trip. We put on our beach stuff and did some exploring before settling on some sun loungers to catch some rays. We also arranged a snorkle trip for the following day and played a few games of pool and table tennis. That night we gave the hotel buffet dinner a try and it was pretty good. Chicken off the bbq, fish and plenty of accompaniments and yummy desserts. We also tried out one of the bars which was so lovely but completely dead. The resort can't even be a quarter full at the moment so there are hardly any people about, especially in the evening.
Day 16, Christmas Eve
It was an early start to meet the car for our snorkelling trip. There was us and 4 divers and we started at a shoreline dive site called Canyon. It was one of the most challenging ones we've done as the beach is stony so you have to walk into the water backwards. Then, once in, you have to follow the reef along until you find a 3 metre entrance to a lagoon like area surrounded by reefs and with coral gardens underneath. There was plenty to see but the waves got to me a bit. I panicked that I wouldn't be able to find the exit again. We dried off about 10 mins before the rest of the divers got back. They'd been down to the canyon where there is a deeper crack and seen a turtle who followed them for 15 mins, even trying to get a few bites in. We had a quick drink before driving to our next site called Blue Hole which is quite famous, especially for pople practicing free diving. We sat in the cafe and had Bedouin tea while the divers' wetsuits dried off in the sun. They were all surprised that we were snorkelling without wetsuits but generally the water had been quite warm. This reef was far easier to navigate. It was a drift dive and we could simply follow the reef along with the tide taking us with it. As you get towards the exit point the reef opens up into a deep blue pool over 100 metres deep. This is where people practice the free diving.
We drove back off-road past lots of camels and had lunch at the beach bar chatting to Jamie, who had been diving with us, and his wife. Then we relaxed on the beach. That evening we Decided to head into Dahab to explore and get a nice dinner. I really liked the town, lots of shops but with a little less hassle than other places we had been. We took advantage of Happy Hour in one bar which was pretty good. The restaurants were on a bit more of a hard-sell but we eventually settled on one called 'Friends' offering a good value set seafood menu, especially for Christmas (I also bargained hard on the price and won). Our Christmas Eve dinner consisted of a delicious seafood soup, followed by 5 kinds of salad and bread. Then the staff bought out a rather garish tin foil construction filled with our main course... prawns, lobster, calamari and salmon. Only problem was the group of stray cats we'd attracted. For dessert we shared a creme caramel and the whole meal was delicious and washed down nicely with a bottle of white wine. When we came back we sunk two more glasses of wine each in the hotel bar. Well, it was Christmas after all. Tomorrow... A lie in.
Day 17, Christmas Day
We allowed ourselves a lie-in and then woke up just after 6am... Typical. After lying in bed for a while we turned on the TV and ended up watching The Perfect Storm while we woke up a bit, not exactly festive viewing! Today was the first day I really took advantage of the buffet breakfast. I had eggs, sausages, bread, beans... The works! Probably in part due to the slight hangover from the previous evening's wine. After breakfast we joined the other guests to welcome Santa to the resort... on a camel. His terrible 'Ho Ho Ho' made us giggle as did his Fila socks and black loafers. He was giving out bags of Christmas cookies, but only did it for the kids which I was miffed about (I need to grow up). We followed him down to the beach and claimed our spot while the hotel played the cheesiest music at ear-bursting volumes. During the day we played petanque, pool and ping pong and for lunch we opted for the buffet lunch. Not your traditional Christmas grub, carrot soup, chicken skewers and rice plus some Egyptian desserts. We spent an hour online catching up with what everyone back home was up to. Then, for the evening, we went into Dahab and had some supper and a couple of drinks before heading back around midnight. When we arrived back I saw that we'd been dropped off a bag of Christmas cookies which restored my faith in Father Christmas.
Day 18, Boxing Day
Today was a day of activities! We played tennis, petanque, pool and ping pong as well as hanging out on the beach and trying not to get any more sunburn. My tummy seemed to be rather rosy in particular! At 5pm we headed to the bar for a couple of beers and catch up on the football scores. We saw Jamie in there who showed us his diving pics... amazing ones of the turtle and there were a couple he took of us snorkelling from under the water which was cool. I headed upstairs after that to get my pedicure which couldn't have been any more well-timed. After a long soak the therapist got to work and I left feeling like I had someone else's feet. I think I am going to make sure I get a proper pedicure at least twice a year from now on, I'm a convert. Then it was massage time. James's had already started so I hopped on the bed and relaxed. There were moments of pain but I felt much better afterwards. I was still suffering from the camel ride! We got back to the room quite late and got ready for dinner. We tried out the Portofino, an Italian on the resort which we had entirely to ourselves. It was like they closed it especially for us. After food and a bottle of wine it was back to the room... And a Dolly Parton film which amused me no end.
On the last day of the holiday we allowed ourselves a lie-in. Breakfast was a fruit pancake with Nutella... Mmm. We packed and danced around the room the tunes as we did then played ping pong and pool before our taxi arrived. It turned out that there was a mix up and our taxi had been taken by someone else so after half an hour of faffing we finally got underway. We had our final indulgence of the holiday at the airport with mahoosive Burger King, and we bid farewell to Egypt. It was sunny and was definitely an adventure (an expensive one at that). Now I'm already looking forward to another holiday... Italy in August can't come quick enough. That's the problem with going away, it just makes you want to plan your next trip...
More pics can be found at my Flickr account plus I'll be reviewing some of the places we visited on Qype.