Sunday, 8 January 2012

TRAVEL - Egypt 2011, Hurghada to Luxor

You may have noticed the blog has been a little quiet over the last month and that's because I took a nice long holiday with my boyfriend to Egypt. We were desperate for some sunshine and an injection of culture so we decided to spend Christmas there too to make the most of the time off. I kept track of what we were up to each day so I'm publishing a mini diary of our adventures...

Egypt 2011

Day 1
It was a very dark 5am start but our Easyjet flight was quick and pleasant enough. We'd barely hit down on Egyptian soil (or should that be sand) and we had already had to haggle hard for our taxi to get a price that wasn't blatantly ripping us off. I'm really glad we were persistent though as the taxi driver made up his money by picking up a Russian couple on route and it was a 10 minute journey. We arrived at the Marriott Beach Resort already suspicious of anyone wanting to touch/take our bags but we needn't have been. The staff were lovely and after a fruity welcome drink we took some time to chill out in our room. It was already dark and the view of the pool area from our balcony was stunning, all twinkling and lit up. After some Egyptian beer from the minibar and a good flick through the TV channels we got ready for dinner. We stayed in the hotel that evening as we were pretty tired and opted for the buffet which was pretty good, the highlight being the sweet coconut desserts. We had a wander round the grounds, exploring in the dark before collapsing into bed, well and truly exhausted.

Egypt 2011

Day 2
After an epic sleep in the super cosy bed we got up for breakfast, buffet style. I wasn't overly inspired by the random mixture of grub so settled on some fresh bread, sausage and egg. We had a walk around before planting ourselves on some sun loungers by the pool. The resort can be quite windy this time of year but the sun is still nice and hot. The pool was about 27degrees too which wasn't bad. After a swim and  drink we moved to the beach, literally a minute away and it was a little bit more sheltered too. The sea was cold but refreshing so we had a dip. We love a bit of ping pong so when the table was free we went for it. I'm not that good at it but I do tend to win against my boyfriend, much to his disappointment. We ate lunch by the pool - pizza for me - and then later we both went for a massage. The hotel had a spa attached to it so we couldn't resist. For dinner we decided to head into the more Egyptian part of town, Ad Dahar, and our haggling efforts were improving on the taxi front. Even though I was barely showing my shins the men wouldn't leave me alone. If my boyfriend didn't know he was a 'lucky man' before then he sure does now. We settled on a Greek place for food and I opted for a scrummy chicken kebab complete with a duck made out of vegetables. I swear some staff have too much time on their hands. We stayed for a couple.of drinks and I swear I have never had a mojito quite like the one we were served up, it was like 5 liquidized limes in a glass with some token mint on the side. My cheeks were in pain by the end of it from the acidity!

Egypt 2011 

Day 3
After another good sleep it was down to breakfast and then to the beach. We checked out and then spent a few hours sunning ourselves before hopping in a taxi to the bus station in Ad Dahar... Well, on our second attempt that is. Our driver didn't exactly know where he was going. On establishing that the bus to luxor would leave at 4pm, my boyfriend and I set out to grab a snack and kill some time. Most of the places we passed seemed to just have tramps sitting out front. We stopped in a pharmacy and as I looked round I spotted a clean looking eatery upstairs in one of the buildings opposite. We didn't bother with a menu, it was all in Arabic. Instead, we allowed the waiter to recommend us something and he brought out two dishes plus a tomato based sauce. The first dish was a sort of pasta with minced beef flavoured with spices, I could taste cumin definitely. The second was made up of a kind of rice/noodle/pasta combo topped with chickpeas, lentils and crispy onions. It was such a relief that the food was so good.

After a while we headed back to the bus station and it soon became clear that the bus wasn't coming at 4pm. We asked around and eventually were told 5 which we assumed meant it would be there at 5pm... Not knowing the language made it impossible to know for sure. Just after 5 pm, after we were about to give up, the bus arrived - hurrah! The journey was a lot more comfortable than I expected and 5 hours later we arrived in Luxor. We had envisaged a taxi ride to the budget hotel we planned on staying in but with my eagle eyes I spotted a sign for it directly opposite the place the bus dropped us off, talk about luck! The hotel was right on the edge of a vibrant and bustling souk and by this time it was about 10pm. We checked into the hotel and then did a small circuit to find some grub before settling for the restaurant right outside our hotel. I had a steak sandwich while my boyfriend opted for chicken. Talking of which, the friendly and rather funny waiter decided I was worth a swap and offered James a camel; a chicken and his Egyptian wife for me. After deliberating James thought better of trading me in and we ended our evening sitting on the roof terrace admiring the view of the city from up high. The hotel is so central and overlooks Luxor temple so I'd definitely recommend it if anyone is looking for a budget hotel while there.

More pics can be found at my Flickr account plus I'll be reviewing some of the places we visited on Qype.

Coming up next, our 3 days in Luxor.

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