Sunday, February 20, 2011

Egypt: During its most unstable weekend...


So we really did manage to make it out to Egypt last weekend. Originally it was just a quick trip to a warm climate to see the pyramids and get a feeling for what Sharm is like.  It's really busy at work and I didn't have a lot of vacation days left so to be able to fit in something that we've both always wanted to do sounded like a perfect vacation idea.  If we flew before the end of February our trip would be almost 50% cheaper so we rushed to buy our tickets on January 18th...   As the days went by and things in Egypt became really unstable we were constantly flipping back and forth about going. We did have the option to get our money back because of the unrest but it was complicated because there was no official warning for British citizens to not travel to Sharm el-Sheikh.
When we arrived on a half full plane into an empty airport we could tell things were much more quiet in Sharm then we had thought.    We we given a beautiful room that looked out to the sea and in the morning we quietly ate from our wide array of breakfast buffet options with just a handful of other very tanned British holidayers.  Afterwards we set out to explore the  area and took the shuttle to Naama Bay.  We discovered the strange scenario where there were no tourists but everything was still open and filled with employees just sitting around waiting for business.  Even the moment that we stepped out into the streets you would see heads turn wondering if you might be their next customer and some would approach you trying to entice you to enter their shop and buy something.    Generally aside from it being rather creepy it was great not having to worry about getting instant service or needing to book things ahead of time.
Since our trip out to Cairo to see the Pyramids was no longer running (nor any tours to Cairo, Luxor or Alexandria) our choices were limited to the Sharm area.    Our first tour was into the desert for some stargazing which for a surprisingly small amount of money we were given a very involved a very informative tour learning of the lifestyle and foods of the Egyptian people who live in the desert.  Our tour guide was fantastic at telling us about all types of issues with Egyptian people, the topic usually lead back to the conflicts that were happening in Cairo.  In fact it was while we were out in the middle of this desert that Mubarak stepped down which came as a big relief to everyone since as we were being shuttled in we were told that Mubarak had secretly fled to Sharm where his holiday palace is...   After the dinner, show and some interesting star gazing including a very strong telescope to see Jupiter and the creators on the moon we returned to the quiet resort and caught up with all the news on the TV.  
The next day we decided to do some snorkling which was quite easy as there were beautiful fish swimming around just at the end of the docks at our resort.   I was really happy with some photos with our underwater camera of all these colourful fish swimming right up to me which I was looking forward to posting... however just last night while sleeping we had about £500 of electronics stolen from our flat because we had accidentally forgotten to lock the patio door.*ARGG!!*   Along with our Android phone and laptop we also lost the camera before I had been able transfer the photos over to the computer.  It's pretty disappointing for both the loss of equipment and the pictures but thankfully they didn't steal everything and most of my pictures were taken with my camera phone.   It's been a pretty important lesson and a sobering reminder for us to be more careful with our stuff living in Walthamstow.
Anyway... the rest of the trip went quite well we tried to take advantage of as much as we could with some quading, a show to fantasia 1001 nights and even some ice skating on our own private rink! (for only 3 pounds!)
To be honest Sharm is a great nice place to vacation, it's understandable why so many British people go there in the winter but I still feel like we missed the point of what is so great about Egypt.  We were given the smoke and mirrors of what Egypt is like and missed what originally inspired us to go there.   Hopefully one day we'll be able to go back again and finish the rest of our trip but at this point there's just too many more places to see just in Europe.  (Plus I have to get a new underwater camera first...)

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