Sunday, 5 January 2014

Sharm el Sheik, Egypt - a bit of winter sun (part two)

As you know I said goodbye to 2013 in Sharm el Sheik with the Boy (read part one here). After an emotional year we needed a break. Just the two of us and some relaxation time. Although me being me, a ‘holiday of doing nothing’ did involve doing quite a lot! 

But I certainly did manage to switch off (I even read a WHOLE book in a week for the first time). However, I took switching off literally, which not only meant relaxing but a plethora of blonde moments. More than usual.
Which included classics such as:
  • Walking into the bedroom wall thinking it was the entrance to the toilet
  • Announcing “I didn’t know they drove on the same side of the road as us” when they in fact drive on the right
  • Not realising I had cut my foot and freaking out at all the blood on the bathroom floor
  • Cooing over the swan made from our towels and two seconds later gobbing off that the cleaner hadn’t left us any clean towels 

Anyway.I blogged about my general thoughts about the place and the people etc but now for the more exciting stuff…

getting ready for snorkelling

Day one: spa afternoon and Old Market
After a  post lunch chill by the pool, we were encouraged to have a “couple’s spa treatment” in the afternoon, which after some initial grumbles from the Boy, I think he secretly enjoyed it – after all, who doesn’t enjoy two hours of massages, face masks, body scrubs, sauna’s, steam rooms and Jacuzzi time!!! At just under 200 euros this wasn’t cheap but for two of you, for two hours I think it was pretty reasonable. Obviously I couldn’t really take photos during this so no photos to show, but it was blissful and calming so fully recommend a treatment if you are there.

many lanterns fill the market 

After dinner, we headed in a taxi to the Old Market. Seeing as we could see the hotel sign from the market I assume that actually it was very walkable distance but the fact that everywhere is a dual carriage way and you have to wait for particular spots to do a U turn, it made it seem further from Il Mercarto than it was.

Ras Mohammed trip

ay-ay captain

This wasn’t how I imagined it – I think I was expecting more of the kind of markets I saw in Morocco when I was a teenager. Nonetheless it was a market and I bagged a few gorgeous pashminas, some herbs and a lamp for my nan that in my wisdom, refereed to it as a “teapot”, leading to the Boy then taking the piss out of me cos “the genie did come out of the magic teapot didn’t he?”. We stayed for two hours which included a stop for a 
drink, but an hour would have done.

Nice enough of a visit but remember what I said yesterday about the men, hassling and bartering.

Day two: boat trip to Ras Mohammed
In my opinion, no holiday is complete without a boat trip so we boarded “Caeser” and headed off to Ras Mohammed, the world’s second largest coral reef. We struck lucky with this tour as the 40 person boat had us two and one other family on it. If I hadn’t been so cold, I would have liked to made use of the area of deck that looked like it was purpose built for napping and tanning but even though I was wearing a wet suit when snorkelling, my raynauds set it and that was me freezing cold for the rest of the trip.

2nd boat crash of the day!

Worth it though as the coral reef was stunning, bursting with tropical fish. The only ones I could name was a parrot fish and a “nemo” but the variety of fish so close to the surface left me feeling as if I was in the London aquarium.

ah-hoy there

Day three: scuba diving and Na’ama Bay
This is something that has been sitting on the bucket list for some time now but I have always had issues with my ears so never got round to doing it when I had my gap year in Oz or when we back flash-packed around Thailand in 2nd year uni. But after being given the medical thumbs up, I was determined to give it a try.

We went with the Red Sea Diving College (Na’ama Bay) who I would thoroughly recommend although I just did a basic 25 min dive, not a PADI.  But that was enough for my first attempt, to dip my toe into the water (literally). I thought snorkelling here was good so you can imagine how pant-wetting excited I was about being under water with the fish.

So excited it turned me a bit dappy - when told to breathe out, I ignored the mask I was holday and just huffed a load of air out and then laughed at myself so much I knocked my head back, smacking it onto my tank. duh. 

I also got a confession...
I had a mini freak out. When practising putting my face in the water and using the oxygen tanks to breathe I felt totally unable to breathe to the point I panicked and had to come back up. The Boy was already off and away (this wasn’t his first dive) so there I was freaking out, so much so, I actually started to shed a tear. A few actually. Yup. I had a mask on and it was starting to fill with my tears. #embarrassing.

But Tracy our instructor was amazing and after three attempts and some deep breaths I was off and away for 25 minutes of serenity. Oh and she held my hand the whole time! #iamcool

After dinner at the hotel, we headed back to Na’ama Bay for a few cocktails. Na’ama Bay advertises itself as the “Las Vegas of Egypt”. Never having been to Vegas I am not an expert to comment but it’s one casino and the lack of strippers or massive neon lights makes me think that they may be over egging that title. But this is certainly where the night life is at, with bars open to 4am.

this shisha looks like it has stepped 
right out of a carnival

recline. relax

We stopped off at a beduin style bar kitted out with pillows and rugs to lazily recline on. Not sure of the name, all the bars seemed to merge into one, but the BOGOF cocktails were delicious (recommend the strawberry daiquiri) and the atmosphere relaxed.

would recommend strawberry daiquiri

Day four: Pacha
We hadn’t a clue how we were going to spend New Year’s Eve before we left but we ended up in Pacha. As a lover of Ibiza I was so up for this, whereas the Boy who generally hates clubbing wasn’t so, but did admit he had a “fun and intriguing time” (his own words), managing to spend 4 hours there dancing away! With the ariel acrobats and dancers it was a fitting party atmosphere to see in 2014. 15 euros entry seemed reasonable too but don’t be fooled into thinking this to be the equivalent of Ibiza’s Pacha – with it costing more like 50 euros to get in, Ibiza is obviously bigger and better.

loving it in Pacha
the crowd. the dancers. the dj

ariel acrobatics

Day five: quad biking and star gazing
Whilst most people were nursing a hangover, we had an excursion to the desert booked. A few hours of quad biking, dinner in a Beduin tent with fire show, finished off with star gazing. And obviously a camel rid chucked in too.

This was my first time in the desert and I must admit, it was actually really good. I thought it might be bland scenery but it felt really tranquil and relaxing. I liked it. Quad biking into the desert is something I would recommend. Only down side was the size of the group. A coach load of people meant that it was a bit slow at times and I wanted to go a bit faster. Probably best though as this was the first quad bike I have been on that I haven’t broken. My friend Bec is going to be sooo proud.

can't escape the camels!

qaud biking in the desert!

One words sums up star gazing for me.
Staring at the star studded sky in the desert is one of them “wow” moments.  Learning about the various stars was geekishly cool too – did you know that a red-coloured star is dying whilst a blue one is growing?

I can’t really say how expensive in general Egypt is as we ate all our meals in the all-inclusive hotel or with the excursions, but I think I saw cocktails for about 4 quid and a steak for a tenner when we were out and about. The trips seemed a little pricey personally but I don’t usually go on group tours such as the ones we did so maybe that is the going price.

If you’re heading to Sharm for a break of any kind, all inclusive isn’t a bad bet and I gather that most of the hotels are. Only downside – expect to pack on the pounds. With 20 desserts on offer, buckets of bread rolls and a huge cheese board every night, I suppose it’s no surprise I have put on half a stone!

X x X   

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