4 – Lazy day in Sharm

04.10.2017

After the late night at the pool party I did not go diving, and I took it very slowly. I managed to get breakfast and then took advantage of the location of my room. Off to the pool for a long swim, and returning to my room and balcony to stay there until lunch to read a book. Boy, it felt good to be lazy.

I only stopped of reading for going for lunch and swim again. However, around 3pm I decided it was time to start getting ready for my trip to Cairo, as I was leaving that night. Off to the bank next to the hotel to get enough E£. Though I got a little bit confused. I didn’t fully understand the clerk when he informed me about waiting 3 days. Did he really mean it takes three days to get my £E for my crisp new €? His boss probably seeing the confused look in my face (yes, I looked more confused than usual), and he quickly explained that I would get my E£ now, but that I could only exchange more money 3 days later. It sounds a bit strange, but I am just a guest in this country so I have to accept it. I just hoped I exchanged enough money.

Money sorted I had to rest from that pressure. So I grabbed my towel, my mask and camera and headed for the beach. being asked for a ticket during my initial research trip two days before I went to reception, and Voila – I got a little ticket to enter the beach. Everything need to be in Order. Being German apparently I should fully understand that….

Following the little alley opposite of the hotel, showing proudly my ticket to the guard, and I was able to get a sun lounger next to the beach. Well, no time to relax yet. One of the touts I spoke earlier recognised me and didn’t leave me alone. Well, I need a snorkel, so I walked to the shop were the owner was already waiting for me. Yay….

What I experienced here was pure comedy. I told him I just need a snorkel. Obviously in Egyptian this means that I need a full set of mask, snorkel and fins. I repeated again that I only need a snorkel – and suddenly the Egyptian meaning was I need a mask and snorkel. After saying it for a third time the English and Egyptian definition of my request were suddenly the same. The first part covered, it was time for haggling. E£300 just for the snorkels. No fin or mask with it, just the snorkel. Around €15. Obviously I was not happy,  and the price went down a bit. The best part came after I stated that I could get a snorkel for that price in a German dive shop. The response of the owner:

“Yes, but in Germany you can only buy items Made in China…very cheap. But here you can buy products made in Egypt. Much better quality” 

I tried very hard, but I couldn’t keep my face straight and started to laugh. I know it is good to be proud of products of your country, but that was too much for me. We finally agreed a price of E£150, which was in my opinion still too high, but I needed a snorkel and I wanted to go to the water. Lesson learned…bring your gear with you!!!

Now a proud owner of a Made in Egypt Snorkel I went with into the water for a bit of snorkelling. The good thing of this part of the Naama Bay beach is, you can easily walk into the water, hardly any stones or rocks on the way. But it also means you have to swim out a bit to see some corals. After seeing the first colourful I got a little bit excited, that turned into horror. Firstly, I couldn’t use the stick for my GoPro as the screw was left in the room. And the memory card joined the screw as well. No stick but a camera without a memory card. Great. Well – I had to enjoy the view without taking photos (I know – the horror!!!). A bit away of the beach there is a coral reef, though it looks quite dead, no colourful corals, but on a positive there are plenty of colourful and beautiful fish. I even saw a couple of lion fish swimming around. I warned a few swimmers who came a little bit too close to one. It was a nice swim and snorkel session, though I must admit the underwater world at this part of the beach cannot compete against Sharks Bay. And one update of the high quality snorkel I bought – the filter was stuck twice and needed to clear it. Yeah – high quality snorkel (for the record, those photos were taken on a later day…).

Heading back to the hotel and unfortunately the pool was already closed before 5:30pm – so before sunset. This was one of little things I didn’t like about the hotel. So instead of a swim in the pool I took a shower and headed to the pool bar to have a few pre-dinner drinks, catching up with some of the German and Belarus guests. I actually enjoyed these chats.

Dinner was the usual, a variety of grilled meat and other hot dishes served outside, salads and other items served inside – and my rum & coke waiting at the table for me. Loved the attention of the waiter.

Though there was a change during dinner. Was it quiet the nights before, that night there was a show. During dinner (yeah, maybe not perfect timing….) a young Egyptian man appeared (to the delight for the female guests topless…) and he performed a fire show, with several sticks and wheels on fire. It was actually ver impressive, and everyone enjoyed the show. it was actually good to see such evening events. Though during the day quite a few Egyptian guests arrived, so the hotel got a little bit busier. Maybe this is why the shows have started.

Another nice thing was that the two entertainment girls looked after the kids during the evening. Unfortunately as part of it a few “volunteers” had to join for some dancing. Well – I had no choice to say No I guess….

After dinner I had room for one more post-dinner drink at the bar, but then it was time to make sure my bag was properly packed and I was ready to head to Watanya to catch the bus to Cairo. The departure time was 2am, but as I was not sure how often the minibuses leave I left the hotel after 00:30. The security guard of the hotel (like all the staff a very friendly person) decided I need helped and stopped a taxi for me along the road, and agreed a price of E£50. Well, no need to wait for the minibus, and off we went.

Far too early I arrived at Watanya, so I made myself comfortable at the little restaurant next to the bus offices and had a tea while watching the 01:30 GoBus for Cairo arrive and leave. This was a so-called DeluxePlus Bus, the standard bus GoBus uses for the route Sharm – Cairo. 2 Seats on each side and 2 TVs for the whole bus. Price per seat for that bus is E£140. I decided to take the Elite Plus leaving at 2am, which costs E£275. The bus offers 1 seats on one side, and 2 on the other side. Each seat has an individual screen to play games or watch movies. You also get some water and snack. The leg room is lovely and the seats are just comfortable. In my opinion it is worth the additional E£135.

Making myself comfortable in my single seat the journey to Cairo started on time. On average the journey takes around 8 hours, depending on traffic and check-points on route. And there was only one more stop, at a station near the outskirts of Sharm – after that it was non-stop to Cairo, with one or two breaks plus stopping at check points. I actually managed to get a decent amount of sleep (thanks to the comfy seats) and was only aware of one or two stops. Just before 8am I woke up, and the bus was already in Cairo. Glad to have a window seat I was fascinated to get my first impression of the city, some colourful and rather brown looking buildings, some in desperate need or repair, and a few mosques and churches while following what seems to be the highway section in town. No idea where we were, I was slightly confused when the bus stopped at the road side, and a few people got off the bus. This clearly didn’t look like Tahrir square, and one of the fellow passengers (seeing my confused look) advised me to stay in the bus. So I did. It was one stop the only stop in Cairo prior to the final destination, Tahrir Square. 20 minutes later, hitting a smaller congestion, we finally arrived – just before 9am. I made it. I was finally in Cairo.

One comment about the journey. It took only 6 1/2 hours, and it was a rather nice journey thanks to the very comfortable bus. The leg room and single seat rows made it a very comfortable journey. If you are able to sleep in a bus, it is certainly a nice way to travel between these two places. And yes, pay the higher price for the Elite Plus buses if possible. it is worth every single £ you pay more. I realised that during my return trip.

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