Tagged in: Sharm el Sheikh

Sharm el Sheikh New Year 2011/12

Sun on the Alps

Now I know why we avoid travelling during the school holidays! Falcon flight Dublin to Sharm el Sheikh bit like a sardine can and, can you believe, it no bar service at all!!

Arrived in one piece and flew through immigration with no problems which is quite an achievement for Egypt.  There was a taxi awaiting us and we were whisked away to the Savoy. As one would expect reception was efficient, our luggage disappeared and we were escorted to our room.  The sea view from the balcony was not apparent; it being around 10.30 local so we made straight for the bar. It is a strange feature of Egypt, or Sharm in particular, that nowhere seems to serve dry ginger. Still we managed without. My one complaint is that the smoking ban has not caught on and although they have a no smoking area the fans ensure that the offending cloud is spread evenly around.

Soho Square

We left after one and walked up to Soho Square, the hub of the complex; dancing fountains and music ice rink, bazaar etc. etc.  Of course there has to be a bar called “the Queen Vic” with the mandatory English menu!  We found a small “cafe” and indulged in an Egyptian kebab and Lebanese spicy cheese salad washed down with the local beer.  Good choice.

The long day caught up with us and we returned to take a nightcap in our room. Discover that there is a “pillow menu” offering six different styles and fillings. Settled for what was already on the bed!

Friday morning and we looked out over the bay with the sun shining – intermittently it must be said – and the temperature a pleasant 24⁰. Breakfast was as good as one would expect.  In this part of the world it best to avoid bacon and sausages! Fresh dates, figs, oranges, all the eggs cooked while you wait and lots of those nice little pastries…yum!

The pools

We wandered past the pools and down to the beach and then back up to book our table for the New Years Eve Dinner.  It’s split up so that you can be at home in a Tux or with the kids in casual. We were in the Egypt Hall; all adults in DJs.

Josephine booked her wash and blow dry for the next day and I had a manicure. There was a bookies widow called Elaine from Glasgow having a pedicure and her first question was “Are you a Celtic or a Rangers supporter”.  Oh well, nothing much changes. We exchanged life stories whilst the girls worked away at our nether bits.

Would you believe it we are sitting next to the pool having a burger and a beer and it has started raining.  Well a couple of small spots.  They put the electric awning over the tables so no problem!

It's this big - Honest

Saturday, New Years Eve and all’s well. We spent a lazy day doing not a lot. Lunch at the Seafood Island restaurant and the rest of the afternoon on the beach couture watching. Then back to get Josephine to the hairdressers ready for the evening’s festivities.

The New Year party was a great success.  To serve a buffet to 450 without having to queue  takes a bit of organising! The star cabaret act was the Chinese circus with Egyptian dancers being a close second. New Year was heralded in for the Russians at 10.00 and for the rest of us with a Brazilian combo at midnight local. The Disco proved too much and we bailed out about 1am.


They were serving breakfast until 3pm so we did not hurry and spent the day on the beach. We had booked the Teppanyaki for dinner and shared it with a Dutch couple and a Russian woman with her young daughter; later joined by an intensely English guy from Sussex with his American wife and with whom we were finally asked to leave so that they could start the second sitting. We decamped into the bar for another bottle of wine and to put the world to rights: as one does.

Finally got round to snorkelling along the reef on Monday: stunning corals and fish.  No underwater camera unfortunately: will have to get one of those waterproof cases for the compact. Life on the beach nearly as interesting.

We spent the evening in Soho Square.  There is food hall with various outlets and a cabaret.  Unfortunately neither the food or the cabaret lived up to expectations, still it was an inexpensive way of making a mistake! We went back into the main square and indulged in an Irish and Mexican coffee, which were as good as one gets, and enjoyed the girl band.

Sun worship

Tuesday and it is back to the beach people watching.  A bit windier today and only 22⁰! Just finished my second book of the holiday, Cold Comfort Farm, a real scream if you like parodies. The first was Evelyn Waugh’s “Handful of Dust”: I’m getting very literary!!


In fact the rest of the holiday was spent not doing a lot and soaking up as much sun as possible.  As the News of the World used to advertise “All Human Life is Here” and there was an amazing cross section of it at the beach and around the pools hailing from Ukraine to Yorkshire and Baltimore to Bangor.  Quite mesmerising in a number of ways.

There are a number of shots of the male form but it is sad to relate that they were in no way able to compete, either in number or esoteric form,  with the ladies. They did prove interesting though.

All too quickly it was over

Our taxi was booked for 5am Thursday morning but, in typical Egyptian fashion, it did not appear and my attempts at nonchalant indifference finally left me at 6 when the Desk was unable to raise any cab at all.  We ended up being taken to the main road in a buggy and the ever efficient Security Guard network finally trapped one.  Shouldn’t have worried we ended up in the check in queue three behind a couple who had been bundled into a coach at 4.30!

We will be back!

Sharm el Sheikh Nov 09

If you want to miss all the following blurb and just see the photos please click here.

After an uneventful drive to Dublin and a very early start (4.45a.m.) We arrived at Sharm airport around 4pm local. Usual eastern bureaucracy.  Fill in entry form – go to passport control – told we have filled in wrong form – fill in correct form – go to passport control – stamps form and visa page without reading either!  

The Hilton Waterfalls Hotel only about 20 mins from airport as we had a minibus to ourselves.  The hotel is fine although Josephine commented that the reception clerk could have done with a clean shirt.  Nothing wrong with the service or the room.  Our balcony exits onto the heated winter pool!  Usual start, shower – unpack.   Went down to dinner, buffet is typical middle eastern.  Large selection of salads, main courses fine  and sweets out of this world if you like baklava or rice pudding for example.  Wine mediocre but it’s free and drinkable.  We have adopted two waiters so glasses never empty!!  There is a “hubble bubble” bar which looks down to the beach, quite impressive with the lights on at night.

The one thing that is immediately apparent is that the hotel is occupied mainly by Russians who have some quite stunning WAGS. On the whole they do not seem the most communicative of people but as my russian consist of da, nyet and guhor this is probably not surprising!

Friday our first day – breakfast spread pretty impressive, but as all ME hotels it is not a good idea to try the bacon and sausage! Josephine discovers that, having forgotten to put on the insect repellant on the plane she has, as usal, been badly bitten.

Made contact with Dave and Connie, last met in Agadir 6 years ago, and booked to go to St Catherine’s Monastery on Saturday (£35 a head including lunch) then off down the hill to the “beach”. We decided to bypass the aerobics class and headed out onto the pontoon where we duly became the adopted parents of the lifeguard, “Luka” who proceeded to lend me a set of fins, mask and snorkel for the week. Lunch in the Lebanese pool bar. More of the same in the afternoon and back up for dinner.  There is a “cabaret” at 10 each evening but nothing to get really excited about.  Passes an hour.

Saturday Up at 5.45 to get the bus.  Collected a truly international group, 3 Russians, 2 Swiss, 2 English and 2 Portugese Linda and Clara. Luckily everybody but the Russian spoke english so our guide only had to translate once. 

 I don’t know if it was on purpose but, the dog unit of the tourist police is named K9 and they have this in huge gold letters on their uniform.  Egyptian police are not photo friendly so no backup pictures.

Sinai Desert, not a place to breakdown

The drive to St Catherine’s is about 2.5 hours through the desert.  Not a desert as I had imagined, this was stark hills with the odd sandy wadi.  Also amazed to see a sanger with a heavy machine gun mounted on the roof sited, apparently, in the middle of nowhere. 

Follow the link for full details of the monastery, it is too complex to write up here but suffice to say the ecclesiastical library and icon collection alone would have made the journey  worthwhile.  Sure, if it was good enough for Moses it’s good enough for me!

We set off back via the inevitable “factory shop” visit;  if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all!  The next stop was for lunch at Dahab a coastal town which claims to have a beach suitable for swimming.  Not for me it doesn’t! Still the food wasn’t bad and it broke up the journey.

Joined a party of Poles for dinner at the hotel.  One was a banker who had worked in Milan for 4 years so made for an interesting evening.  Needless to say there was no language problems with them.

Sunday we met up with Dave and Connie, he is a theatre consultant originally from East Belfast and she a nurse from Sligo, and went for a meal in the old city.  This is like the new city but older!  Had forgotten that you can’t buy beer in public outside the hotels, the odd bar being the exception but then the prices are ludicrous!

Monday I persuaded Josephine to try the “sea spi” a sort of  electrically controlled raft with viewing ports to watch the reef.  Great success, though half an hour with the sun on ones back is plenty. We encountered our one and only topless sunbather that day – Danish obviously!

The rest of the week took much the same pattern and was a great way to recharge for the next month or so of Irish weather.

If you’ve nothing better to do it’s a great holiday.

As a bonus for getting this far click here to see all the photos.