A few weeks ago we got back from the Easter holiday that nearly didn't happen. We had booked two weeks in Egypt a while ago. Soon after, Egypt became a bit more exciting than the average family of tourists is comfortable with and we were on the brink of cancelling.
By March, however, Mubarak had been successfully removed from office and our flight was to Sharm el Sheik anyway - far away from political upheaval. We swiftly decided to stay clear of Cairo and the obvious trouble spots and indulge in a fortnight of diving, snorkelling and generall chilling out. Who wouldn't after this winter?!
The guide books informed us that Sharm itself was quite a lively tourist spot - something we didn't find quite so 'sharming'. Bernie, my genious husband, discovered the much quieter ex-hippy resort of Dahab one hour North on the Red Sea coast and we all agreed that this sounded more like it: excellent diving and snorkelling, reportedly very laid back and more geared towards individual travellers.
Now that we're back, I still can't quite believe I haven't dreamt this holiday. We arrived in Dahab in the middle of the night and were shown into a beautiful appartment. Tim, the owner, had left the fridge stocked and a hot roast chicken was sitting on the kitchen counter waiting for us. So our holiday started with a midnight feast on the balmy roof terrace, lounging on the Arabian cushions under a palm frond canopy listening to the last call of the muezzin and the closeby surf rolling gently against the pebbles. You get the general idea.
The next morning, we woke up to the cries of the next door cockerel and the bleating of the goats in the street. We were 20 meters away from the beach and 2 minutes from the village town square. Not the tourist part either, but the Bedouin village where shopping was not conducted in English and not haggling was considered bad manners.
Nick soon became very friendly with the baker across the street because he had the best and cheapest sweet breakfast rolls and a pound of freshly baked sweet biscuists cost only a pound. Guess how he invested his pocket money.
Tim, our host, is a seasoned expat-dive master who is so laid-back he makes the Great Lebowski look frantic. He signs his emails with 'Peace to the Reef!' and organised the most magical individual dive trips for us (- me just snorkelling. I'm a low-tech kind of girl.)
I will keep the rhapsodising short, but the Red Sea has the most northerly coral reef in the world and it is stunning. Even as a snorkeller, you see so many polychromatic fish and coral right by the coast that it feels like swimming in the tropical section of a very well stocked aquarium. Right at the beginning of my first foray into the water on day one I came across a massive Lionfish. I squeeked so enthusiastically that I nearly lost my snorkel! Within 5 minutes I had spotted 4 more and the excitement subsided a little. But honestly, imagine swimming with Nemo. It was as colourful as any Pixar-animated underwater fantasy. The boys even saw a ray eventually. Luckily no sharks!
On the non diving days, we just ambled along the coast, picked a shady beach cafe and spent the entire day reading, lounging, playing cards and dipping into the sea when we got too hot. It took us exactly one day to completely unwind and on day three of the holiday I had already lost track of what day of the week it was. It was later explained to me that that was the Dahab-Effect. The place just oozes relaxation and happiness.
Normally, after about 10 days, I begin to look forward to home a bit, but not this time. Fortunately, some benign fate smiled on us again and so we arrived back to a SUNNY Scotland. Unbelievable.
So that was Egypt. Enjoy some of the photos. Oh, and before I forget: Nicky had a new plan for the future: he wants to open Scotlands first camel safari center. Lol!