By Sylvie, Schleihthal, France

In March, I spent a week in Hurghada, Egypt, with my family. To experience better weather than at home, one only has to fly for four hours to enjoy temperatures between 26° to 30°C. It is usually windy during this time of the year and it’s a little fresh, so wearing a light jacket or coat is necessary in the evening. But every day was clear and sunny.  

While Egypt is thousands of years old, Hurghada is “only” 90 years old.

We stayed in a very big hotel. We were very satisfied with it, but I think the rooms and the bathrooms needed some renovation. This hotel was so big that we needed 10 minutes to walk from the beach restaurant to the main restaurant. The hotel also had a private beach where we could go snorkelling and observe different marine life.

Every day we could choose from a large selection of restaurants. The main restaurant serves international cuisine. There are also specialist restaurants such as Asian (Indian, Chinese), Moroccan, Fish, and snack bars.

The typical Egyptian fare included traditional bread and uniquely prepared vegetables. There was also a lot of lamb, beef and chicken.

In the bars, we could drink whatever we wanted; everything was included. We learned that if we gave the bartenders a tip, the drinks became less watery. Although the service was very good, it became even better with a tip.  

The rooms were very clean. Staff (only men) cleaned everything, all the time. Most of the guests came from Germany, some from France, and some from Russia.

During the day, we could engage in sports like volleyball among many other activities. In the evening, you have some entertainment with dancing, singing, some spectacular street fires, or the election of the Miss Hotel, Miss Bikini, and so on. 

During our stay, the guide from our travel agency offered us a selection of excursions. We chose Luxor by bus. Going by bus to Cairo, although possible, was too far.

We left at four o’clock in the morning because we had to pick up other people from other hotels. But it was nice to see the sunrise from the bus. During this drive, we caught a glimpse of Egyptian reality. People travel on donkeys because 80% of the population lives in rural areas. They sell their produce on the side of the roads. It was unusual to see men carrying rifles on their shoulders. Not something we see back at home.

We visited different places in Luxor. We visited Karnak, the biggest and most important temple. It is around 200 m long. There are the sphinxes at the entrance to symbolise the power these pharaohs had. We also went to Hatshepsut. But the real problem with these places are the masses of tourists. Even when we managed to go explore by ourselves, we were accosted by people wanting to take pictures with us, for us, against a “small fee.” 

We crossed the Nile River on a very small, old boat. The crossing was more diagonally; therefore, it took 30 minutes. For me, the river is synonymous with crocodiles, but none appeared. Otherwise, it was quiet and peaceful. Unfortunately, the sensation of crossing this important river was reduced, because I didn’t feel particularly safe. Our bus was waiting for us on the opposite bank.

Speaking of driving: I don’t recommend hiring a car because nobody respects traffic rules. It almost seems as if they don’t have any at all. It’s a free-for-all, therefore one doesn’t feel that safe.

Our guide recommended not to speak to vendors. Also, he strongly advised not to give your phone to a vendor or even a policeman to take a photo. They would only return it to you in exchange of a tip. My daughter found it difficult to follow this advice. They greeted us, and naturally, she wanted to be polite. They immediately followed us, and she felt sorry for them. Even our transfer back to the airport was not problem-free. The driver deliberately dropped us off at the wrong area, and we were forced to take a taxi to the right part of the airport. It was a rip-off, but impossible to avoid. Even though the amounts we paid were small, they are significant for the locals. It was here that my daughter also understood the situation.

We went on a quad tour which lasted two hours. There was an extra option to go on a ride with a camel. It lasted all of 5 minutes, and the camel guide was very happy to receive tips. Sitting on a camel is comfortable, but you sit very high. But the five minutes pass very quickly and there is no long-lasting impression. But driving through the desert on a quad was impressive. It felt free, it was easy to drive because you only accelerate or brake, and there are no gears.

All in all, the holiday was an experience, which I can recommend and one day we might return there.

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