30 January 2006

Egypt Days 1-4: First Impressions and Sunshine in January!

Day 1: Minutes before we get through our departure gate I decide to call Andy Regent, the guy who's looking after all my computers while I'm away. I just wanted to tell him our internet router died last night, probably due to overheating. He tells me all the systems are knacked and he can't make head nor tail of it – There's the boarding call I've got 2 minutes max to fix it! Lucking the words of advice I gave to Andy meant he was able to fix it, although I only found this out after calling him 5.5 hours later as we landed in Taba. I was a bit concerned during the flight as my lovely new phone, Sony Ericsson W800i (Walkman branded) has a option to turn the 2gb mp3 player on without the phone so I can use it on the plane. Of course to the unenlightened it will look like I'm playing with a mobile phone :-( Fortunately nobody noticed it as I kept it stuffed in my trouser pocket.

The first thing you may notice from my gallery of the holiday is that there is only one shaky photo outside Taba airport which is quite unusual for snapaholic me. The reason for that is, possibly to it's location on the top of a 1,000 foot high cliff, Taba is a military airport. Very unusual experience to say the least. Next up we find out we have a security guard on the coach and all 11 coaches travel in a convoy down the mountain. Are we really at risk? From later experiences it all seems to be a custom set up after the political bombings in the early '90s in Cairo and the convoy thing seems to be due to the shocking state of the roads as we descend 1,000 feet at night. As we arrived at Taba Heights (the large complex that has five major hotels) we come to a security check point who actually uses a mirror to check underneath the vehicle. Our Egyptian rep explains that this check point and then another one at the entrance to each hotel is in response to the attacks last year in Sharm el Sheik *and* London – cleverly phrased.

Okay we now have our first disaster. Somebody, possibly me, forgot to pick up the red bag from above our heads on the transfer coach and it has now sped off into the night. It had a couple of hundred pounds worth of electronics in it but no essential data (as it was my razor and our toothbrushes we lost). We tried to explain it to the guy at reception but he just did not seem to care – he even ignored us for five minutes by asking us to wait away from the desk as he answered phone calls. Deep breath. It seems my understanding of Egyptian customs are lacking to say the least. While looking like he was deliberately ignoring us Walid had actually contacted to next hotel who had contacted the driver and when he's finished his run he'll bring it back to the Sofitel (our 5* hotel). Walid even phoned later and offered to deliver it in person to the room – excellent service.

Dinner time and the restaurant is amazing, the whole hotel oozes class and grandiose designs. I think this week we'll be drinking Sakara Gold, the best Egyptian beer apparently. Strange though as the country is over 70% Muslim...

Day 2: The view from the balcony is amazing. Standing on Egyptian soil (well sand) I can see both Jordan (left) and Saudi Arabia (right) directly in front of me across the Red Sea. It gets better, the sky is completely blue, the sunshine is radiant and the temperature is over 20°ree;C. We are both putting all are trust in P20, it claims to only block UVA and allow the UVB through to give you a safe tan ... let's see if it's worth £20.

Day 3: Very lovely sunny day. Probably spent too long in the Sun as my back was a rather fruity shade of red. Fowler has rejoined Liverpool :-) Maybe Rafa was impressed by his five fingered salute or maybe Rafa reads my site and thought I was right... This is the second Liverpool related story I've posted and both have come true. Okay here goes, Liverpool will finish the season above Man Utd in second place. Now we have three more months of waiting...

Day 4: Cloudy all day. We ''sun bathed" with T-shirts on and towels over our legs. In light of yesterday's overdose it probably not such a bad thing.