Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dahab, Sinai

By Claire
Chuck called to me to come and see the sunrise over Lake Nasser. We will miss this wonderful Nubian hotel in Abu Simbel.

We watched it from our balcony then went in for breakfast. Our taxi was arriving at 8 am so we made quick work of getting our things together for the final leg of our journey through Egypt.

We arrived at Penguin Village in Dahab at 5:30 pm after taking 3 planes and driving for a little more than an hour. When we arrived at the airport, there was no sign of our driver. We stood around for a bit and then I just walked over to the big line of other drivers with signs and called out "Penguin Village?" a couple of times. One guy spoke up and asked who my travel agent was. I told him I had made the reservation myself. He offered to call for me, got in touch with our hotel and found out that the driver was at the wrong terminal. It was really refreshing to have someone offer to help and not expect anything in return.

We were glad to finally be here on the Red Sea! It’s really the Gulf of Aqaba but it’s all the same water. We can see Saudi Arabia from our room! If you look at the map, Dahab is on the lower right area of Sinai.

Dahab on the Gulf of Aqaba

It’s warm but there is a haze in the distance. We’ve seen this all over Egypt and we’re not sure whether it’s a weather thing or just an extension of the horrible pollution we saw in Cairo. In fact, flying over Cairo on our way in was rather horrifying. There is a heavy brown layer that just hangs there and all the buildings look like they are covered in dust—the kind you find in your vacuum cleaner bag.

We settled into our room with balcony, discovering that there is not a single hook to hang our towels, nor is there any soap. We asked at the desk on our way to dinner but were told they do not provide soap. Well that’s different. At least we have a giant bottle of dish soap we brought to do our laundry. Soap is soap, right? We need to use it up anyway before we fly back to Istanbul. None of the airports we have been in in Egypt have checked for liquids but we’re pretty certain they will when we fly internationally back to Turkey.

We had dinner at the Penguin Village restaurant. It was fun, with cushions and rugs everywhere right on the water. They had it lit up and we could see the turquoise water and the rocks below. The water is very clear.

Penguin Village Restaurant

Red Sea at night

There is also a rooftop terrace to watch the stars, smoke Sheesha and hang out. We skipped that but had our breakfast up there this morning.

After we ordered dinner, the server brought us a windex bottle full of water, explaining that it was to keep the cats away. I felt bad for the cats until it became quite a battle to eat our dinner and fend them off. One of them even got a piece of salad off of Chuck’s plate. The food was great, the music was just a suggestion, and we really got into relax mode.

After dinner we wandered around for awhile looking at all the shops. However, one is much like the next and it’s all touristy souvenir stuff that we could probably pick up at Cost Plus.

We were both tired so came back to read in bed for awhile. The bed is good—we’ve slept on some doozies—and the pillows are even ok. In several of the places we’ve stayed the pillows feel like bags of cement.

This morning we had banana pancakes, fried egg and cheese toast along with cheese, tomatoes and tea. It was a really nice, substantial breakfast and is included in the price of our room (€25).

Our balcony room--second from the right.

On our way to breakfast we mentioned the lack of cushions for our balcony chairs and the need for a place to hang our towels. They took our key and told us it would be taken care of. When we returned to get our key, the guy was in our room and I guess someone went to get him so we could have our key. What we found were two enormous cushions, much too large for the chairs, no promised over-the-door towel holder and our sheets neatly folded on the bed! OK, no soap and now we have to put our own sheets on? We decided to just get it over with and had just finished when the guy returned. I think we had interrupted him and we did the work for nothing. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

We walked the promenade all along the water and found many “pillow” style restaurants and lots of shops and beach spots.

The sea is cool and probably refreshing although all the divers have wet suits on. I believe the sea is named after some kind of red plant but it should be because of the sand—it’s definitely red.

Meanwhile, we are astonished at how mountainous it is here. I guess I expected more of the usual desert with lots of sand. We plan to do some exploring while we are here for the next 10 days.

Because we focused on the snake, we missed the scorpion. ~ Egyptian Proverb


Paros Shepherd said...

I love all the pillows! I see Chuck in a proper chair, but it looks like you mostly sit on the ground level? Hope you find proper bath soap someplace...using kitchen soap seems wrong somehow...except so does the name "Penguin Village" next to the Aquba Sea! Hope to read why it is called that.
I just read their site and found this: "Our reputation has been built on quality of service and our clients memorable experiences
So are you going to take this risk?" RISK? Ha, ha. Anxious to read further accounts about your stay!
The sea is so clear , will you go diving? I think your "risk" will be quite wonderful! Waiting to hear the rest...
Karin from Paros in Prague
(where it is STILL snowing!)

matbergman said...

Spray bottles to keep away the cats! A detail I could never have imagined. I am so impressed and amazed by your experience.