Saturday, April 2, 2016

Sharm El Sheikh: Don't let the news cancel a vacation

Our latest adventure took us to Sharm El Sheikh where we did some of the best scuba diving we've ever done in the Red Sea. Now, I know what you're thinking:
"Wait, isn't Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt?"
"Isn't Egypt dangerous right now?"
" Oh my god, they went to Egypt?!"

I assure you, except for the utter chaos that is Cairo International Airport, there was absolutely nothing to worry about. Sharm El Sheikh is a resort town on the water with large-scale luxury hotels and lots and lots of diving. The Red Sea is well known for some of the best scuba diving in the world and Sharm El Sheikh has built a thriving tourist business on that claim.

Or at least they had. The place was deserted which was so heartbreaking. Beautiful luxury resorts empty and many of them closed due to the press Egypt has been getting. All European carriers have cancelled all flights in and out of Egypt from Dec until Mar.

Don't misunderstand. I fully appreciate the need to be cautious and careful and don't doubt that those airlines and travel companies carefully considered their decisions. It's just sad to see such a lovely place turn into a ghost town. The benefit to us was very personalized attention and rock bottom prices.

Arrival was an adventure as always. Upon disembarking in Cairo, we waited for over an hour for our bags to arrive amidst chaos akin to Wal-Mart on Black Friday. We then had a connecting flight to Sharm El Sheikh which the ticket said was in Terminal 3 (we were in Terminal 1). No problem, I'll just ask helpful airport staff dude where to go to find Terminal 1. He proceeds to lead us out to the taxi stand. What?! Yep, sure enough, the terminals are not connected and a good 10 minute car ride away. We ended up paying almost $40 for the trip (total tourist rip off), but we were getting close to missing our connection so paid the fare.

We checked in on Egyptair and were told to hurry as we were running late. We did hurry only to find out the plane had been delayed. An hour and a Miranda orange soda, courtesy of Egyptair, later and we were off to Sharm El Sheikh.

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency, which is a huge beautiful resort when full and a nice but spookily quiet resort when you're two of about 50 there.

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