On Tuesday afternoon we embarked on our journey to Dahab. First, we had to take a bus downtown, then after a quick dinner of koshari, we headed to the bus station to leave for Dahab
! In actuality, Dahab can be only 6 hours away (by car), but on a large bus it takes about 10 hours because of the various checkpoints on the Sinai and of course smoke breaks for the Egyptians on the bus. The ride was not bad at all, mostly because we had a hilarious group which kept cracking jokes late into the night/early into the morning. We arrived at the Dahab bus station right before sunrise and took truck/taxis to our hot(s)tel. The drivers chucked our stuff in the back of the truck, where we sat on top of it and enjoyed the ride to the hotel. We stayed in the quaint Penguin Village, but due to a little confusion with our booking, our room was not ready yet, so we hung out on the top deck of the Penguin Restaurant. Restaurants in Dahab not only taste great, but nearly all of them open to the Red Sea and have an upstairs area where you can sit and get a good tan. Instead of chairs, most of these restaurants feature cushioned seating, which is extremely laid-back and relaxing. For breakfast I tried the Dahab's infamous Banana Pancakes (and why yes, I did listen to the Jack Johnson song while I ate them); the pancakes were more like crapes, served with honey, but they were still delicious (and so was the coffee I got with them). After breakfast we walked down the boardwalk and did a bit of shopping then swam in the Red Sea! The Red Sea is so beautiful, and the water feels great. When in the water, I hardly had to paddle because the water keeps you afloat. However, after swimming in the Red Sea, a gallon of water should be waiting on the beach because the high salt content in the water can really be draining
. We returned to Penguin where we napped for a bit on the roof while getting a sun tan; the breeze made the temperature perfect, not unbearable like it sometimes is at other beaches. Around dusk, my friend Ellen and I decided to go horseback riding on the beach. We followed a guide who took us to the sandy beach called the lagoon and we cantered through the sand as the sun was setting. Watching the sun set over the mountains of Sinai with the water beside me and my hair blowing in the wind was a serious highlight of my life. At that moment I felt bliss and wanted to press life's pause button for just a little bit longer (oh wait, there is no pause button on life.. ). Ellen and I returned back to the room where we got ready for a night out on the town/beach. Before heading to our wonderful dinner, where I had chicken curry, we sat on the roof and watched the stars come out while smoking a little sheesha. The stars in Dahab are amazing; due to the lack of light pollution, there seems to be millions of stars. Sometimes when we were walking down the boardwalk we would literally just stop and stare at the sky for a few minutes because the stars were so spectacular. After dinner (and this is how it was every night), we hit up either a sheesha joint or a bar, then went to a club (the club this night was a rooftop club which was hoppin'), then went to another sheesha place until the sun was about to rise. Honestly, I do not think people in Dahab could get anything done without their sheesha.
After sleeping very little, we got up and went to get breakfast then laid around getting tan until it was time to go snorkeling. We went to Blue Hole which is a sink hole in the Red Sea, but a ton of coral and fish surround the edge (and further down if you dive). We rode to Blue Hole in a 4x4 Jeep, which was a very fun ride on an unpaved road off the beaten path
. After grabbing our gear, we headed out to the sea to see the fish. While I have never been snorkeling before, I imagine that Blue Hole is comparable to most other places. I was surrounded by Nemos and Dorey (clown fish and tang fish for those of you that have not seen the movie). We also went out right before sunset when all of the coral started to come to life. I even saw tons of lion fish, which are apparently kind of dangerous but still really, really cool. The water was so blue, and so clear, I never wanted to leave, but alas at sunset we packed up our gear and headed back. An incredible note on sunsets in Dahab. Dahab is only 20 miles from the coast of Saudi Arabia, so when you look out over the Gulf of Aqaba you see not only the Red Sea, but the gorgeous mountains of Saudi, which are stunning especially at sunset and sunrise. That night, we did the usual bar/club/sheesha thing, but we headed back to the Penguin roof to watch the sun rise. Around 5:30 am, the sun rose over the Saudi mountains and light spilled onto the Red Sea which just sparkled with the touch of the sun. Like when I was horseback riding along the beach, I just wanted to pause time here for a bit longer.
Our last full day at Dahab, we committed to exploring the town a bit more and of course, doing some shopping. We found a couple of really quaint shops, one where I bought a silver bracelet
. During the day, we mostly just relaxed and enjoyed the day, walking up and down the boardwalk. The afternoon we went to Funny Mummy (a really popular restaurant featured in Lonely Planet) and ordered some juice and sheesha while we reconnected to civilization via free wi-fi. We started the night by walking down the boardwalk looking for dinner, then remembered that we were going to get henna! We stopped at a place we had seen before where we knew the guy and he gave us a really good deal on henna tattoos-- for those of you that are not aware, henna washes off in about a week or two. My henna was a really neat design across my foot, which then required me to walk around barefoot for 2 hours (all through dinner). Luckily, I was not alone because my friend Cassie had to do the same; together we looked like we were one shoed crazies, but instead of hassling us, the vendors just complemented us on our "socks" aka henna tattoos. After dinner the same nightly shenanigans went down, and I am pretty sure in involved even more sheesha this time.
The next morning we woke up early to grab breakfast at a wonderful Bedouin restaurant before we headed back to our private bus to take us back into Cairo. Breakfast was scrumptious, per usual, and we were all in a state of depression as we headed back to the bus. We were able to get our own micro bus for the ride back which only took 7 hours instead of 10 for just a few LE more
. The ride back was pretty uneventful, other than random bouts of laughter when we remembered inside jokes from the weekend. We got back into town around sunset and ended our trip with a journey to the Zamalek McDonalds, then the three of us that lived on campus went and grabbed some sheesha before catching our bus back to campus. Lately, I have found myself classifying things into three categories: before Dahab, Dahab, and after Dahab. I cannot wait to return to Dahab when my dear friend Alice visits this December (when we will trek Mt. Sinai) because the wonderful atmosphere and beauty which surrounds this amazing place. Dahab is one of those places you HAVE to visit in your lifetime, and I am glad to have been able to visit such a fantastic place with such amazing friends.
Dahab. To describe Dahab I would use all positive adjectives including: amazing, perfect, relaxing, gorgeous, cheap, wonderful, and did I mention AMAZING? To start off, there was a holiday last week for Egypt's Armed Forces Day, so because we have Tuesdays off, some friends and I decided to make a trip to the Sinai city of Dahab. My friend Amanda and I went downtown on Monday to get our bus tickets for the trip, then continued to explore Cairo. I had yet to just explore Cairo and wander around the city; not surprisingly, it was very entertaining. We were able to try fruit cocktail for 2 LE along with some other yummy street food, and some ice cream. I also bought a pair of sandals in Cairo for 15 LE! They are cute, but I am honestly surprised they have lasted this long.