Countdown to 2011..26 Dec to 2 Jan 2011

Trip Start Sep 09, 2010
Trip End May 28, 2011

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Where I stayed
Ali Baba Palace Hurghada
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of Egypt  , Al Baḩr al Aḩmar,
Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sunday 26th December

I am full of cold and stay in bed all day! Alaa makes me a lovely hot lemon drink which helps soothe the throat. At times it feels like I am chewing on glass as I cough and swallow. Turns out that his mum also has a really bad cold...and our friend Christina, who is back in the UK, and whose flat we are renting in Luxor has also been in bed for the last few days, seems that getting a cold has no international borders, thankfully it is not swine flu which appears to have reared its ugly head again.

Monday 27th December

Another day in bed. My friend Chris from Australia calls me. I have known him now for 20 years...I met him when I did my 6-months working holiday out there back in 1991...where have the years gone? Alaa makes me another hot lemon drink this time with honey. It is delicious I could drink a bucket load of the stuff.

Tuesday 27th December 2010

There is a dog that we think is the only guest in a disused hotel at the bottom of the street where we are staying. He howls every night for what seems an eternity. He is driving me mad. The hot water is not working, we boil water and wash the old fashioned way. Just heard that there has been a bus crash in Aswan which was taking tourists to Abel Simbel. It has killed 8 America tourists. I had planned to visit. Its one of the onlytemples left in Egypt that I have not yet visited, not sure if we will go now or not. Aparently the road from Aswan to Abel Simbel is notoriously dangerous as it is only open certain hours of the day and that'swhen everyone has to travel in convoy. The car we are using has a puncture. Better now that on the way to Hurghada.

Wednesday 29th December 2010

The cold is getting better thankfully so should be ok for New Years Eve. There is a sand storm and we actually had a few spots of rain...this is a major event in Luxor which hardly ever sees rain. I hope though that this isn't a sign that the weather is getting worse. I just want it to be reasonably hot and sunny for NYE and my birthday.  Today we are up and dressed by 3pm, when you have no deadlines to work to, no job and no real plans, its easy to just spend your whole life sleeping and in bed! What a luxury and probably the only time in my life that I will ever have the opportunity to be this lazy?

Thursday 30th December 2010

The hot water and shower is still not working properly, but we call a man who comes later and fixes it until then we still have to use the old fashioned way of boiling water and using a bowl and jug...but it is actually quite effective and at least we are clean! Alaa overheard some guy saying it rained in Hurghada  a few days ago and the desert road between there and Luxor was made inpassable and parts of it were closed. Luckily it has now re-opened. An early start tomorrow we are not sure what time we can check-in to the hotel, but may as well try and make use of the all-inclusive facilities.

Friday 31st December 2010

We get up around 7am and are on the road by 8.30am. We take it steady as there is no real hurry so hope to do it in around 4 hours it is 270km away. The roads are busy up until just passed Qena which is a big city an hour from Luxor. Then we approach the desert road which takes us through a landscape of rocky mountains and not much else. The roads are quiet as we think most people think it is still closed. There are stretches which are covered in water and sand, leaving little tarmac visible.  I can well imagine how difficult it would have been to drive in those windy and sandy conditions a few days ago. We are very lucky that has not happened today.

We find the hotel, Ali Ba Ba Palace, without too much trouble. It on the outskirts about half an hour from Hurghada centre. We arrive just after midday and check in to our rooms at 2pm. As Alaa is Egyptian, we have to pay an extra surcharge, almost a third of what we have already paid. The prices that I got via the internet apparently only apply to Europeans. Locals have to pay the full rate - oh well its only money. I was just relieved that he could stay as from the looks of the hotel he is the only Egyptian guest...all the others are staff. But we have a special contract that says I am Alaa's Egyptian wife which means we can stay together in hotels and apartments. This is because Egypt is a pretty strict Muslim country and without it we would be breaking the law. We have to show this wherever we go.

We get an option of rooms. One with single twin beds and view of the pool, or one with a King sized bed without a view...I think you can guess which one we choose. We ended up with a pool view anyway. The room is large, has a nice sized bathroom and a hairdryer. Always a good sign. We have a small patio area outside the room, which is on the ground floor, where we can sit and chill out. We are close to the pool and main lobby area. I check my phone there is a message from Jay. Disaster....they have missed their plane. Don't ask how but just blame it on the SatNav. They got to the check-in desk about 10 mins before the flight was to depart. There were no other flights going direct to Hurghada from Birmingham until next the end they had to go via Brussels..Business Class, then to Cairo and then Hurghada. Three flights and would probably miss NYE. I couldn't believe it but at least they were still coming. As my lovely brother had to pay again for the flights...and it wasn't cheap, many would have decided not to come, but they are still coming.

I had a feeling I would get drunk. It all started when Alaa when to get us some drinks from the pool side bar. He asked for 2 stella beers...the local brew in Egypt. He was told that he had to pay...but this is an all inclusive hotel. He came back with two neat vodkas...I had a small bottle of champagne I was saving for my birthday, but decided to use it as a mixer....I then went up to the bar and just asked for two beers, and got 2 straight from the bar on appears the free stuff is an unnamed beer, the others come at a cost.  So Alaa drinks the beer, I end up with double vodka and champers and a beer too....Mixing is never a good idea especially when you start at 3pm!

As we booked for NYE, included in the price was entrance to a dinner dance being held in a huge marquee on the grounds of the hotel. I booked for 5...hoping that Jay et al might make it in time to see in the New Year. Drinks were being served in the lobby at 7pm and dinner from 7.30pm.  I started on beer, then swapped to G&T...and finally I think what pushed me over the edge was the sparkly stuff we ordered to celebrate the New Year. We had a good time though, the food was nice, we sat next to a friendly dutch couple (I think we were the only non-Russians there) and there was lots of entertainment. But unfortunately I did end up a bit worse for wear and after the stroke of midnight was taken back to my room by Alaa and fell asleep.

Jay, Claire and Ellie arrived at the hotel at about 12.15 - they were in the airport collecting their luggage has the clock stuck 12. Such a shame but at least they made it.  Alaa went and collected them from reception. They came to our room and we finished off the bottle of sparkly. Then Alaa took them to their room which was a few blocks away. I passed out on our lovely king sized bed. Alaa got lost trying to find our room again but eventually returned.

Saturday 1st January 2011

Welcome to 2011 I feel a bit rough today. We meet Jay in the reception as our holiday rep was there to talk about any trips we might want to go on. I had seen this day trip into the desert that included quad biking, camel rides, tour of a bedouin village, traditional dancing etc which I thought sounded like fun and something we could do on my birthday. It was also something that is suitable for children too. It would cost 30 each, 15 for Ellie so not too expensive either. We will book it tomorrow. 

It is Alaa's birthday today - he is 27...they don't appear to celebrate things like birthday's in Egypt so we spend the day by the pool chilaxing but to be honest I really don't feel too well. We missed breakfast as we got up late and it is only served  up to 11am but there are snacks by the pool so we have a hot dog, chips and a beer....probably not a good idea on a dodgy stomach, needless to say the toilet and I became good friends

The pool area is nice, but the water is chilly, it is supposed to be heated but isn't very warm. We wonder down to the beach area, the sea actually feels warmer. Tomorrow if the weather is good we will go swimming. We go for dinner and have a few drinks. But I really don't feel well at all, I have been terrible company for Alaa on this birthday. At about 9pm Alaa takes me back to the room and I am sick....not nice I know but I actually feel much better. Although not good enough to want to go clubbing. Alaa goes back out and he and Jay spend the night in the hotel disco until 2am.  

Sunday 2nd January 2011

Alaa and I miss another breakfast so its hot dog and chips by the pool. My stomach feels much better and I can actually eat without running to the toilet straight afterwards...but Alaa now has a dodgy stomach, maybe it is something we ate on NYE?  We meet up with Jay, Claire and El and go down to the beach. When we first jumped in it was pretty cold but you got used to it and it was actually nice and refreshing, and very salty. I was looking out for sharks...thankfully non in Hurghada. We have dinner and then spend a couple of hours at the marina. Alaa and I stayed in central Hurghada back in April and spent most evenings at the marina, there are lots of nice bars and restaurants and of course luxury yachts to admire.

I go online to find out more about an apparent bombing in Alexandria, it happened on 1st Jan at a Coptic/christian church and killed 21 people.  That's where I am going to do my in the last few weeks a person has been eaten by a shark, 8 people killed in a bus crash and now people blown up by bombs - all in Egypt. Well they say things come in 3s so hopefully that is it for a while, but slightly disconcerting.
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