Package Sharm – Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt


Last time I came to Egypt I bypassed Sharm El-Sheikh completely only visiting Dahab and climbing the mountain before leaving the Sinai peninsula. This time since I landed here and thought I would take a few days checking things out. I am glad I did but I can admit that I am looking forward to leaving and hitting my beloved unpretentious Dahab once again.

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Landing in the Sharm airport is a bit of a gong show as there is no need to get a visa if you are staying only on the Sinai peninsula or if you plan to dive in the National Park (which apprarently if you are going to dive, it’s an absolute must). The visa is $15 US or 100 Egyptian pounds but it is only single entry. This seems to be a much easier and cheaper option than going through all the trouble of getting a visa beforehand in Canada. In any case, I bought the visa sticker (yes thats really all it is) but didn’t use it yet. There is a good chance I will be visiting Jordan so I will use it on the way back from there.

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The Renaissance Marriott Golden View Beach was beautiful and clean. In all honesty, it is much like any other package resort that you may see in Mexico except for a few differences. The food has a Mediterranean flair and the stereotypical loud Americans are replaced by whinging Brits. The staff are mostly men and there is definitely a slight air of aggressive male dominance throughout the resort. It is very subtle but as a woman, I am quite aware of the lingering stares from pool man even though I was dressed modestly in comparison to most of the other guests (save for the few women in full berkas) .

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If I am to be completely honest, I can say for certain that I prefer the more respectful attitude towards the fairer sex in Mexico but here in Sharm there is slightly higher bang for your buck when it comes to quality of product. However, the concerns are the same in both…water quality, safety, and language barriers are all prevalent.

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Yesterday I pretty much hung around the property all day wandering around smelling the flowers adorning the perfectly manicured lawns and tumbling waterfalls. I watched the tourists bobbing around in the ocean learning how to scuba dive or trying their hand at snorkeling. I did neither. I don’t know why but I am not drawn to diving here at all. I did however step my foot in the sea. It was not as warm as the Caribbean but most definitely suitable for swimming in.

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I was able to meditate and get some writing done which was a nice bonus that I hadn’t actually planned on. I suppose I am getting my momentum back. In the late afternoon, I was pleased that they were offering free wifi (rather than the $8/hour normal rate) by the pool bar if you bought a drink. I used the opportunity to book my flight from Sharm to Hurghada ($58 US with Egypt Air) in a week rather than take the reportedly unreliable ferry.

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There was a cultural show Friday evening that turned out to be quite uncomfortable to watch. It started out alright except for the fact that the music was turned up full blast. No matter where you were in the sprawling resort, you would have been forced to listen to the intrusive blaring scream. I shoved in my ear plugs and padded my way down to the pool area to watch for a while.

There was a man spinning around and around and around like a whirling dervish. He had on a long colorful patterned skirt which ballooned out below him. He would do several different tricks including lifting the top skirt over his head to reveal yet another skirt underneath. When he did this he looked like an alien spaceship and I couldn’t help but chuckle. The whole thing lasted about 30 mins which if you think about it, is a heck of a long time.

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Now. Here is were it got interesting. He seemed to be done his show indicate by the fact that he had twirled off both long flowy floor ankle length skirts revealing a pure white puffy cotton jumpsuit underneath. And cowboy boots. Can’t forget the cowboy boots. Anyway, he got quite an appreciative applause from the audience as he waved to leave. But then he was instructed to keep going. And going. And going!

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For at least another half hour he was forced to spin one of those skirts over his head non-stop. I felt so bad for him as the sweat just poured down his cheeks. Everytime he tried to leave he was blocked by the staff and corralled back to the stage. Aw. I began to feel real distain for the absent bellydancer who was causing this. In fact, when she finally casually sashayed on stage, I left in protest and did not stay for her very very sub par performance.

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I enjoyed the breakfast and the fact the chef came out to greet the guests personally making sure they were enjoying their food. The grounds and rooms were kept to a high standard but most of all I was in love with the bed. Somehow they had imported clouds from heaven for me to sleep on. But in the end, I was glad to finally leave and make my way to the much more personable Dahab.

Grateful for slower tempos.

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