Archives for posts with tag: egypt

I think it is safe to say that I picked the best Egypt trip SAS offered. Hands down. If any future SASers are reading this blog, forget what everyone tells you to do in Egypt. One day in Cairo is more than enough, go to Sharm el Sheik. Thank me later.

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Sharm el Sheik is a resort town on the Sinai Peninsula – our hotel was right on the Red Sea. It was, like all things on this trip, AMAZING!

Day 1
So after spending the night in Cairo, the group of us SASers woke up bright and early for the short flight to Sharm.  Once we got there, we dropped our bags off at the hotel and then got on some jeeps to go on a safari though the desert. Our drivers were so wild, we were wearing seat belts but still falling on top of each other and banging our heads on stuff … they were fishtailing out of control and driving super fast! So much fun!

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Halfway through the ride, we stopped at the Oasis of Mandar and hung out under this tree. Our tour guide Iman (“mom”) talked to us about the the Oasis, which was really neat. This tree grows in the middle of the desert despite it almost never raining and terrible soil. 

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After lounging under the tree for a bit, we hopped on some camels.

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They were pretty happy to see us!

We rode camels through the desert for about an hour, stopping at a bedouin tent for some tea. The bedouins live in the desert and are a pretty interesting people. The men sit around and “watch the animals” while the women cook, take care of the children, make crafts to sell, repair their tents, and go get water from miles away. In the past few years, tourism has started to become more important to the men, so they take people on camel rides, offer them tea, then try to make them buy the crafts their wives make.

The afternoon livened up when I was almost taken by an Egyptian man with an automatic weapon.

In our jeeps, we obviously had a driver, but we also had an armed security guard. I was minding my own business enjoying the jeep ride when one of the SASers on the trip told a security guy that I can speak Arabic. That really caught his attention, and he proceeded to chat me up. I was so excited I was using my Arabic skills that I didn’t think twice about it. However, after getting out of the jeep and onto camels, I started getting a little nervous. He drove the jeep up next to my camel and asked me to ride with him back to the hotel. I played dumb and freaked out a little inside. He drove off and I had tea with the group at the bedouin tent. After the bedouins, he came up to me and tried to get me into the back of his empty jeep, asking me how old I was and if I was married!

I RAN.

After that incident, I got into a different jeep with my trip leader and she didn’t really believe me about the security guard until he peeked his head into that jeep, and asked again if I would ride with him!

After this first day in Sharm, I didn’t speak much Arabic… I learned my lesson!

Day 2
The second day in Sharm was spent enjoying the Red Sea. Some SASers went off to do their own things at churches and mosques, but after seeing every other church and mosque in Europe, I decided to spend the day at the beach.

One really nice thing about Egypt is that everything is pretty cheap. It takes almost 9 Egyptian Pounds to make $1. Everything from coffee, internet cafes, and parasailing was pretty cheap! My friend Amanda and I went parasailing and rented a little boat for less than $50 – total.

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It was the first time I’d been parasailing and it was so neat! The water in Sharm is so amazingly blue… the sand and sun were just so warm and perfect.

I spent the rest of the afternoon napping, reading and relaxing on the beach with umbrella drinks. (Minus the ice!!!)

Day 3

Ras Mohammed National Park was on the agenda for our third and final day in Sharm. Now, if you know me … you know I’m not an outdoorsy type of girl. So the thought of spending the day at a national park didn’t sound that appealing, but one thing that I really tried to do this summer was keep an open mind and try everything. I’m soooooo glad I did, because Ras Mohammed is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

(I know I say this about everywhere I go, but it’s TRUE!!)

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We swam in these crystal clear waters all morning and came out so salty! After swimming, our guides took us snorkeling. I had no idea before I got to Sharm, but it is known for it’s amazing sea life and well preserved coral reefs. The Red Sea has some of the best diving in the world.

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The fish and reefs were AMAZING!!!

The colors were so vibrant and there were so many everywhere you looked! I could have spent hours under the water just taking it all in.

After reluctantly turning in our masks and flippers, we headed over to the Shark Observatory. Once again, I could barely take in what I was looking at. Sharm was so surprisingly beautiful!

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The shallow area near the shore was about knee deep, but as soon as that ledge ends, the water instantly drops to depths of 300+ feet!

Sadly, we didn’t see any sharks from the top of the observatory.

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Sharm el Sheik was like the hidden gem of Egypt. Back on the ship, everyone was talking about how the pyramids and other historical stuff in Egypt was neat, but that they felt the rest of their trip was a bust. I didn’t feel that way at all! I loved my trip and I’m so glad I did this. I had an AMAZING time!

Alright, my itinerary for this summer is official, and on the semester at sea website, we are listed as “current voyage” – how cool is that? I  have less than a month to go, and I want to post the countries I’ll be visiting, and take people’s suggestions of must see, must do, or must eat places! I know this is kind of ridiculous – but I’m so anxious about this trip because I feel like I MUST DO EVERYTHING in EVERY COUNTRY. I know that’s impossible, so if you’ve been to any of these places, let me know what to see and what to skip!

The ship leaves from Halifax, Nova Scotia. My mom and I are going up there a few days early and just spending some time before the ship departs!

And then .. I’m off!  

    Barcelona, Spain June 24  – June 27
    Civitavecchia / Naples, Italy June 29 – July 05
    Dubrovnik, Croatia July 08 –  July 11
    Piraeus (Athens), Greece July 14 – 14 July 18
    Istanbul, Turkey July 20 – July 24
    Alexandria , Egypt July 27 – July 31
    Casablanca, Morocco August 07 -August 10
    Norfolk, VA USA August 21

     In most of the countries, I’m sticking to the port cities.

    Gotta tell you though – in Spain, I’m going to the Medes Islands with my bio class to snorkel – and YES this counts as a lab class !

    In Italy, I signed up for a trip through SAS. There is SO much I want to see and do in Italy, and I felt like going with the program would be the easiest way. After arriving in Civitavecchia, I’ll be going to Venice, Verona, Florence, Rome, Pompeii and then meeting the ship again in Naples!

    I know almost nothing about Croatia except for what I learned on Bridget’s Beaches .. so I plan on exploring and beaching it up here.

    In Greece I want to see the Acropolis, but I’m hoping to spend a night or two in Mykonos as well!   According to my sister I MUST eat a lamb gyro – but this vegetarian is not so sure about that …

    I can’t wait to go to a traditional Turkish bath in Turkey! From what I’ve heard, they scrub you, beat you with sticks, then you get to relax in a sauna. And of course, I know hitting up the Grand Bazaar is a must.

    In Egypt, I can’t tell you how excited I am to see the pyramids!! I loved every second of Anthony Bourdain’s episode of No Reservations about Egypt – I  can’t wait to see the hustle and bustle of Cairo at night! Hopefully my Arabic skills won’t fail me and I’ll get to talk to some locals. Plus, my family is thinking about meeting me in Cairo for a few days and that would make me beyond happy!

    Finally, Morocco – nooo idea! I considered signing up for a field trip to camp out in the Sahara, however, upon further introspection, I decided that I value a modern bathroom, air conditioning, and running water available to me at all times way too much. Besides, I’ve already ridden on a camel, and I did NOT enjoy it.

    So there’s my summer in a nutshell! I’m trying to keep my mind on the last few weeks of the quarter here at Ohio State, but this trip is def more exciting to think about than Dies-Alder reactions and other carbon based molecules.

    Help me out! I’m more than open to suggestions!

    And if you want a postcard, comment, email or fb me! I love sending mail 🙂