This year was a big year for us in the Jermann/Howe household! So much to tell – where to start – let’s start with the littlest…
Little Winter had a wonderful carrot and parsley filled year this year, thanks to my dad. Unfortunately, it was her time to go and visit her sister in guinea pig heaven due to a growth on her back. RIP little Winter we miss you dearly.
Our next littlest family member has had an event fill first year! Violette was born on January 4th. Her adventures began in July. She drove across Canada, crawled around Egypt, explored almost all the corners of Switzerland and saw the Mont Blanc in France. Oh and we mustn’t forget the trip to the wine district of Alzace, France. 3 continents by her first 9 months isn’t too shabby. To say we think she’ll be a world traveler might be an understatement. She also keeps us hopping. She had 8 teeth by her 8th month, she’s climbing stairs at 10 months and pushing around furniture. She’s a powerhouse! And not surprisingly for all that energy, she sleeps quite well (now). Oh and starred in her first Groupon ad!
Jaedyn turned 12 in November. My tweenager was involved in dance this year and finished off grade 6. One day after finishing school we set off on our cross Canada trip. JJ was initially nervous but after getting into the swing of road life she quickly settled in. After driving clear across the country we flew to Switzerland (from St. John’s) and began yet another chapter. JJ started public school here and fit in straight away. Her French was at the perfect level for school and she quickly began picking up Swiss/Vaudois slang immediately. She misses her friends in Canada but has also made new friends here. She likes it in Switzerland but is also looking forward to going home in the new year.
For me, I’ve been on mat leave all year and LOVING it. I’m so happy to be able to take the opportunity to travel with my family. The cross Canada trip and our trip to Egypt have really been life long dreams that I had. I’m enjoying spending the days watching my wee babe grow up and loving being able to spend so much time with my almost teenager. I’m really looking forward to Christmas here to see what kinds of traditions the Swiss have and to finally see real candles on a Christmas Tree! I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed watching the changing of the seasons. I miss my family and friends back home but you really can’t beat this weather here. Vevey is situated in such an area where it’s sunny more than it’s rainy. We’re loving it!!
Luc took a leave of absence from school for a year and a leave of absence from work for 6 months. He has been enjoying watching his little mini-him grow up and making her laugh and smile. He also has been enjoying his time in Switzerland spending time with his family and friends. He celebrated his 30th birthday this year with him and 4 other close buddies by throwing themselves a huge dance party (the theme was fluorescent). It was a blast!! Thanks to him, we started out our first month in Switzerland rent-free by doing a house exchange. It was wonderful. Then Luc found us the most incredible apartment in Vevey with stunning views of the lake and mountains from our balcony.
Our trips around Switzerland consisted of visiting Luc’s Grandma in Valbella, his aunt, uncle and cousin in Zurich area, and our Canadian best man in Thun. We also walked to Montreux and took part in Desalpe when my mom came to visit. And just 2 weekends ago we went high into the Swiss mountains to Bretaye with some friends of ours to take in the fresh mountain air in a cozy little chalet. We’re looking forward to visiting Santa at Rochers de Naye this weekend, as well as spending the new year in Valbella with family.
We have had an incredible and fortunate year touched by so many generous friends and family. We wish everyone and their families a peaceful and fulfilling holiday season with love and warmth felt throughout.
Love, Light and Laughter for the New Year Robin, Luc, Jaedyn and Violette
Our last day was spent again poolside soaking up the rays.
We did a little shopping but to be honest I was spent on all the negotiating you need to do in this country. I think you have to either just suck it up that you’re going to get ripped off in every situation (which you do in every other part of the world – it’s just that you can’t negotiate the price anywhere else) or don’t go shopping. After reflecting on the whole purchasing situation here, I’ve decided a few things:
If you are traveling alone or with one other person, negotiating a price and playing the game can benefit you.
If you are traveling with kids or parents, it’s really not worth the time and energy spent trying to get the absolute best bargain. I’d rather be at the beach or pool thank you very much.
If the venders are yelling at you, you’ve obviously gone too far and now it’s almost an insult to them.
Yes items should be cheaper in Egypt then here (Switzerland or Canada) but they’re coming out of a revolution and they could probably use our money and it will help boost their economy and help their families.
And a few words of advice to people traveling to this country with kids:
Find out ahead of time if you will need something for your baby to sleep in.
Out of all our entire family, every single one of us got Montezuma’s Revenge EXCEPT for the wee babe. Consider eating baby food and drinking bottled water ONLY while you’re in Egypt.
Take a car seat and don’t be tempted to skip buckling her in. The Egyptian’s don’t drive with their headlights on in the dark as they feel the roads are bright enough. They only use them to signal to other cars on the road and this happens constantly.
A baby carrier is probably going to be too hot to carry a baby in.
Naps will probably be inconsistent or non-existent.
All efforts of sleep training your baby will be gone by the time you get back and you’ll have to start all over again.
We had a la carte for our last night at the resort but what was funny about this was that it was “a la carte” but the carte was fixed. Have you ever heard of such a thing?!?!?
The next day we took a bus to get to the airport. By the way, in Hurghada, there is an airport tax to get into the airport. Nothing to get out. So it seemed like a scam when we were negotiating the price for transportation to the airport but it’s not. I won’t even get into how long it took for us to negotiate the price of the bus and the plethora of different options to get to the airport (1 car with all our stuff and all 7 of us piled in there sitting on top of each other, 1 car two times to the airport and double the price, or the bus that they finally told us about after my SIL negotiated with them for a half an hour. Ugh!!)
The flight was great.
And then we arrived at immigration in Switzerland.
Everything was supposed to go smoothly. My hubby had done paperwork after paperwork making sure that the wee babe was recognized as being Swiss (but she didn’t have a Swiss passport, just Canadian), he got the visa for the tweenager (she’s got a Canadian passport) but we weren’t in possession of it (it was supposed to be in the system), and I was travelling on my British passport and according to the money we paid for me, the permit was also supposed to be in the system.
I guess since it had been 2.5 months since we had entered into Switzerland, the guard thought that maybe we were trying to leave for a week and get some fresh 3 month stamps on our passport so we could stick around another 3 months. He was an obnoxious jerk. He kept telling us nothing that was supposed to be in the system was. He was looking at a different system then the system that has our paperwork in (that we paid a lot of money to make sure we had in place before we left). My hubby and him argued back and forth and he was being a huge jackass…
They were obviously speaking in French and I was following along. Finally I butted in (in English) and asked him to call the place in Vevey that we had done all our paperwork through. He cut me off and started waving his finger around saying “no English! Only French!!”
So after they went back and forth for a couple of more minutes I asked in French “What are our options?” He said “You either stay here at the airport or go back to Canada.”
I began to shake. It felt a little like my trip to Vancouver after coming back from Amsterdam. So powerless. Thoughts of our apartment in Vevey and not seeing it or the lake again for a few years started flooding through my mind. How abruptly we would be ending our trip here. How soon I was going to be seeing my family again. The tweenager’s school… All the stuff that needed to get packed up. It was a little too much to handle.
Finally, after my hubby and the guard argued a bit more, the guard finally said that he was going to stamp our passports and we had 15 days to figure it out or we were considered illegally in Switzerland. Can you believe it. I’m not sure what I was more pissed at… how we had tried so hard to have all the right paperwork in place and paid a lot of money to do so only to have immigration’s system to not be the same as the one we were in, or the fact that when I had asked what our options were, he just said what he said to scare the shit out of me and there was actually one other option that he was neglecting to tell us.
I should apologize to my tweenager now for her having to hear all the foul words that came out of my mouth after we left his sight. I won’t repeat them here but I was pissed.
And now that we’re back, we had the necessary paperwork in our hands now so if we ever want to go to France or Italy this trip, we can do so legally. Oh and on the bright side, the permits are for 5 years so we could technically stay here for 5 years now. And it allows the tweenager and I to work here if we want to. Bonus. Don’t worry friends, family and colleagues back in Canada, we’re still coming back home in January
Anyway, that rounds out our trip to Egypt. A shitty ending. That’s for sure. Although I must say, we had a wonderful dinner back at my in-law’s house after we returned so I didn’t need to cook, and I was really thankful for that.
Since all I ate while I was there was potatoes, rice, bread and pasta (ok, I ate some fish and chicken) I felt like a huge potato. So I have been doing a “cleanse” since we’ve been back and I haven’t eaten any rice or pasta. I’ve been trying to eat salads, veggies and fruit soley but have splurged on potatoes and definitely cheese. I’ve tried to up my intake of water in order to get rid of the back bacteria that was occupying my body.
When I get back to Canada I’m going to do a proper cleanse probably for parasites. I’ve tried to look here for something but they either don’t have it or I’m looking in the wrong spot.
All in all Egypt was amazing. The history, architecture, the people, the scenery – it was all stunning. Would I do it again? For sure, but probably not for another ten years now.
Oh it felt good to sleep in. We almost missed breakfast time as we stayed in bed for so long.
We spent the day beside the pool soaking up the heat (Switzerland is now in the cool 11/12 degree range) and trying to stay in the shade.
My sister-in-law and I had been wanting to go into Hurghada to check it out and do some shopping. I really didn’t want to bring the wee babe with us as all she would want to do is breast feed, probably cry and want only me so I wanted to leave her with my hubby (he was ok with that) when we went. But due to the heat and the timing we decided to go altogether and take her along. My SIL also wanted to experience an Egyptian restaurant (rather than the resort food) and I couldn’t blame her but with the wee babe’s witching hour being right at dinner time, I felt it was a better idea if we parted ways and the hubby, tweenager, wee babe and I head back to the resort and the in-law’s head out for dinner.
My sister-in-law had been talking with the guy whom we bought the snorkeling trip off of. It seemed that he had a 3 hour city tour that he could hook us up with for cheap. Ali is his name. My SIL wasn’t totally sure we should pay the price as she felt we were going to get ripped off if we went this route but with 7 people it’s probably better than trying to organize it with taxis plus we didn’t know what to expect in Hrughada.
We walked out to the area where we were supposed to meet him. It all felt a little sketch.
He showed up in a van/bus. It was the most ricketyist thing you’ve ever seen. I asked if there were seat belts (the wee babe was in her car seat of course). He said no but assured me it was safe. I told him we needed seat belts at least for the wee babe. He said it was fine, and it was totally safe. Everyone was looking at me to decide what was going to happen here… were we going to go without seat belts, or were our family going to head back to the resort and let the in-laws go have fun. I spoke harshly and said that accidents happen all the time and there’s no way to know when and where it’s going to happen so I didn’t want to take the chance. Ali then said that he would get a taxi for us with a seat belt. The pressure was too much and I began to cry.
A few minutes later a taxi drove up. I got in the back seat and the hubby put the baby beside me and then we realized that the female part of the seat belt wasn’t there. I said there wasn’t a seat belt. The taxi driver then proceeded to tell me it was safe, no worries. By this point I was freakin’ done. I tried to get out of the back seat and the taxi driver put his arm up in my way. Oh no you don’t!!! I yelled out NO! and grabbed the baby (with car seat) and started walking back to the decrepid van that held the rest of our family while my hubby (much more rational than I) was fishing out the seat belt. I was yelling my SIL’s name and waving my arms. “I’m outta here” I kept thinking and then I heard my hubby yell that he got it out and we could continue into town now.
So I get back in, the wee babe get’s strapped in, and off we go. Immediately, the wee babe starts crying. From what I understand, the city of Hurghada is only 10 mins away so she’s ok to cry for 10 mins. Well, the taxi driver starts to get a bit antsy… asking why she’s crying. Asking if there’s anything we can do to make her stop… pointing to his boob and asking if she breast feeds… So he thinks that turning up his Arab music is going to help. Really? By this point, I was completely frazzled. I stuck my boob in her mouth to shut her up and just sobbed in the back seat.
We finally made it to town.
We did some shopping and got right ripped off. You see, there are no price tags in Egypt. Everything is negotiable. So the tour guide brought us to the shops that he knows the vender. What I’m sure that happens is the vender and him have an agreement that if he brings the tourists there, the vender will give him a cut. So we paid way too much because we didn’t shop around and see if there could have been better prices. Which there were.
Oh and the whole while the wee babe wanted to breast feed and she cried for only me. It was awesome.
My SIL was pissed. She said that we could have taken a taxi into town for way less and not got ripped off. She’s right. Lesson learned. Do it yourself next time. The only thing is that we didn’t know what downtown Hurghada was like so it was impossible to know ahead of time that we could have done it ourselves.
By the time we got back to the hotel, I was spent and couldn’t wait to go to bed.
Tomorrow will be our last day in Egypt and if you can believe it, the only person who didn’t get Montezuma’s Revenge was the wee babe, thankfully.
Ugh… What a terrible sleep and not only that, my stomach was cramping all night long. I felt horrible. I just kept thinking… I’d been so careful not to eat or drink anything that I shouldn’t have. And on top of it, I was planning on seeing the pyramids today! How was I going to walk around them if I was doubled over in pain and unsure if I was going to be able to make it to the next bathroom.
It felt a little like my dreams were coming crashing down.
We all gathered at the front of the hotel waiting for our taxi that the company we had hired for the tour, had organized. And we waited. After about 20 mins the hubby decided to call Marmoud and see if he could help us. As it turned out, the driver who was supposed to pick us up had gone to the wrong hotel. So now everyone was a little concerned as we had a 7:20am flight that we needed to get on and it was about 6:00 am by this point. The hotel driver told us not to worry, the airport was only a half an hour away.
The driver of the bus said that it would only take him 6-7 minutes! So we all piled in the bus. It was one the most horrifying experiences I’ve ever had. So here I was in pain with stomach issues, breast feeding over a car seat while the side of it dug into my ribs while going over crazy bumps, potholes, and swerving around gates… by the time I got there I was already spent. And it only took him 6 minutes.
We went through a few different security checks at the airport (never once taking our water away from us – we could have as much as we liked), got our boarding passes and we were left with about 30 mins to wait. As we waited, I gradually got worse and worse… my hubby and the tweenager were wonderful the whole time. He took the wee babe and entertained her, he rubbed my back, scratched my hair and they both kept asking how I was doing.
Finally we boarded and I was sitting next to the tweenager. I was writhing in pain. The cramps were almost unbearable. I kept wondering if I should try and go to the bathroom and throw up in hopes that the pain would go away but I wasn’t sure if I stood up if I could make it there. Finally the drink cart came around and I asked for Sprite and expressed the agony I was in. They offered me some pills. I’m not even sure what I took but I trusted that this wasn’t a first for them.
After I drank the Sprite I began to feel better and better. Eventually the pain was gone! I asked for a bottle of Sprite to take with me (I attempted to pay for it but they wouldn’t let me) in case the pain came back.
An hour later we were on the ground, picked up by Mohammad and on the way to the Cairo Museum.
The pain did get worse, and the Sprite didn’t help. By the time we were at the museum, the pain was just as bad as in the plane. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to make it all the way to the museum without throwing up in the bus. Can you imagine how disheartened I was to be in Cairo, wondering if I was going to be seeing the pyramids from inside a van while passed out in the back seat??
Mohammad said that there was a doctor at the museum (I know weird right?) and that he could give me an injection that would fix me up immediately. Yeah, you read that right, an injection in Egypt. Of course I was a little wary but I was in agony and had no idea what the rest of the day was going to be like for me if I didn’t figure it out quick.
So almost as soon as we got to the museum, we headed to the doctor with the hubby in tow. Up onto the bed for the woman doctor (she was about 60) to ask some questions about how I was feeling in her broken English. According to her diagnosis, it was a bacterial stomach infection and I needed two injections. What you may ask were in the injections? Not really sure. But one was for stomach cramps and the other for diarrhea. I was in so much pain that I forgot to ask if they were ok to take while breast feeding. The hubby didn’t think of it either. Whoops. That was a bad parenting mistake. Luckily, nothing happened to the wee babe. I’m sure it hopefully couldn’t have been any worse than when the wee babe was in uteuro, I was passing a kidney stone and was given Morphine. You do what you gotta do.
So I got two injections in my rear, 4 more boxes of pills to take that I couldn’t remember when to take them, we paid some serious backsheesh and off to the museum tour we went. What I had neglected to hear was that the museum tour was going to be 2.5 hours. All I wanted to do was sleep. Like seriously – sleep. After speaking with my mom, she thinks it’s possible they may have given me a large dose of Gravol as Gravol makes you really tired. And I was so tired (no more pain thank god – it was instantaneous) that I think I fell asleep a few times standing up while Mohammad gave us a run down on the Ancient Egyptian artifacts. There was no way my brain could stay awake and translate what he was saying so I chose to try and stay awake and look at all the pretty items.
After 2+ hours we headed back to the bus. I almost instantly fell asleep inside. 40 mins later we were at lunch where the restaurant had prepared special food for me: lightly fried carrots and zucchini, rice and steamed potatoes. Mohammad instructed me to take my pills and drink my electrolite drink.
I was finally feeling back to my old self. By this time it was the afternoon and we were heading to the pyramids. Mohammad gave us some more interesting information while we sat in the air-conditioned bus. To be honest, I fell asleep through a lot of it which was really unfortunate for me. One thing that I did remember though was that you can put a pitcher of salt water in the centre of the Pyramid and it will turn to non-salted water about 3 hours later. Oh and people have been known to sit inside the pyramids to heal themselves.
Mohammad also instructed us not to talk to anyone. Not even a hello or hi which felt really weird when we were being constantly talked to by the locals trying to get us to buy things. If felt really bizarre pretending that they weren’t there. Not very Canadian of me. But from what I understand, if you engage with them, they can become really aggressive trying to get you to buy whatever they are selling.
We stopped up near the top for some photos of the 3 pyramids. The sun was at the perfect spot again for beautiful photos. We then moved down to the Great Pyramid and walked the entire distance around it. Altogether I think it was 800 meters all the way around. Time was running out before the area closed. I felt like I wanted to spend more time there. Really appreciate their greatness.
We moved down towards the Sphinx to take some last photos of the setting sun on the Sphinx and pyramids. It was truly awesome.
Before we moved on, I made sure I too grab the tweenager and the hubby and just reflect on our last glimpses of the pyramids and the sphinx. This would be the last time we see this in a long time. Time to just reflect and take in their grandioseness. One of the things that Mohammad said as we were leaving that was pretty crazy was that there was a archeologist that had taken a piece of the Sphinx and did some tests and research on it. He deduced that the Sphinx is actually 70,000 years old. This blows all the previous knowledge and thoughts about Ancient Egypt and Egyptians out of the water. I’m intrigued to learn more about that.
Then Mohammad took us to a perfume factory. A very nice exuberant woman gave us a demonstration of a lot of the perfumes and essential oils that she had. They always seem to start out with a “complimentary” drink of your choice. Don’t buy into this. It’s meant for you to feel a bit pressure to buy since they gave you something for free. My sister-in-law asked some poignant questions regarding their essential oils which the woman had a hard time answering. When it was all over, my sister-in-law asked everyone one at a time (while the woman sat in front of us) if we were interested in buying anything. None of us were. She looked like she was going to cry. The tweenager felt bad and felt like maybe we should just buy one thing from her so she wasn’t so sad. I explained that this was their tactic to try and make you feel guilty. We left a couple of euros to ease our conscious and headed to the next factory.
The papyrus factory was next. And I think we got ripped off – again. You know when you’re getting ripped off as they throw in a bunch of free stuff. And we got a bunch of free stuff. We bought the Egyptian calendar, tree of life, head of Tutenkhamen, a free bookmark and picture for the wee babe (with her name in hieroglyphics).
We left there and headed to the airport. It was a longer wait again but this time we had free wifi so I was able to check my email and connect with the outer world.
All in all I would definitely recommend this tour company. Some of the benefits were that you weren’t in a huge group being corralled around like a herd of cows. The guides did what you wanted to do. Everything just felt more personalized and customized to what we wanted. And I just wanted to take one last opportunity to thank my father-in-law for paying for all of us. That was really kind of him.
We got back to the Hurghada airport FINALLY around 10:00pm and back to the resort around 10:30pm. We were exhausted and all I wanted to do the next day was play in the pool and recharge my battery…
Tomorrow is pretty uneventful until the evening rolls around…
In Egypt it’s sun all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. And the other cool thing is that it’s really close to the equator so the sun rises and sets at roughly 6am and 6pm every day. All year. That’s pretty cool in my opinion. Although I wonder if that makes it kinda boring and predictable. When I was talking with one of the guides, I asked him if he had ever left Egypt. His reply was no. I asked him if he could go one place, where would it be. He said he has always wanted to see snow. Imagine that for a minute. Always seeing the sun in it’s predictability… I can completely understand why he would want to see snow. I would LOVE to see the look on his face when he first encounters snow.
We began the morning at 5:15am when we were picked up from our hotel to drive to Luxor. The bus was a “private modern air conditioned vehicle” as described on the website. Marmoud would be our guide until we got to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings about 3.5 hours away.
The bacteria from the food or water (not sure exactly what it was as we were being so freakin’ careful!!) had gotten to the hubby and the tweenager but not too badly. I was a bit worried for the tweenager though as she had been sick during the night and I wasn’t exactly sure how she would do for a 3+ hour drive. Turned out that she did not too badly and was feeling a lot better as time went on.
We said goodbye to Marmoud and hello to our new guide Marmoud. It was an easy transition.
When we got to the Valley of the Kings, it was HOT and probably around 11am. I had begun to feel a little of what the hubby and tweenager had… So I decided to hit the bathroom. My first experience with paying to use the toilet (on this trip). We paid the 1 Egyptian pound per person and got our 5 squares of toilet paper. Hint for those traveling to Egypt: take some extra toilet paper in your backpack in case you might need it as they don’t supply it in the bathrooms.
Our guide was both English and French speaking but the majority of us could speak French so he spoke mainly in French. The bits and pieces that I didn’t understand I asked him or the hubby or the tweenager to translate. My father-in-law and sister-in-law both helped me as well. What was great was that I had watched a bunch of youtube videos before we left on Egypt so I knew a lot of what he was telling them.
The Valley of the Kings is simply amazing. There is a replica of the valley and where all the tombs (which are under the ground) are placed. There were 3 tombs available to go into and view the hieroglyphics and construction. The most unfortunate part was that we weren’t able to bring in our cameras to take any photos. Unfortunate for us but if everyone was taking flash photos of the hieroglyphs then then would surely dim to nothing after a while. As it was, we weren’t able to get a guided tour of them inside the tombs as the perspiration and condensation from people’s breath was wrecking them.
As we walked through the tombs it was very powerful to see the chambers, the art work, imagining the people creating this masterpiece in the ground thinking that no one would ever be able to see it again. It’s simply amazing how the Ancient Egyptians believed so strongly in the after life. It was almost more important than the living life. They would store their furniture, 365 little figurines to be their servants (one for every day of the year), food, jewelry, organs, etc… as they believe that these things were needed in the next life. It fascinates me. Probably one of the reasons it was always a dream for me to go there.
But it was so hot. I was carrying the wee babe in our Ergo but that was too hot for her so we carried her in our arms. I was getting a little concerned about the intake of water she was getting as she was drinking breast milk but I wasn’t sure enough was going in for the amount she was sweating. It also didn’t help when my hubby told me that he overheard someone else speaking French saying “I can’t believe they brought their baby here in this heat.” I told him that he should have replied for them to mind their own business.
After we left there (things were getting worse for me in a bathroom sort of way) we headed to an Alabaster factory. That was nice to see them making pots and different items by hand. We bought a few things and headed out again.
Next stop was Hatshepsut’s temple. Now it was probably about 1pm. H.O.T. That coupled with no food since breakfast at 7am – I wasn’t feeling great. It’s definitely impressive to see but I think I missed out on some of the background story as it was said in French and my concentration was lacking a little.
Then lunch. Thank god. We had brought so much water but it was all probably 20+ degrees hot by this point so I was craving some nice refreshing water and the restaurant didn’t let me down. The food was quite good as well, being sure to stay away from the uncooked veggies.
Back in the van and off to the other side of Luxor where we visited the Karnak Temple. The sun was going down at this point so the photos we took of the architecture there were stunning compared to the photos we got during the middle of the day. I’ve seen photos and video of this place but it’s much more impressive in real life. You just can’t help but wonder how this ancient civilization (with no modern technology) could build something so immense. How much time it would have taken them… When you walk amongst the pillars and take in the immenseness of the obelisks, it’s enough to make you stop and catch your breath a little.
Back into the van and off to the hotel. This hotel was even better than the one we were staying in. This one had three restaurants, a spa tub/shower with jets in the tub and one’s on the side of the wall of the shower. The toilet was like a little spa for your ass. No kidding, there was heat, massage, spray, dry… The only thing was it was broken. So no ass spa for me
By this point though I was spent. All I wanted to do was crawl into the bathtub, turn on the jets and let the day wash away. Unfortunately, the hubby and I had a communication breakdown and he took the tweenager to the pool with the rest of the family and left me for 1.5+ hours waiting for him to come back with barely any water to drink. By the time he got back, I was fairly upset as the baby hadn’t gone to sleep once and needed to breast feed the whole time and I wasn’t feeling top notch either by that point.
We headed down for Italian after I had a bath and then we headed up to bed. The bed was WONDERFUL in the hotel but we had yet another early wake up call (5am) and at around roughly 3am I found myself hugging the ass spa.
Day 2 we will spend visiting the doctor, the Pyramids, two flights and some interesting shopping.
This was the day that we headed to the beach. The hotel provided us with a free bus to get there. The bus was a little sketch but at least there were seat belts we could seat belt our baby into.
After arriving at the beach we laid down our towels on the beach chairs, lathered on the sun screen, put the baby in her swim suit and headed quickly into the warm water.
We frolicked (I love using that word) around for a bit, passing the wee babe back and forth. I was finally tired and headed back into the shade to dry off.
Not long after that a local showed up and started trying to peddle us some trips around the area. We were a little wary of him at first but then he had some other tourists come over and let us know that they had been on the same snorkeling trip that he was offering and it had been a great experience for them. We were sold and decided to go the next day.
Not long after that, we walked over to the area where the bar, food, and a henna tattoo shop were. The woman began trying to sell us the hair braiding (it was crazy expensive) but instead the tweenager ended up buying a henna tattoo on her arm (which we evidently paid too much for…). She also negotiated four massages for us scheduled for the last day of our trip. It was a tough negotiation but she had one of her masseuses come over (Tito) and he gave everyone a free 5 minute massage.
We had lunch and before you know it the sister-in-law had brought back another local who wanted to marry her. It was nice to talk to a local and get an idea about Egyptian life, politics in Egypt, more info on the local scene… but after what seemed like an hour, I found that I wanted him to leave so that I could enjoy the beach again and the beauty that laid before me.
I need to interject here and explain one thing: In Egypt they speak Arabic. But they also speak English so this worked quite well for me. I understood everything. The interesting thing though was that the family that I was travelling with spoke French all the time. So we were constantly switching back and forth between French and English and it was quite normal for either Luc’s mom or I to not know what was being spoken about as it’s impossible to translate everything.
We left the beach and everyone was pretty tired for the day so we cleaned up, had dinner and got ready for a big day the next day by having an early bedtime.
The next morning we ate and set of for the beach to catch up with the boat which was going to take snorkeling and to an island. We grabbed some snorkels, masks and flippers and walked the plank to the yacht. The music was booming and there were already a bunch of other people onboard from other hotels. We set sail.
First stop: snorkeling with about 10-15 other boats loaded with people.
Before I recount what happened for me, please understand that everyone else in our party had a GREAT time snorkeling. I was an anomaly.
I was holding the wee babe as everyone was getting the masks, snorkels and flippers on. Bad idea. I should have been getting ready myself but I was to concerned that the wee babe was going to cry and I wanted to leave it to the last minute. Everyone was pretty much off the boat so I passed the baby to my mother-in-law and put on my mask – it broke. I asked one of the staff if they had another and they did but it was too small. Now I was getting anxious as everyone had taken off and I wasn’t planning on wearing any flippers in the water (not really into them to be honest).
I finally caught up with everyone but it was like a swarm of piranhas. There was people, elbows, flippers, arms, legs everywhere. I’m not one to feel claustrophobic but I was really feeling it. I was getting poked, hit, jabbed all over the place. On top of it, my mask wasn’t suctioned properly so every time I put my head in the water, water would enter it. And it was fogged up. So you can imagine my frustration. I made a motion to the guide that I wanted to go back to the boat. I could barely make out which boat was ours as every time I looked over at it the sun was shining directly into my eyes and I could make out what the names of the boats were as my mask was all fogged up. The guide said 5 more minutes and everyone would go back. I endured but after what seemed like 15 mins I finally packed it in and headed back myself.
So here I was swimming back. Salt water in my right eye (hence swimming with one eye open), mask fogged up, sun shining directly on me and I can hear faintly as I’m swimming back, the wee babe crying her eyes out. Swimming, swimming, swimming… getting closer…. I couldn’t get there fast enough. So as I get to the boat there are two people hanging off the ladder to get up. I basically just pushed them out of the way and barged straight up the ladder. Grabbed a towel and then grabbed the sobbing baby.
Phewf, I made it.
There were two other places that everyone on the boat went snorkeling but after the experience I had, I wasn’t planning on going in again. And from what I understand, it was much better as there wasn’t barely anyone else at those snorkeling spots. What I was most happy about was that the tweenager had a great time swimming around with my hubby. She adores the water.
We then had lunch which was supplied for us. I tried desperately to stay away from the uncooked veggies that they lumped on my plate.
And then everyone piled into a little boat and headed off to a white sand island. It was hot and around 1pm and there was next to no shade except for a little hut that had no access to get inside it. I guess this is where all the boat tours go as the beach was packed full of people.
We went swimming again with the wee babe and tweenager and after we thought that the baby had had enough, I took her out and joined my in-laws in the little hut for some shade. We rested there for the remainder of the time at the island (about an hour).
After that, we headed back to the beach and then back to the hotel. It had been a really nice day out on the ocean. We were all pretty tired from all the swimming and the sun and we had another early wake up call the next day.
Tomorrow we head out on our two day tour of Luxor and Cairo (the Pyramids, a museum, Valley of the Kings, a temple…oh and I get sick).
Our family just came back from a trip to Egypt. Not a destination you would think of to bring a 9 month old baby but if you notice my Life List I can easily knock of the “Visit to Egypt” and “Visit to Africa” in one blow. Although, I think I’ll keep up my visit to Africa up there though as my intentions are more to see some wild African animals and to experience the African culture.
When I say our “family” went, I wasn’t kidding. It was my hubby, the tweenager, the wee babe, my sister-in-law, and my parents-in-law. 7 all together.
We took two cars to the airport and had to be there for 4:30am. Yikes. The airport was not really too interesting and then we boarded our 4 hour flight. Arriving at the airport was when things took on an Egyptian flare.
We had decided to wait to get our Visa’s until we arrived at the airport as they were cheaper there. After a short bus ride from the airplane to the terminal we were greeted with many men yelling and strongly urging us to go in their queue to purchase a Visa. As the in-law’s were already ahead of us I said no that I wanted to stay with them. The man continued to reassure me that it was ok, I could go with him. I continued to say no. The tweenager was looking at us with freaked out eyes wondering what was about to transpire. Finally I pretty much yelled “NO!” and he finally walked away. We walked up to the rest of our family a little worse for wear after our first encounter.
We got our Visa’s ($15 Euros each) and then headed into our next queue. There must have been 400+ people waiting to get their Visa’s stamped. And get this, only 3 windows open to all the people. I think we must have waited about a half hour until we finally got our Visa stamped.
Then onto picking up our luggage. Yep, they were the last suitcases turning around. I hate that. Anybody can come in and get your luggage if they want. We had checked in my mother-in-law’s stroller and a little attachable bag on the back of it had gone missing.
Then there was either 2 or 3 more check points you needed to get through and you had to show your Visa at every stop along the way. Imagine a huge bottle neck with your kids and your luggage and trying to show 4 passports. I needed my Rescue Remedy badly. After finally pushing through them all we arrived outside into the hot Egyptian air. It was about 10am.
Next task: getting a taxi. So the first thing you need to know about Egypt is that everything is a negotiation. A game if you will. My sister-in-law is well versed in playing this game so we left it up to her to get us a good price. She spoke with one guy who we negotiated the price of the taxi (for 7 people and all our luggage) to be 8 euros. He ushered us off to another guy and once we got to his van we asked again to make sure that this was his price as well. He said “absolutely not”. Something about how many people there were, how much luggage we had… My sister-in-law continued to stand her ground and before you know it the guy was yelling at her and some other Egyptian taxi drivers who had come up.
For me at this point I was just interested in getting to the hotel. If you’re feeling this way, you’re bound to get ripped off. But to be honest, I didn’t really care. After the stressful airport, I was ready to be at the hotel getting situated in our room and with the 3:00 am wake up call we had had, I was already feeling a bit tired.
The price was finally negotiated to be 15 euros to get us to our hotel (Pyramisa Blue Lagoon) which is only about 8mins away. From what I understand, we didn’t get ripped off but I think we could have shaved a couple of extra euros off the price if we were even more persistent (if you’re reading this and thinking of going to Egypt with 7 people, keep this in mind.)
So with the luggage strapped to the top of the van, the baby seat belted in (we brought her car seat), we set off for our hotel.
This was my first taste of the desert and the garbage of Hurghada, Egypt. There are palm trees there but it’s also very dry and desertish. And there’s garbage all over the side of the road.
We arrived at the hotel. It was beautiful. The staff were amazing. Very accommodating. We got checked in. My hubby’s family heading off to a place close to the pool (with stairs) and us over to another area of the resort (with an elevator). The room was great. Big king size bed (hard but good), a mini-fridge to keep your water cold (every day you would get 3 free big bottles of water), a bidet (that we once gave the wee babe a shower in), 2 TV’s, a porch, and a living room area. The tweenager got the short end of the stick on the bed though. It was a cot that totally sagged in the middle. We put two mattresses on it but it still was pretty pathetic. As for the wee babe, we had to ask 2-3 times for them to bring us a bed for her. The first bed that was brought was intended for a baby who couldn’t roll over or crawl or stand up. The second one was better but it had a hole in the back of it for her to crawl right out of if she wanted to. There was no other options, so we had to take this one. We pushed it up against the wall and draped an extra sheet over it to try and block the hole. On the opposite side of the hole the other end of the playpen was falling down so the hubby mickey moused the side of it by putting a table on it’s side and propping it up. It wasn’t too bad but we would find out the next day that the wee babe would hit her eye on one of the table legs jutting into the bed and cut herself. Sigh.
We headed down for lunch. This was an all inclusive resort so food was supplied as was free drinks. The food was buffet style and for the first day was pretty good! Ask me by the 7th day and I would say, ugh… it’s the same every day. It was Egyptian fare so rice, potatoes, steamed or fried veggies, some sort of meat in a sauce. There was a whole salad bar that I steered clear of. DON’T eat the salad in Egypt, you’ll get sick. An entire table of different kinds of bread and another whole table of different kinds of deserts.
As for the free drinks. The rose wine was disgusting. The white wasn’t much better. I never tried the red. The beer was good. The spirits all tasted the same. What we realized afterwards from talking to some of the staff is that over in Europe and North America, we let our spirits age (rum, whiskey, vodka, etc…) for years before serving them. In Egypt, they don’t, so they all have a kind of odd same taste to them. Instead of Gordon’s gin it’s Gordoon’s. After 3 days of drinking 3-4 of these cocktails a day, I couldn’t take it anymore and just drank a few glasses of beer.
After lunch, I went back to the room with the wee babe for a little sleep and the tweenager went swimming with my sister-in-law and hubby. It was crazy windy and the temperature was probably around 28 degrees.
Then down for dinner where we sat outside around the pool. It was an early night for the hubby, tweenager and wee babe. For me I stayed up with the rest of the family and watched a dance show put on by the animation team. It was pretty good.
Tomorrow we head to the beach and the next day on a snorkeling trip….