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….