Sharm el Sheik and back to Amman and home
Trip Start Oct 22, 2007
7Trip End Nov 19, 2007
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Where I stayed
WOW! Sharm impresses. As we sat in the dingy Amman airport for 7 hours (2 hours early, and 5 hours flight delay) that element in the human psyhche that conjures up the most scary depressing outcome convinced me that Sharm would be just like Nuweiba but bigger. This impression was amplified when the taxi driver pulled up next to the gate of the Hilton Sharm Dreams, threw our luggage on the ground, and sped off, leaving us to pull our suitcases up to the hotel entrance.
Then at the entrance the doorman commandeered our luggage and ushered us into the spacious glittering lobby full of chattering laughing tourists and the heady aroma of the Tex Mex bar. Our room is spacious, well-lit (!) and furinished comfortably - definitely first world.
Ed wanted to just relax (what did he think he was doing as we camped in Starbucks only cushy chairs for 7 hours?) I needed a pharmacy to find Betadine to soak my wounded finger in. This turned out to be a lucky thing.
We (I) got totally turned around, well, after all we were staggering around in the dark, but finally made our way to the Hilton Fayrouz where we were told the pharmacy was. I could see the pool and I knew there would be no pharmacy at the pool, so we asked the door man. He led us around to the pharmacy. When we finished there we meandered further into the complex. There was a really fun looking middle east restaurant, and people were lounging on cushions smoking their hubbly bubblies. I kept exclaiming "This does not look like the Hilton". Well, it wasn't. We finally realized we were on a beach walk. Further along the beach there were tons of shops and internet cafes and shopping malls and hundreds of restaurants and a Hard Rock Café and a TGI Fridays. We settled for a simple shwarma that night and it was not served in a hot dog bun!
I'd read in Trip Advisor that there is a Thai Restaurant in Sharm. We found it! Thai House was in a complex with Chinese House, India House, and Sushi House. All from the same kitchen, I guess. The food was good and a welcome change.
We're just doing 2 meals a day, though I don't kid myself to think we are reducing any calories. We are very lazy. We eat a late breakfast, lounge around the room and read, write notes, make coffee in our electric kettle, and finally emerge around 1pm to search out an internet café and maybe later some lunch.
I wanted to book a snorkeling trip, but my nurse friend Carol e-mails me that I could get an infection under my smashed nail, which I really don't need. Coming to Sharm without checking out the coral and sea life is like going to Moscow without looking at the Kremlin. An infection is doubly undesirable because it could be hard to get rid of, and it will hurt like the devil. So no diving.
In lieu of snorkeling we booked a glass bottom boat trip to the opposite end of Na'ama Bay near the Sofitel Hotel. The couple next to me were Muslim. The woman was intently watching the fish. She was in stark contrast to the Westerners who know no modesty. Among the Russian women, apparently there is no such thing as being too fat for a bikini. Women of 250 pounds were loosely held together by a few scraps of cloth. I guess I have joined the old farts society!
11/17 Back to Amman
We flew in last night, a day earlier than necessary, to be sure we would be here in time for our flight home. The flight in was uneventful and getting a taxi was no hassle. We were given a slip telling us what the fare is to various points. In Sharm the taxi to the airport was 65 pounds (less than 12 dollars). That's the fare the Hilton guy got for us. At the airport, on our own, we got the guy down from $40 to $20. But they have to pay parking fees at the airport, so the $20 may not be too bad.
I picked the Caravan Hotel from our guidebook as it is cheap enough and near the National Fine Arts Gallery. At breakfast we met a Peace Corps group who got in too late last night to catch a bus to their respective villages. They described their houses - one had a sort of kitchen built in a hallway, and when they complained to the landlord, he informed her that her friends could build one in another room. Well that may not be as outrageous as it seems, considering that the kitchen is not part of the agreement in a prosperous country like Germany.
They told me how to get to the museum, which indeed is 4 blocks away. I enjoyed the 1st building very much. It had a sand sculpture on the wall like a sand timer. When you turned it upside down, the buildings would be covered by sand and then uncovered as the sand ran out. Certainly after my experiences in Egypt and Jordan I thought of it as the sands of time.
Back to the hotel and Ed is still not feeling good. I will feel better when I get him back to the USA.
He is in a limbo where he can neither sleep nor have the energy to get up and do something.
11/19 Ah! Chicago!
A blissfully uneventful flight. We followed 2 stewardesses to find the shortcut to the Hilton Hotel in the Chicago airport. Ecstasy! I open the mini-bar and pull out a Dewars (not my brand, but who's being picky) and a bottle of soda. I pad down the hall to fill up our ice bucket. I turn on real American TV. I make a drink. I feel totally justified in doing the mini-bar thing. I don't have to put up with anyone's smoke, watch sports on TV, or listen to loud music, and I can make my drink the way I like it. And I can make another one the way I like it, too. AND, the big thing, after 26 days in drysville, I actually have a drink!
After 26 days of BBC and CNN International being the only English language stations, it is good to be back to normal TV. Something like "Everybody Loves Raymond", "The Amazing Race". Relaxing shows with no gruesome headlines.
We never found out exactly what happened to Ed. He took heavy anti-biotics for 15 days, then a colonoscopy showed colitis. The doctor prescribed an anti-inflammatory especially for colitis, and after 2 months of not being able to leave the house, he was cured in 2 days. I reconstruct it this way: he had a bug, the anti-biotics killed it but caused colitis. Or the bug caused colitis. Whatever. It's good to have him healthy and happy again. And 25 pounds lighter.