Egypt March 2012: At the coast in Dahab and visiting Luxor Temples.

The apartment in Dahab was beautiful. It’s called Sea Stars Apartment Dahab and is run by an English couple Tim and Sian.  Dahab  is pretty much a hippy beach bum diving town. Sharm el sheik is a one hour drive further down the coast and is where the package holiday tours go whilst Dahab is a chilled out relaxed hangout for kite-surfers and divers.
Sea Star apartments were easily the best place to stay in Dahab…a beautiful spot at the quieter end of the beach with a private walled garden.  Dave found them on one of our favourite holiday websites called http://www.i-escape.com
We flew in to Sharm airport to get to Dahab and then got a driver from the apartment to pick us up (half the price of the airport taxis) but ten minutes after setting off we were pulled over and stopped by police with lots of big guns at a road block.  Wasn’t too worried as we’ve been in that situation several times in Mexico and Syria and other places…..sat waiting for ten minutes and an armed police pickup arrived to escort the collected group of vehicles both local and the odd tourist….for approximately 3 kilometres of the main road before they went off their separate way and left us for the rest of the 87 kilometre road trip! God knows what all that was about and why that wide open stretch of road was any different to the rest of it. Ibrahim the driver kept saying ‘don’t worry very safe’ He seemed just as bemused as us.
Did get pretty windy in the evening and quite cool; jumper weather (as in pullovers not feeling suicidal) strong sun in the day but also a strong breeze so it didn’t feel too hot…which was perfect during the day.
Great views of the sea from the roof; Dahab is on the Gulf of Aquaba.
Abdul and Hassan work at Sea Stars and keep the place immaculate; genuinely lovely people. Abdul’s cat came and chilled out on our windowsill pretty regularly during our 9 day stay. I asked what her name was…apparently it’s ‘cat’. I nicknamed her Spikey.
Attention to detail…even the door keys look cool.
Loads of goats running around in Dahab, different little herds hanging out together on the main street, outside the mosque, down the alleyways….I like goats, they’re a bit dumb but always amusing…and surprisingly photogenic.
Unfortunately no photo but one evenign I came out of the apartment gate and saw a goat running around  with a catering sized chopped tomatoes container around its neck. I was going to try and remove it but it looked like it was made from cardboard so I left it…..goats are daft…. And STINKY!
The goats are pretty effective local garbage recyclers….plastic litter is a huge problem in countries all over the world and very evident in Dahab. The locals do attempt to clear it up though and most of the streets are cleared and cleaned. Lesson to learn; you don’t need to take a palstic bag from the supermarket or shop every time…carry one with you and re-use it…and don’t keep buying little bottles of water. Buy one large one or if you are lucky enough to be in an apartment like we were – there was a large 20 litre water bottle supplied with its own tap…so we could refill our water bottles as often as we needed and keep using the same ones. All that plastic has to go somewhere and can take up to 300 years to break down; so think whenever you are buying stuff.
We had to make sure that we kept the main gates shut at the apartment otherwise the garden would be invaded by goats who chomp through everything pretty fast….and there was also the odd chance of a couple of camels lumbering in. I don’t mind shooing out some goats but didn’t fancy my chances with camels.  Tim and Sian actively encouraged recycling at the apartments…we gave our food waste and fruit peelings to the local goats….which is fine until you find yourself cornered by a bunch of excitable goats with very pointy hooves and you’re only wearing flip flops…
Dahab is very laid back… so rustic that parts of the beach look like Beirut during the war, think bombed craters of sand and discarded lumps of concrete; but tons of good eateries and even a German bakery where we got served by a really friendly Chinese girl from Hong Kong.
Our local Italian fish restaurant Dai Pescatori was fantastic and without a doubt the best place to eat in Dahab…real Italian cooking by owner Nadir who lived in Italy for 25 years and still returns to a house he has there several times a year.  It took us rather longer to find the local Egyptian chicken and tomato dishes cooked at Zorby’s…we walked up the main road from Dahab town 3 times at dusk before we found it under a tree. The sign was in Arabic as expected but had no mention of ‘Zorby’s; apparently that’s the father’s name and is just how the place is known by the locals. It was very basic fare but very cheap and tasty enough. The tomato sauce swilled over the vegetables isn’t the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted but the Egyptians seem to add it to pretty much everything on the local food.
Ali Baba’s restaurant further along the beach promenade in Dahab is definitely geared to tourists but the food is good, it’s well priced and the decoration with the Bedouin style hanging cloth ceilings and lanterns is fantastic. It’s an outdoor place so you can sit on one of the carved wooden seats covered in cushions and look out over the harbour. They also give you free Egyptian dips which are fantastic as a starter when you are ordering a main course. Egyptian food is pretty good not quite as good as Lebanese which I eat in acton regularly and not quite as tasty as the food we ate in Syria but similar enough that we enjoyed it.
There are a LOT of dogs and cats wandering around Dahab…many of which will be strays but plenty of people seem keen to feed them and look after them and there are many local animal charities around. This dog was chilling out on the chairs on the beach of Dai Pescatori’s restaurant…he looked pretty content and had one of the best views in town.
Dahab doorways
Local street art.
Down the promenade…you will get people approaching you from every restaurant you pass trying to entice your business in…a polite no thank you is enough and I wouldn’t really class it as ‘being hassled’. Business was very slow when we were here, the recession coupled with the Egyptian revolution last year has left a lot of places hurting for lost income…so be polite and understanding and if you don’t want to go in simply smile and say ‘Shukran’ (thank you) and move on.
We got talking to these kids one evening over the gate of their compound in the local town. Bedouin grandfather came out and we got invited in for tea and bread. Sitting on the floor of a small lean-to hut round an open fire to make the tea with 6 women, grandfather, grandmother (who was busy mending their massive fishing nets) …..and then about 17 kids filed in. Great fun. I do like the Bedouin people, they are genuinely very hospitable and proud. Same in Jordan and Syria. It was too dark inside the hut to get a decent photo of everyone squeezed in there but here are some of the kids hanging over the gate…..Grandfather was pretty bossy and shoved all the kids out of the way…I think he wanted to make sure we were aware of who was the boss of the house, but he was pretty friendly…looked through photos on my i-phone, looked rather bemused by my i-phone video of my Father getting his face painted as a tiger by my niece and sister, I don’t think (understandably) he could figure out what was going on in that one especially as my Dad kept muttering expletivies and worrying if the stuff was going to wash off.
Luxor: Habu Temple
Staying at The Desert Paradise Lodge
Visiting Luxor Temple
Karnak Temple
Luxor: Hatshepsut Temple

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