A different Christmas

Yep Christmas this year is very much not like any other I’ve had. I’ve Xmas away from home before but that was in London which for a while was more or less a second home anyway.

No this Xmas has been just different. Yes Santa arrived on time and I got (and gave) some lovely pressies. Turkey was duly consumed and sparking wine put away. Now it’s Boxing Day and as usual I’ll be interested in the footy scores, probably without seeing any actual footy.

But it’s still different. The turkey consumed was on Christmas Eve when at the hotel they laid on a massive special buffet (not the Christmas gala dinner we’d been promised but never mind that now). We played charades in our hotel room grabbing a rest before going out to an Italian restaurant for a meal.

At home a few hardy souls go in the sea for a Xmas Day dip. I played water polo yesterday afternoon and saw my kids try and drown fully grown adults (who incidentally sounded like they’d spent Xmas Eve skinny dipping).

We also spent some of the afternoon several meters under the Red Sea in a submarine / boat watching that evening’s dinner swim by with the extras from Finding Nemo.

Actually it was a fab experience. Getting up close with gorgeous fish and coral while staying dry and with great company is a fantastic way of spending any day. Let alone Christmas day.

It has been a fab Christmas and it’s been a fab holiday. There’s elements that could have been better. Oh god, I hope I won’t be dribbled over during the flight back. But by and large it’s been fab.

It’s a windy day today so not great sunbathing weather so will be off for a game of volleyball shortly. Hope all readers (both of you!) have had a fab Xmas.

Luxor, the Nile and walking the plank

Well I’ve been awake now for getting on 17 hours and they’ve been a pretty full 17.

Waking up this morning was fine and our rep had made the arrangements of a breakfast box (sandwich, pastries, water, fruit) and an alarm call. So we were down to reception in good time and as chilled as it’s possible to be having been woken at 4am.

Quick trip to the airport then a bit of waiting about for our flight to Luxor. First surprise was the relative lack of plane security – presumably because it’s a domestic flight. No not taking water here thankfully.

The flight was similar to the inter island Caribbean flights I had a few months back, including open seating and the same type of plane. The trip was longer than I expected but was fine.

The day itself consisted of visits to various sites, most of which you either know about, can look up or don’t care. I’ll just post some pics in time but just be fairly brief here.

In the morning we visited the Valley of the Kings and particularly the tombs of Rameses IV, Tutankhamun and KV 8 and KV 11. All very interesting on a scale that is difficult to believe – the practicalities of moving hulking great stones down near 45 degree slopes like in Tutankhamun’s tomb really doesn’t bear thinking about.

Then onto Hepshetsut’s temple (excuse any dodgy spelling please!) – big but somehow not as inspiring as other things seen.

Just down from there we stopped at this alabaster factory for shopping, and so the locals could engage in some gentle flirting with the ladies present.

Then we took some photos at these huge stone statues. Will need to look up the name of them as forgotten it now!

From there we headed for the banks of the Nile to cross it in this small boat, equipped with an outboard motor that kept shutting down.

After lunch we visited Kanakh Temple which was built on a scale that is simply extraordinary. For example they have these stone obelisks that had to come and be put up as one piece. Of 30m long stone. The place just went on and on.

Then to Luxor Temple which was similar but much much smaller. Finally to a shop selling some papyrus stuff where we were shown about the making of the stuff.

It’s really been an amazing, if very tiring day. The one down side was the predictable amount of hassle you get from street sellers when they see English people arrive. It all got a bit excessive at times.

I’m just winding down now wondering what delights await us in tonight’s hotel show. Will definitely involve consumption of beer!

Early to bed…

I think it’s Friday night – not sure because this week is seriously lacking any reference points. However, tomorrow we’re flying up/down (delete as applicable) to Luxor to see the Valley of the Kings. The Pyramids will wait for another trip.

The downside of that visit is that we’re having to wake up at 4 in the morning to go to catch a plane but we should be back early enough to grab a late dinner.

The last couple of days have been fun. It was windy yesterday and really rather (relatively) cold and today was a bit nicer but we’ve just had an excellent time.

The evening shows have been getting progressively more bizarre, although we’re missing tonight’s. After Wednesday night’s multi-lingual karaoke last night we had Egyptian entertainment. And not a sand dance in sight.

No what we did have was a belly dancer showing some guests how it’s done but they seemed to have brought their own bellies. We also had something I’ll just describe. A bloke in a floaty dress / skirt which he could spin over his head – and indeed the audience’s heads (as he proceeded to do over every single one of us over the course of about 10 minutes) – who also could carry many plates in more and more implausible ways as the routine went on. And on.

We gave up and came back to our room just as blokes in orange came out waving sticks about. Taking a break from keeping protestors in check presumably.

The entertainment as a whole has been good actually. The hotel animation team have been engaging and fun during the days and have put on a good range of things to do.

At dinner we seem to have made friends with a waiter who speaks excellent English, if we make allowances that he learned all his English from watching “Only Fools and Horses”. I’m sure I heard him use the phrase Diamond Geezer which I haven’t heard since Steve Wright used to be on Radio 1 in the afternoon.

Strange cockney affectations aside Ahmed is a lovely bloke though as has been pretty much everyone we’ve come across.

Tomorrow in Luxor represents the half way point of our time in Egypt and that’s really rather sad. Except there’s Christmas in there to confuse and delight us all too.

Chilling by the pool

I find myself writing here on a Wednesday night – well, Thursday morning really – and wondering what to say.

It’s certainly not that we’ve not had a great time. We’ve certainly done more than that. The surreal experience of watching the sun set in just minutes over Mt Sinai while hearing Christmas songs piped across the PA system, is one it will take a while to forget.

It’s not that the entertainment hasn’t been entertaining. On some level at least. Although being invited up to dance to “Hey Baby” again is an experience I could live without. I would imagine that’s helped by the fact most people who were present were also taking part.

The weather’s been gorgeous and we’ve explored all of the hotel we care to. It’s lovely aside from a leaky bidet in the kids’ room.

My problem is the slightly same-y nature of some of the events of full days 1 & 2. It’s really not a criticism but there’s just so many ways you can say “I’ve been swimming” or “I got overenthusiastic playing water polo”. Today I added a game of beach volleyball to my diary. Very good it was too.

We must get to some of the other restaurants sometime for sure but for now a delicious buffet will do. With wine. Followed up by cards. Which is always good.

What a start!

Well well. Hasn’t that just been a rather special opening night of our holiday. Wow!

The rest of the flight was ok. I had a baby next to me so had the occasional shower of drool but otherwise it was good.

The airport was largely excellent aside from the completely haphazard baggage reclaim, which almost that of the BVI for it’s ineptitude. Rest of the airport was good and our trip to the hotel was lovely. And short!

The hotel? Well that’s been just awesome. It’s dark so it’s been difficult to judge everything around us but we could see enough to explore. We could see enough to find a variety show. The show was pretty dire but still gave a lovely atmosphere and enough atmosphere to get me up in a big group dancing to “Hey Baby” at the end.

I’ve already seen enough to know we’ll have a great time here. Really looking forward to it.

London shows and shopping

I’m writing this post in the first hour of our flight to Sharm El Sheikh and after what’s been a pretty full-on couple of days.

Our flight from Jersey to Gatwick seems like ages ago now but it was ok. Having paid for business class I was kind of hoping for better than ok though. It wasn’t bad though – the lounge was lovely but the flight was comfortable but really nothing special.

For example, past readers may recall me being offered champagne and a big breakfast. Not this time though. Coffee/tea and a continental brekkie just wasn’t what we were expecting. Then when we landed we had to dawdle around in a bus waiting for planes to (slowly) move about.

When we got going we were fine though. The Gatwick Express seems to have stopped the overpriced food and drink trolley but it was fine again. The hotel near Victoria Station (The Georgian House) was nice. The staff were very helpful looking after our bags both before we’d got our room and then after we’d checked-out.

Our plans were that we had two shows booked. First up was The Woman In Black in the Fortune Theatre. That’s quite near Covent Garden so we had time to wander there first too which is always a fun part of London. Managed to avoid the Radley shop too which is a bonus!

The show was superb. The theatre is quite small and it suited the show perfectly. If you’ve seen the film then just don’t expect the same experience. It starts quietly (but amusingly which you don’t expect) but really build to the end with terrific acting and presentation. A great experience.

In the evening we went to watch Scrooge at the Palladium. That was good clean christmassy fun and helped make a great start to our fortnight.

Yesterday was a more relaxed and unplanned day. In the morning we decided to go to the Westfield Shopping Centre. We thought about ice skating but decided against it. I was really impressed with Westfield. The variety of shops is huge and you could very easily pass a few hours there which we did without really trying to shop – we didn’t want too much stuff in our luggage.

We then made our way back to the hotel but via Piccadilly Circus and a walk to Green Park. That’s a walk we really should do more. The number of times we’ve changed at Green Park station without seeing what’s above ground is mad. It was an excellent walk.

We then continued back to the airport via picking our bags up at the hotel and a really slow Gatwick Express. Had a nice meal in the North Terminal and made our way to our rooms to chill.

Good day so far today too. Just hoping this flight passes quickly so we can get on with our holiday 🙂