Marta's Photo Album of Egypt & Dubai
We departed Johannesburg on the services of Emirates Airlines at 19H00. We were fortunate to be travelling in business class with great big comfortable seats .Just before takeoff we were offered a selection of either fresh orange juice, champagne or a beer and handed warm towels to freshen up before the flight that would take eight hours across Africa to Dubai. After takeoff the ladies were presented with toiletry bag containing Clarins products and the gents with a similar toiletry bag, this also contained lip balm and toothpaste. We were presented with the dinner menu which contained a choice of canapés to start followed by a selection of three main courses, a choice of desserts and an international cheese board and Godiva chocolates. Shortly after that we were served dinner. During our flight we enjoyed a variety of the latest movies which are available upon individual request After a most comfortable night we were served breakfast and then landed in Dubai at 05H00.
We transferred through passport control and made our way towards the business class lounge where we would wait comfortably for our next flight to Alexandria in Egypt. The airport in Dubai was spectacular with a fairy land of exquisite lighting and numerous designer and electronic shops with the most tempting items available at very inviting prices.
Upon departing Dubai our flight plan headed close towards Kuwait and across the Suez Canal towards Cairo , then northbound towards the Mediterranean Sea landing in Alexandria. Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt, with two harbours handling all Egypt's imports. Alexandria was founded in 332BC by Alexandria the Great, and has a history of ongoing civilisations with all the cultural implications and was the most important city in the world. Unfortunately, almost nothing remains of the city's Hellenistic past, because under Arab denomination in the Middle Ages every trace of the Greeks was destroyed.
We had the opportunity of visiting the new Bibliotheca which can house up to 8 million books, has three museums, eight academic research centres, a planetarium and a most famous manuscript museum containing the Gothenburg bible. We visited the Alexandria Fort Qaitbai the site of a remarkable navel museum that documents the country's history. From there made our way along the coast towards the Sheraton Montazah Hotel which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. This 5* hotel has its own private beach and a promenade where you can bask in the sun whilst enjoying a traditional shisha with apple tobacco. We visited the Seagull restaurant which serves a wonderful variety of freshly caught fish and seafood a great selection of mezze. This is home to a museum of memorabilia, antiques and has a collection of exotic birds both inside and outside.
We arrived in Cairo the city of the Sun. Cairo home to 13 million people that are believed to live in the city. There are a great many mosques each with a personality of its own. These buildings are designed with the shape of the tent of the nomad in the desert.
We checked into the Grand Hyatt a stunning 5star hotel ,which overlooks the Nile, a truly romantic setting. The room was tastefully furnished with crisp white linen on the bed with an extremely comfortable mattress. Later that evening we went on board the Golden Pharaoh Nile cruise. The evening was very festive with lots of singing and music and a great belly dancer amidst us. The dinner consisted of an enormous variety of Mediterranean dishes which was served with wine from Alexandria.
The following morning we visited the pyramids at Giza, and the Sphinx which is a overwhelming sight, I cannot believe how humans could have built this so long ago. We then visited the Egyptian museum, which is a fascinating experience, depicting the life of Egyptian kings and their ancestors. Our Egyptologist guide was very informative without being repetitive and I really could have spent a few more days exploring the museum.
We ended our tour visiting the Khan el- Khalil bazaar, Cairo's main soak since the 14th century. Here you can find a wide variety of colourful goods including precious jewels, large leather bags for water, gold, silver, brass, copperware and perfumes which can be bought at bargain prices. Musicians and dancers add to the exoticness of this eastern market.
Sharm El Sheikh
We flew out of Cairo to Sharm el - Sheikh on the Red Sea. This is a stunning beach holiday destination, famous world wide for its scuba diving and snorkelling in and around the pristine coral reefs. We enjoyed the day on a day live- aboard boat in and around Ras Mohammed National Park which is a marine reserve. On board we were served traditional Egyptian food consisting of pita breads with hummus and tahnia, and a mixture of delicious small chicken pieces in a rice pilaf, some spaghetti and fresh cucumber and tomatoes, really delicious. We were given the opportunity to snorkel and saw a numerous variety of fish including fusiliers, parrot fish, lion fish, coral groupers, blue trigger fish and red tooth trigger fish. Later that night we went into the desert for a traditional Bedouin desert dinner. This consisted of olives, hummus, pita, chicken kebabs, lamb kebabs, meatballs and roasted eggplant, really great. We were surrounded by candles that were positioned in the surrounding landscape of the desert, and their light and that of the moon were our only light. There was a belly dancing show and the entire evening was arranged by the Hilton Hotel. It was a truly spiritual experience not to be missed.
We arrived in Dubai after a comfortable 3 hour flight from Alexandria. Dubai belongs to one of the seven United Arab Emirates and is a thoroughly modern city and resort, rising up like a mirage between the desert and the sea.
We were met by a representative of Gulf Dunes and were transferred in a 4 X 4 Cadillac Escalade to our hotel the Emirates Towers. This is the tallest building in the Middle East and Europe and is also the holder of numerous awards for being voted the best business hotel in the Middle East.
We were transferred to the jetty in a 16 seater Hummer limo. We were given the red carpet treatment as we boarded our traditional dhow cruise down Dubai Creek. The buffet on board included fresh prawns, char grilled meat and chicken, served with Iranian specialties which included rice with dill and broad beans just to mention a few of the wonderful fare that was served, the display was spectacular with great attention to detail. We were entertained by a belly dancer which added great excitement this memorable afternoon.
We were given the opportunity to hotel inspections at the Jumeirah group of hotels, namely the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Beach Club Resort and Spa and the Madinat Jumeirah each and all spectacular. The décor in these hotels takes your breath away, some of the interiors were designed by a lady from Hong Kong, and this was a most exciting experience for me.
We were given the opportunity to walk through the Souks where one can find an awesome array of 21 carat gold jewellery totally dazzling to the eye, Eastern carpets and embroidered cushion covers and wall hangings at a fraction of a price.
Our last night was spent at the Bab Al Shams which is a 5* desert resort and spa. This exudes the essence of comfort and understated Middle East elegance. Our dinner was at the Al Hadheerah desert restaurant set in the wide expanse of the desert. The selection of ethnic cuisine served here was staggering. There was lamb slowly roasted in an enormous pot that is lowered into a fire in the earth, this must have been the most tender and tasty lamb I have ever eaten. We watched a live show depicting unique scenes straight out of an Arabian legend. After a most festive evening some of us we walked back through the desert back to our room and others who did not want to walk could be driven back by a golf cart to their room.
The following day I was greeted with a most spectacular sunrise as I opened my drapes. Beyond my room I was surrounded by the most exquisite water features in and amongst the palm trees and beyond this lay the vastness of the Arabian Desert.
I went for a buffet style breakfast which serves traditional Middle Eastern food as well as catering for American styles having all the cereals, crumpets, meats and cheeses. However on all my travels I prefer to only eat the food of the country that I visit, this enables me to experience the various types of foods that are served there.
We were then transferred in nothing less than a huge Cadillac Escalade 4 x 4 with cream leather seats for the airport for our return flight to South Africa.
A visit to the Middle East is a must, as it is a combination of a variety of interests in having something for everyone. Egypt has the history, the archaeological sites to explore, the shopping, the culture, as well as boasting a most beautiful coastline of beaches, Nile cruising, desert oasis's with camel safaris and the most stunning scuba diving and snorkelling.
Dubai has shopping, sightseeing, sunbathing, nightlife, water sports, world championship golf courses, exotic sights, desert bashing, quad biking and fabulous shopping malls. Dubai is currently building a 700 meter building which will be the tallest in the world.
My special thanks to Emirates for flying us there in so much style. Mr George Fawzi of Excel Travel for all the wonderful activities and surprises he arranged for us in Egypt. A special thanks Mr Porus Guzder and Mr Eslam Badawi of Gulf Dunes for all the wonderful transfers and hotel inspections and activities we were treated to.