Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Welcome to Dahab Paradise Resort

TRAVEL THERE: A SECOND LOOK AT DAHAB

Okay, this is where I confess that there is actually nothing wrong with the Dahab Paradise Resort.  The real problem was my attitude.  I still say we had no business heading off into a desert the US State Department warned us to avoid, but if we were going to be there anyway, this was a nice place to go.

The Bare Necessities

The Dahab Paradise is a lovely resort, but not in the traditional American five-star sense.  You’re not going to find stationary in your desk drawer or a terry robe in the closet (what closet?).  However, you will find very nice people in a very attractive facility.  The open air lobby looks out on the gorgeous pool.  Beyond the pool is the Red Sea.  Your room will be clean.  Our balcony was a small piece of heaven.  The furnishings are very appropriate for a hotel in the Sinai Desert.  They had a definite Bedouin charm.  In other words, if you’re going to Dahab, stay here.

There’s a very nice open air restaurant not far from the pool.  We had a fine dinner there and the breakfast was spectacular – especially if you are Egyptian or like Egyptian foods.  Personally I love pita, feta and olives for breakfast.  They will even fix up whatever eggs you want, but I’m not very eggy.

Now the bathroom facilities are minimal.  Don’t drink the water and only one of you will be able to be in there at a time.  I couldn’t face the shower and hubby wasn’t crazy about it, but it was functional.

Hanging by the Pool

The Dahab Paradise pool is out of this world.  It looks beautiful and our family had a great time in it.  There are plenty of chaise lounges and umbrellas for those of us who prefer to stay out of the water.  It’s so gorgeous that it’s a little surreal to think, “Here I am in the Sinai Desert and right over there, about 30 miles away is Saudi Arabia.”  The only real problem is the radical Islamist who cause so much trouble are probably even closer.

Once I was over my pout I was thrilled to discover my coloring cards and colored pencils had done their trick.  My grandnephew climbed up into my lap after his dip in the pool and I thought my heart was going to burst.  Even my grandniece, who is a little more stand-offish behaved as though I was on her team.  Of course, we’d be heading back to Cairo the next day and then parting ways until our next chance to get together.

Drinks in the Conversation Pit

After everyone was out of the pool we went back to our rooms to get freshened up, but soon we were back outside for the sunset.  The hotel has a great sunken conversation pit on the grounds with a wonderful firepit.  My nephew Shady moved to the head of the class with a bottle of bourbon.  All these guys are scotch drinkers and I’m not.  So, time after time the rest of the crew would be sharing a nice buzz and I’d be sober as a judge.  This time Shady showed up with a bottle of bourbon and gifted it to me.  Thank you Shady!

Awhile later they let us know dinner was served and we enjoyed a delicious moonlit meal.  That’s one of the picture postcards from the trip seared into my mind, but no one thought to take a picture.  The time in the conversation pit and around the dinner table under the stars were moments words don’t do justice and even a thousand words would not have been able to aptly describe it.   

Next up we’re headed back to Cairo after a quiet morning at Dahab Paradise.  Come back next week to read about that.

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL

My Ugly American Moment

TRAVEL THERE: WHERE ARE MY RUBY SLIPPERS WHEN I NEED THEM?

So, I’m in Dahab and I’m not happy about it.  I usually try to make the best of any situation, but for once, I just wasn’t.  I was being an ugly American.

Welcome to Dahab Paradise

All the way from Sharm I had tried to convince myself that Dahab Paradise wasn’t going to be as bad as I thought and the initial impression made me feel a little better. Then we went to the room. It had a big balcony and a lot of charm, but it was tiny and didn’t exactly have the basic comforts of home. Let’s not talk about the bath. It was clean, but that’s all it had to recommend it. I was trying to decide which emotion was strongest – frustration, anger or fear.

In the few moments it took to make an inspection of the minuscule space, Bill fell on the bed and went to sleep.  He claims he was merely exhausted, but I think his emotional radar warned him trouble was brewing.  Interrupting one of his naps is a really bad choice, so I tried going to the balcony.  Gale force winds drove me back inside.

There was no place to sit inside the room, except the bed and Bill was taking his half in the middle. I thought of going out, but I couldn’t decide what I would do. The wind made sitting by the pool a non-starter and there hadn’t been any sign of a bar in the small lobby. Besides, I had no idea where Bill had put the key.  While I was quite angry with him, I didn’t want any of the Bedouins or radical Islamist the State Department had warned me about to come in and steal him away. 

So, I sat on a small corner of the bed and tried to entertain myself. I caught up in my travel journal, read a book and worked some crossword puzzles. This was some kind of nap he was taking.

Part of my problem was that I was getting very hungry, but since I didn’t have my head screwed on right, I didn’t recognize it as a rapidly declining sugar level complicated by dehydration.  I just sat there getting angrier and angrier. By the time Bill woke up I was in a full pout and he didn’t even do me the courtesy of acknowledging it.

Re-joining the Human Race

The wind had died down a little bit and a trip to the balcony revealed everyone was at the pool. I followed Bill down to join them and finally someone noticed I was pouting. I think it was the groom. After some gentle ribbing about my demeanor, I realized I needed to straighten up.  I wasn’t happy to be there, but I’m not the kind who wants to ruin it for everyone else.

I also realized I was hungry, so Bill ordered some food.  After a few bites, the world seemed to be a tiny bit better.  Since I am writing this blog, it’s obvious that we were not attacked by Bedouins, radical Islamist or even your run of the mill thieves while we visited Dahab, but that was part of the problem.

Bill is the luckiest person alive. He lives on the edge of the envelope with aplomb. He’s never suffers any of the minor irritations in life that I do.  I should just trust his luck and count it as my own, but that’s hard to do on a consistent basis.

I have no luck.  You can be sure if there is any small print involved, it will bite me in the worst way.  If there’s traffic, I’ll be late.  I’m the one that loses my glasses, has wrecks and gets speeding tickets.  I show up for things on the wrong day at the wrong time.  I was sure if I headed off into the desert in spite of the State Departments warning I would become a casualty, but I forgot I was with Bill.

I’m thankful Bill’s luck protects me in all kinds of situations, but I have to admit I also resent it from time to time.  On the trip to Dahab, I thought it would serve Bill right if we were held captive in the desert for ransom.  Intellectually, I realized this would be a really bad thing, but I wasn’t doing reasonable very well that day.  Thankfully I’m usually better at it.  Come back next week when I’m over my pout and find out about the good things at Dahab Paradise.

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

Off to Dahab

TRAVEL THERE: A RELUCTANT TRAVELER

One day as we were planning the trip to Egypt, Bill tried to sell me on Dahab.  There’s a certain tone Bill gets when he’s trying to convince me of something he knows I won’t like.  That’s the tone he used when he showed me gorgeous pictures of a resort in the town of Dahab.  I could tell right away that something was fishy.

A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Sometimes ignorance is bliss.  There was a time when Dahab would have been a mystery.  The proffered photo of an elegant resort would have been all I had to go on, but now we have the internet.  I could find the same lovely picture of the Dahab Paradise Resort as Bill was showing me, but I could also find a map, which proved that Dahab was way out in the desert.  The only thing Dahab was famous for was a Bedouin Festival that died after two years of trying.  There was nothing else to recommend going there.

To make matters worse, the US State Department was aggressive in their insistence that Americans had no business whatsoever in Egypt, especially in a beach resort like Sharm el Sheihk and most especially anywhere in the desert beyond Sharm.  Fly to and from Sharm and do not go into the desert, their website warned in several different ways.  In other words, Dahab was not some place they would recommend for my touring pleasure.

From the get-go, I suggested that if everyone else wanted to go to Dahab, then they certainly should, but I could stay safely tucked away in the Sharm Marriott, with or without Bill.  That just wasn’t going to fly.  Even though I kept singing the same song up until the very moment we turned in the key to our room in Sharm, Bill wasn’t budging. By then, the awful Good Friday bombing had happened and the US State department was even more serious about their warnings, but my pleas were falling on deaf ears.

Climb Aboard & Leave the Driving to Us

Things didn’t get better.  I was told to ride in the last few seats of the bus, just in case we were stopped.  Not only was the US State Department worried about my well-being, so was Egypt.  If Americans were headed into the desert, a police presence was required, but it had been decided, that since everyone else was an Egyptian, either past or present, (or in the case of my grand niece and nephew looked like they were Egyptian), we could get by without the escort.  So I sat in the back of the bus and was told to keep my hat and my shades on.  I complied, but I was furious with Bill.

The hour long trip into the desert was without incident, but as we pulled into town I felt like I was in a movie.  You know the kind I mean.  Someone has disappeared and some idiot goes to the last place they were seen, a godforsaken wide place in the road that you shouldn’t approach without a full squadron of Navy Seals.  No one can be seen anywhere in the streets, but you know your hero or heroine is about three frames from a gun fight or a kidnapping.  Yep, that’s Dahab.

Thankfully we rolled through the center of town without stopping, passed through a residential area and finally arrived at the resort.  For the most part, the pictures on the website had been very accurate.  It seemed like a really nice spot – it just wasn’t a spot I wanted to be anywhere near.

Things didn’t magically get better.  For the next hour or so I was beyond miserable.  I couldn’t even put a finger on all the reasons I was unhappy, but I was most definitely not thrilled to be there.  Come back next week and I will make a full confession.