Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Escape to Egypt

After some horrendous final exams coupled with the usual January blues, my girls Helen, Hannah and Alison, came up with the genius idea of jetting off to Egypt. Having only just returned from a Caribbean Xmas (see last post) I thought it may be a little extravagant, however with Mama Benbow being the voice of reason (and extravagant fun!) I was quickly convinced it may be just what I need. And yes mam, it was. You really can't beat spending some well earned playtime in the sun, whilst catching up with great girlfriends, in a lovely setting. Maaaaaaaagic. (And little did we know what a hugely topical destination it would later be!)Helen and Alison's travel agent skills snagged us a very student-friendly bargain consisting of all inclusive food and drink, flights and 25+°C sunshine for a week at a pretty spectacular hotel!

The Sharm Gran Plaza Hotel  is found on the eastern tip of Egypt's Red Sea coastline, in an area known as Sharm El Shiekh (otherwise known as Sharm El Shark following the recent JAWS disasters of December!) 

As you can see below - we were a good distance from Cairo (almost 300km away) so the political unrest didn't really affect us - yes the internet was down and yes the banks were closed and some guests may have been penniless during their stay but for us gals it was fine. Our strict poolside sunbathing regime was not endangered. Phew!

The hotel really was a treat. With stunning grounds, an array of swimming pools, beach bars, pool side spa services and the sea right on your doorstep - we couldn't go wrong. Whilst we had the pleasure of meeting some great Italian/English reps as well as lots of friendly guests, we also had the joy of viewing some truly spectacular Russian women.....from their do-it-yourself poolside photo shoots, to the matching outfits and on stage double-acts; we were constantly amazed.

The hunk on the right is Oli our English comedy genius who decided to join in on the bikini pose-off. 

Despite being in a very touristy area, we did get to experience some parts of the true Egyptian culture - perhaps some that we'd maybe rather not have. The men out there were a real problem. As is the custom following marriage, married women do not work and therefore every venue is entirely run by overly-friendly young men - and with our group of four girls it always created a bit of an uncomfortable atmosphere. We did get past it and managed to explore a few of the local markets to enjoy some of the exotic customs of the country: age defying teas, shisha tents, spice shops and more. The markets are rammed with tents and makeshift shops which house shelves and shelves full of colourful crafts - from ethnic pieces to complete 'designer' handbag collections, there was plenty to browse. However despite the bargains to be had, by the end of the week, the leering eyes and constant hassling became too much and I don't think we'd rush back to holiday in Egypt. Shucks, we'll just have to get scheming for the next holiday getaway!

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