Time Out – Chilling on the Red Sea

Today I left Luxor to head to the Red Sea. On the way, I made a brief stop to see the Temple of Hathor (goddess of love) at Dendara. It is relatively recent by Egyptian standards, with its main structures being built under the Ptolemeic pharaohs just before Roman rule. The art work on the columns and ceiling was amongst the most beautiful I had seen in Egypt.

Richly decorated columns and ceiling
A dark, atmospheric main hall

It is one of the best preserved ancient temples, and still has its roof – which you can walk up on to.

Amazing detail on the ceiling
Me on the roof

An hour after Dendara, the road reached the coast and then headed north. To my left, was desolate, empty desert. To my right, all along the sea, there was mile after mile of ugly concrete sprawl around the main city called Hurghada. Many buildings had been abandoned unfinished – perhaps the Egyptians like ruins so much that they skip the “completed” stage of a building project and go straight to “ruined”. But when I reached my destination of El Gouna, things completely changed – the town was surrounded by lush green vegetation, which contrasted with the barren sand all around. There was a security check to enter town, and the buildings suddenly became modern and well-maintained.

After ten days of intensive visiting of ancient ruins, I had booked a couple of days here to unwind by the sea. On my first day, I wandered around the town. It was built around a lagoon, with many gated communities and some impressive private houses – again, with their own security. It felt more like the US than Egypt.

An impressive private house on its own island
The sea behind me, mountains in the far distance

When I reached the beach, I found that El Gouna was popular with kite-surfers. The wind was strong, and good kite-surfers had fun making extravagant jumps, whilst beginners struggled to stay upright. The location was beautiful, with the mountains of the Sinai peninsula in the background across the sea. I have always wanted to try kite-surfing, but with a wind like this a little fluffy bear like me would have been blown all the way to Sinai.

My own sport is diving, and I did a couple of dives the next day, the highlight of which was seeing a worryingly large (remember I am small!) camouflaged octopus. After diving there was not a lot to do except laze by the pool – the weather was just warm enough for this, with the late February sun.

My hotel
Chilling by the pool

It was nice to recharge for a couple of days after seeing so many ruins. My next stop was Cairo, which would require all of my energy…

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