When I went : November 2015
Egypt was my first proper holiday with my boyfriend at the time. We both wanted to see a place we had never been, I had thought of visiting Egypt but never thought I would actually get there.
We traveled with Thomson and chose to stay in a fancy Iberostar, it wasn’t quite a 5 star but almost. We flew from Glasgow and stayed at my boyfriends cousins for the night. The day before we left was when news broke of the Sharm El Sheikh bombings, it was not confirmed yet what caused the plan crash so we still traveled.
The hotel was very grand and our room was gorgeous. The bed was bigger than a king size so I thought plenty of room! We went for dinner in the buffet restaurant accompanied with our all inclusive wrist bands and dug in. We looked very out of place still dressed in our plane smelling clothes and dark bags under our eyes so we shortly after went to bed.
The food for breakfast was interesting with many different cakes, oddly colored sausages and cereals. I generally stuck to eggs and toast. The first couple of days we stayed by the beach or pool at the hotel. Every few hours chanting would fill the air from the church near by, at first it made me feel very cultured but after a short while it was destroying my relaxation. The food at the hotel eventually made me ill and was mostly the same each evening. A concoction of random meats and rice.
We had a trip to Cairo planned a few days after our arrival to see the pyramids. The night before we were due to fly there we heard from back home that it was in fact a bomb placed on the plane leaving Sharm El Sheikh. This caused us to panic and we had no idea if we should travel. Some told us not to and others said domestic flights will be fine. We spoke to the Thomson holiday rep for advice and he said he would still travel. We barely slept that night worried about what lay ahead and also the fact we had to be in the hotel lobby for 4am. We boarded the bus to meet other Brits and headed for the airport. The domestic security was ridiculous at the airport, people with bottled water were just let straight through and bags weren’t checked, the security machines weren’t even switched on. This made us extremely nervous. Our flight was delayed and when we eventually boarded the plane it was the oldest smallest tin can possible. We arrived in Cairo and the first stop was The Egyptian museum. The building was huge and full of ancient Egyptian artifacts and of course millions of tourists. You could easily spend a day here as there is so much to see. Next up on the tour itinerary was a Nile cruise, I expected amazing scenery but it was just murky water and buildings which disappointed me. After lunch we made our way to the pyramids. They are just on the outskirts of Cairo and as we drove I saw them just peeking up behind the buildings. I could not believe as we drove how run down Cairo was, buildings sat half finished and derelict yet Egyptians lived in them. The road leading to the pyramids was covered in rubbish, it was disgusting, I would of thought a road leading to one of the 7 wonders of the world would be clean. We finally arrived and they were an amazing site, like alien objects just plonked onto Earth. I found it a real shame that Cairo was so built up right next to the pyramids, in pictures there is the illusion they are in the middle of a desert but this is completely untrue. My boyfriend went inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the 7 wonders and I went inside one of the smaller ones. We then went on a carriage ride and we were advised if the driver takes photos for us we are to tip them, we decided to take our photos and this caused a riot. The driver kicked off he did not receive a tip which made the whole ride awkward. We then went onto the Sphinx, I really enjoyed this part as we also got told about the mummification. It took us over 3 hours to get back to the airport due to the traffic and the queues at the airport were so busy. We were again delayed and had to stand for hours waiting for our flight to be called. We did not get back to Sharm El Sheikh till almost midnight, we were exhausted.
We stayed in Egypt an extra 2 days due to the bombings. We spent most of our time by the pool. We ventured outside the hotel to visit the market but felt unsafe. Egyptian men sat on chairs outside the shops just staring and we felt very uncomfortable. I had heard about an actual tourist shopping area called Soho Square so decided to visit this instead of the local market. We spent a couple of hours there and it was nice, I felt happy and safe.
We flew home without our luggage and arrived safely home. It was a nerve racking flight and I was glad to be back on UK soil.
Verdict : I am so glad I visited Egypt and have seen what I have but I will never return. Maybe my mind would be different if it weren’t for the bombings but the holiday was just stressful. Cairo was a mess of a city and a disappointment, the food was bland and made me ill. Some people return every year but it just wasn’t for me. Go back? No.