First off, I have to come clean about something.
I’ve never wanted to go to Egypt, not ever. I had friends that used to gallivant off to Sharm El Sheikh when we were younger, friends who’d bang on about how good the all-inclusive was and about how you couldn’t really leave the resort you were staying in. Friends who’d come home and show me photos of their new couple holiday pals who lived in Wigan. Friends who’d be like ‘THERE WAS A PIZZA HUT ON MY RESORT’, and y’know what, that never really swayed me.
I’ve always like to explore, try different restaurants, walk around. I’m sure a lot of you reading this feel the same way about holidays – where’s the fun in being restricted to a resort for a week? Even if said resort is 5 stars and basking in 30 degree heat.
Which is why it came as such a shock that Egypt nailed it for me. That Egypt felt like an adventure holiday, a place like no other, a place I’m desperate to drag Chris to. The same way I’ve been desperate to drag him to New York (six weeks guys, six flipping bad boy weeks).
Egypt was everything.
After a 4am start (why are ALL flights at a time that makes you feel a bit like your stomach might just vom out of your mouth? Why? WHY?) and a two hour cab journey to Gatwick, I met my PR pal Dani for coffee and Eat breakfast pots (looks like meaty sick in a pot, tastes like all sorts of ham hock heaven).
Then we did something a bit wild. We looked around Duty Free,. We were both in the market (LOLZ – this is such a stupid old person thing to say) for a new foundation and so spent some time visiting all the designer stands testing them out. This sounds like such an obvious thing to do at an airport, but I’ve legitimately never felt like I could warrant splashing £25 on make-up before. But then TBH I’m normally withdrawing the last pennies lurking in my overdraft at the Bureu De Change, so err yeah, there’s normally not enough left in for my phone bill let alone a swank bottle of Dior Star (which, just FYI is my favourite thing ever, so thanks Mary Hickey for that recommendation.)
Despite the fact the flight was five hours and there was no on-board entertainment (we flew Thompson one way and Thomas Cook the other – the entire trip was actually a package from Red Sea Holidays), it absolutely flew by. Firstly, I got to SEE INTO THE ACTUAL COCK PIT BEFORE TAKE OFF. We were sat in like the 2nd row and I guess there’s no rules about the cockpit door being open before take off, it was amaze. Secondly, I listened to some seriously good This American Life podcasts (my iPad majorly struggled to download the 3 episodes of One Born Every Minute I had lined up, weep) and thirdly, we were sat next to an 82-year-old man named Alan.
Alan was from Bristol, had fingers littered with his deceased wife’s diamond rings, and had got on a coach at midnight to get to the airport and therefore hadn’t been to sleep since the night before. Alan wore a Hawaiien shirt and offered us doughnuts and broke my heart in every single way possible. I hope he had fun on his trip to Egypt too.
We arrived in Hurghada late in the afternoon – they’ve just built a new airport and it’s seriously swank. I mean, like, it looks better than Stansted, so there’s that.
Then we pootled on down to Makadi Bay and OMG OMG OMG AMAZINGNESS.
It’s made up of four separate hotels within one resort. One’s aimed at families and boasts a water park (although residents from other hotels can use it for a tiny additional fee), some are slightly more budget than others, but we were booked into the Makadi Spa – the sexy, luxury one which is exclusively available to book via Red Sea Holidays in the UK.
And here’s the WTF bit of the whole trip – my room had a private pool. Like, what even? And a rotating TV and a walk in wardrobe and a 3-room bathroom, but y’know, whatevs. I’m guessing it was the honeymoon suite or something, but it really took me by surprise in the best possible way.
We stayed at the Makadi Spa for three nights and whilst we were there got the chance to sample a LOT of restaurants – the steak one and the Lebanese one being my faves. Mostly because the Lebanese one mostly entailed bread and some of the best dips I’ve ever eaten in my entire life, there was like one that tasted like peanut butter hummus and it was basically how I imagine the after life to taste.
Oh and just FYI, there was a bar with four poster beds to chill on, so there’s that to Instagram and make everyone be like WOAH.
We spent the first day quad biking deep into the desert (naturally, I was unable to steer properly so had to go on the back of an instructor’s bike like an asbolute lemon) where we met some Bedouins, who are bascs people who live off the land and eat camel and live in straw and mud houses. I also rode a camel and got to look (not by choice because EWWW) at some poisonous snakes that can kill within 30 minutes of a bite, which was pleasant.
The second day was my absolute fave. We took a boat out to sea along with about 20 other tourists and went snorkelling. I mean, normally this sort of thing wouldn’t appeal because I live for sunbathing and tanning oil and more sunbathing and maybe reading a good book – but srsly, the colours on the coral reef and the fish were insane, like just magic, Hogwarts type magic. Then we moored up on Orange Bay which is an uninhabited island used solely for these boat trips – it’s totally unspoilt and I’ve never seen a beach like it. It’s how I’d *imagine* Thailand and like, the Maldives to look. It was perfect and just made me think of ow much I NEEDED to show it to Chris.
I get that when I’m somewhere which is just insanely perfect. Even if it’s just a burger place like Shake Shack, or NYC at the crack of dawn on a Sunday – I just need him to witness to beauty of it and feel what I feel. Does that make sense?
We ate a buffet lunch and then spent a couple of hours just staring out at the view mesmerised by it and the fact that really, we weren’t that far from home. It was so silent and so exotic and so new to me, to be somewhere that actually left me a bit speechless.
Then we got the boat back to Hurghada and saw some dolphins (I’m not big on dolphins, but I realise that 99% of the population is, so thought I’d best mention it) and got ice creams from an ice cream pirate. Or at least that’s what I called him, he was just a huy with a teeny boat that sailed about the red sea attaching himself to bigger boats to sell snacks to tourists. Mega clever, right? Like an inflatable ice cream van.
On the third day we were up at 5am (seriously though, I’m basically ready for the sleepless nights of motherhood after this trip, almost, kinda, OK no) to take a minibus down to Luxor.
I have to be honest – it was a weird experience. There ARE a lot of military check points and there were a few guys loitering around with guns, but it didn’t feel unsafe, not even for a moment. It just felt surreal, so different to being at home, and in some weird way, it added to the experience.
Obviously a lot HAS gone down since the protest clashes in 2013, but what’s worth remembering is that a LOT of Egyptians make their money from tourism, feed their families from tourism, and so they’d never do anything to jeopardise that. The UK Foreign Office still says that travel within the tourist regions (Sharm, Hurghada, Luxor) are still perfectly safe, and it definitely felt that way.
Although I slept most of the journey down, I did feel bit like I was on Walking The Nile whenever I looked out of the window. It was mesmerising and felt like I was defs on a documentary programme.
We visited the Karnak Temple, Valley of the Kings and Howard Carter’s house. He was a British Archeologist who uncovered the tomb of Tutankharmun in the early twentieth century, so erm yeah, pretty cool.
What I would say, is that as WTF HOW IS THIS STILL STANDING and how is there still such vivd colour on these beauts 2,000 years on? as all these amazing ancient places are in the Luxor area, there are SO many that it’s worth picking just a few. Mostly because the 40 degree heat will make you feel like you might turn into a shriveled up fig just lying on the floor after approx 14 seconds.
We spent the night on the MS Grand Rose boat which was moored on the River Nile, and got to enjoy a three hour little cruise up stream whilst drinking wine and haggling with men in a paddle boat for a scarf after they threw it onboard. SO many fun and games to be had. The boat actually does a week long cruise with stop offs for all the historic attractions, and has a top-deck pool because obviously.
Then, after a four-hour drive to Luxor at the crack of dawn the next day, we did the only obvious thing to do on our final day: try out the waterpark.
Did the lazy river, twice, road down flumes on inflatables and then did the ride that would break every single UK health and safety law, the ride to end all other rides – the coffin.
OK, so it’s not the OFFICIAL name, but it should be. It basically involves you standing upright in a pod and then the floor dropping below you, and you being catapulted downwards at about 578564735 miles an hour. Basically, if you go to Egypt for one reason, it’s this.
Oh, and to buy some great cheap knock offs, if you’re that way inclined. I bought some £9 Converse that are INCREDIBLE. Not that I’m condoning my own behaviour or anything, just saying.
Other things to note include the fact I ate rye bread with LURPAK (they have this stocked everywhere at Makadi Spa) every day for breakfast and it was all my simple breakast dreams come true, oh and they bloody love mango juice out there, and there’s palm trees, and Egyptians like to travel with at least 10 people in their cars, which is cute.
I’m already planning my trip back maybe in October, when my fast-growing-pale skin is ushering me out of the UK. I’ve only done all-inclusive once before and it was so dire that I only ate about a third of a meal there before withdrawing the remains of my bank balance to eat out for every meal – so this, this was just dreamy in comparison.
Can we just take a moment to appreciate the colour of the sea in my photos though?
In my country ratings, Egypt is now placed snugly with Tuscany and Mykonos, so just think about that. Oh, and it basically only rains on like one day a year, so the tanning potential is just as big as the Instagramming potential. So haps.
Oh, and a week all-inclusive at the 5 star Makadi Spa starts at about £700pp, which is defs worth it – and all the Makadi Spa properties are all Red Sea Holidays hotels. So stop doing what I do and pretending like it’s worth taking the risk on a £400 holiday on Teletext’s website, it pretty much never is.
P.S. Can’t believe I led this post with a bikini pic. 15-year-old, three stone lighter me is literally fuming But it’s totally true, you really do stop giving a crap what people think of your ‘bikini body’ as you get older.
P.P.S. All those excursions I did are available to book either before departure or at the hotel on arrival.