Thursday, 28 November
Slept in a little this morning since it is a travel day. Feeling a little melancholy today. It is Thanksgiving and I will spend the day traveling from Egypt to Germany. Looking forward to getting home and seeing Dolora. Started packing and had breakfast alone since Nicole left last night. Did a final visit to the beach taking some last photos of Coral Beach. Took a shower and finished packing. Walked over around noon to check out. My transfer to the airport was at one. I had a fairly new 60 passenger bus to myself for the hour long ride to the airport.
What fun at the airport! Go through security. Next, the ticket agent didn’t like my passport photo. He needed my driver’s license and still called over his supervisor. He told me “Not many Americans come to Hurghada.” Then passport control. Next a check for your visa stamp and then security again. Burger King for a late lunch, then the plane was already boarding. The flight was on time and the Munich airport much more efficient. I was through passport control, picked up my bag, through customs, on the subway and at my room an hour and a half after landing. Now only a six hour difference with Dolora. It is about forty five degrees in Munich. Actually, it is a refreshing change. Hopefully, I will see some sun tomorrow.
Since my knowledge of geography is a little lacking. I dug up some facts for myself which I will repeat here. Egypt has a population of just under one hundred million people. Tourists number over twelve million per year accounting for about 12% of the economy. Although Islam is the state religion, Egyptian beer and liquor are available. The dive resort employs only Egyptian men, no Egyptian women. When I mentioned this to Nicole, she said there were some Egyptian women working at the airport. I will have to pay attention on the way out. Cairo has a population of over nine million, Alexandria five million. Hurghada, the city airport I flew into, has a population of about 250,000. Safaga the nearest town, about twelve miles away, has a population of about 30,000. Hurghada is around the 27th parallel, similar to Palm Beach, Florida. The annual average rainfall is less than a half inch per year south of Cairo. I saw some of that rain my first week, less than a fifteen minute shower.
I made it through two weeks eating all the food with only one Pepto Bismol tablet, and I did dive later that morning. I did not drink any of the water out of the tap, all bottled water (and a few beers). I used bottled water to brush my teeth but rinsed the toothbrush under the tap. One of the divers I met told me to only eat food that had been cooked, no salads or fresh fruit. There was always good cooked food but also an assortment of at least a dozen different salads I could not resist and started with a plate of the different salads each evening. I also had the fresh fruit that was on the dessert table. Too many fruits I had not tasted before to pass them up. The food was always plentiful and tasty with spices.
I would rate the Coral Garden Resort as four stars overall. The diving would be five stars and the facilities three stars averaging four. Coral Garden Resort describes itself as a two star facility. Unlike in the US where the facility ratings are done by the hotel itself, in Germany, a criteria exists and the government provides the rating. Since this is a German dive resort, I suspect the official criteria was used. The physical facilities are worn but well maintained and clean. Towels have sometimes been worn but always clean and soft. The room was cleaned each day and either swept or mopped. The shower was hot with good pressure, especially nice after each dive. Egyptian quality standards and service are below what is expected in the US, but with the right attitude and relaxing, certainly acceptable. Room and diving have been an excellent value. Forty three dollars a night for a single room with a breakfast and dinner buffet. It was hard to spend five dollars on lunch and another three or four dollars for water each day.