Tuesday/Wednesday, 12/13 April
It has been three years since I was diving in the Red Sea in Egypt. My dive partner was Nicole. Nicole is from Germany. I had met her five years ago while hiking the Appalachian Trail. Nicole stayed with Dolora and I for three weeks at the end of her thru hike. Three years ago, Dolora and I visited Nicole and her friend Frank in Germany. After that trip, Nicole and I met for diving in the Red Sea.
Since my last trip to Egypt three years ago, EgyptAir has added a nonstop from Washington Dulles to Cairo. It is a ten and a half hour flight but it greatly reduces travel time. Previously, I had two layovers to get to Hurghada. Now just a layover in Cairo Airport.
Dolora dropped me off a little early so she could make it to her water aerobics class. There was no line at the EgyptAir check in desk. Only proof of vaccination is required to enter Egypt. I was able to check my bag through to Hurghada! No lines at security. Life is good. Some breakfast and time to find the gate. It looks like everyone in the airport is wearing a mask.
Flight to Cairo was on time. Everyone on the plane seemed to be masked. Lots of young children so it was not quiet. I found it interesting that the EgyptAir flight information display included a screen showing the direction to Mecca. The change in my flights gave me a six hour layover in Cairo. Hard to believe but the Cairo airport was a cool 64 degrees inside. Glad I had a light jacket in my carry on. Not much in the line of food options, just two coffee shops. Could not get the WiFi working but I use Google Fi when traveling out of the country so I had text and data as well as calling.
The hour flight into Hurghada was on time and uneventful. I had a window seat and was hoping to see the pyramids after taking off. No luck. Egyptian flight security is interesting. The only place that I have ever been where your bags are x-rayed when you leave the airport. My carry on was scanned 4 or 5 times today. I had a bit of excitement at baggage claim. All the bags came up and the carousel shut off with no bag? I had watched them load it on the plain. An attendant came around and was asking a few others without bags ” Where did your flight originate?” He took us over to the International Arrivals baggage claim and I found my bag.
The transfer driver was waiting outside, an hour drive to Coral Garden Dive Center. Traffic was pretty light. There are several Red Sea Traffic Control stations on the ride. Some have express lanes for tourist transportation. The speed bumps for these controls are serious, you have to slow to five miles per hour or less. I had forgotten how brown Egypt is. There is almost no vegetation, just sand and the mountains appear a darker brown rock.
Got checked in and on the way to my room, ran into Nicole, my dive buddy. I unpacked and we chatted and headed over to the dive center. I got my paperwork out of the way and was fitted for my dive equipment. My introduction dive is scheduled for 9:30 tomorrow. A text nd photo to Dolora. After my dive center orientation, we walked a bit on the beach. Mostly rocks. It looks like the sand has been brought in. Today was about 90, sunny, windy with low humidity.
Coffee at the outside bar with Nicole and we met another German diver. He is a little gung ho and wants to do a deep dive with us. Seems he likes to push the limits. We will see. Three so us had dinner at 7:00. Lots of good salads and desserts along with a pasta bar. An early night after having been up for most of 24 hours.The good part about that is that it helps adjusting to the seven hour time difference.
Neil Young – “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”