Tag Archives: holiday

Vacay Time

The last time in my life when I went for a sun-and-sand style vacation was more than 12 years ago with my mother. I’m just much more of an adventurer/city girl, enjoying ancient and not so ancient ruins and monuments and the hustle and bustle of world capitals. Thus, I was more than a bit skeptical about going to El Gouna (a resort by the Red Sea) to chill for some days. Hmm, scratch the above 12 years.. I did in fact go to a Gharda2a/Hurghada¬† resort some 7 years ago but I fled back to Cairo after only a couple of days, feeling totally claustrophobic and out-of-place in that small tourist town filled with mildly lobster-colored, relaxed people. In any case, I decided to give it a fresh try since Cairo was a bit crazy and since I didn’t get to travel for the Eid holidays like I planned to.

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Me watching the sun set over the desert from a hilltop

Not a bad decision! Apart from El Gouna being a magnificently beautiful place, and the company being the best I could hope for, the clampdown on the Rab3a and El Nahda sit-ins started the night after we arrived, making Cairo more chaotic than what was previously the case (and lamer too, because of the 7pm to 6am curfew). 4 days of fun, sun, water, activities, and delicious food went by in no time, and I can strongly recommend it for anybody out there. Egypt has so much unused potential, wallah!

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Day one (the day of my arrival) was spent familiarizing ourselves with the huge resort property, eating some of the best seafood I’ve ever had – seriously, grilled shrimp and lobster has rarely tasted that good (oh and the dessert? We had to order one of them multiple times), and philosophizing while counting shooting stars on the beach (it is magical; I managed to count 5!). Day two was a little more active, as we, after having enjoyed the beach for a while, went racing in the desert. Magnificent scenery, random camels, and freshly baked bread with tea in the dark made it a memorable activity, despite some technical problems. Of course, the news from the capital as the day went on (especially upon our return – the 4G isn’t great in the desert) were quite distressing and thus caused us to have a quiet, reflective rest of the evening.

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One of the best things about this trip, however, occurred on the second full day. I’m not a too-shabby horse rider – in fact I feel the freest racing people while on horseback, feeling the wind in my hijab as I gallop past whoever is in my way. It has always been a small-scale dream of mine to ride a horse in the shallow water by the beach right before or at sunset. And guess what? I can cross that dream off my list. Elhamdlilah. It was also a great satisfaction for my competitive spirit to beat whoever present – guides and others – galloping back through the desert. A hearty and surprisingly well-made late Moroccan dinner in the marina was the end to our day as I – exhausted as I was – started dozing off after finishing the meal.

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Galloping in sunset in the desert, pre-sunset on the beach behind a guide, and getting ready for the whole thing at the desert stables (bottom left).

The last full day started early. I would go snorkeling for the very first time in my life – yay (I mentioned I’m not a beach-and-sun kind of traveler)! We went by boat to two different locations, and spent a couple of hours in the water in total, discovering the beautiful and diverse corals and colorful fish of the Red Sea. If you haven’t done it already, you should. It is a must.

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My modest but stylish Madamme BK swimsuit pre-snorkeling in the Red Sea – still the most beautiful Muslim swimwear out there.

What could possibly be better after three days of activities and with most my muscles aching? A spa treatment! I spent a whole three hours getting pampered at what the hotel claimed is the biggest spa in Egypt. Mmmmm. It was so worth it.

Sadly, my time in El Gouna came to an end the next day, as it was time to return to closed-down Cairo. I did manage to sneak out during curfew time for sushi, but my vacation was dearly missed only few hours after its end.

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Glitter and Lights

A very, very belated Eid saeed to all my lovely readers out there who do not follow me on Instagram or Facebook (I’ve already wished you a happy feast there). Since I failed to wake up super-duper early to manage to catch the Eid prayers in any masgid in Cairo (they’re at 5-or-so AM there which means way after fagr and way before it is healthy to get up and out of the house, as opposed to America’s comparatively comfy 9AM prayers), I tried to dress up a little to still get that Eid feel.

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My outfit was not the most convenient choice for the activities of the day. Although we started relatively light, hanging out at a coffee shop in decent El Maadi, things would soon take a turn for way dustier areas. Again, being the addicts of cheap, dirty kebda (liver) and sogo2 (spicy sausage) sandwiches we are (another reference to this addiction is to be found in the previous post), we just had to get food from an infamous place at share3 Muezz (a historical street by the El Husein or Khan el Khalily district). Taking the sandwiches to-go, we sat in a cafe in el husein eating them with some delish mint tea, to the sound of oud music. Not bad at all. Upon leaving and walking the narrow alleys back to the car, we found a couple of camels and horses for the residents’ kids to ride on (which I of course had to pose with).

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(Upper left: one of the slim streets off of share3 Muezz in decked out in all its sha3by charm, upper right: posing with some flowers prior to going out, lower left: My friend Bahaa is not only a computer genius; he also has one of the coolest hair styles in Cairo, lower right: one of the awesome, decorated camels of share3 Muezz)

We then went to Masr el gededa for some fresh juice (kiwi, yay!), after which we ended the evening in another sandwich store in another dusty area, Ramsis. My previously off-white maxi skirt had definitely done its duty sweeping the streets of Cairo that day.

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Square zebra print scarf: H&M, sequin blazer jacket: Mango, chiffon shirt: Vero Moda, zebra print belt: River Island, off-white maxi skirt: Zara, clutch: vintage, accessories: H&M

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