3rd stay at Soma Bay
Literally just back from the third stay at the Soma Bay Sheraton - arrived home in the early hours of 29th September. No big surprises from the last 2 visits!
The main reason to go to Soma Bay is to have a restful holiday in a good hotel on a lovely bay. Its fantastic for the stressed out and watersprorts enthusiasts. It is also very isolated and can feel a bit like you are in a time loop reliving the same day over and over. We have seen teenagers going stir crazy there!.
You can go to Safaga city (20 mins) or up to Hurghada (45 minutes). There are glass boat trips to see the beautiful reef and snorkelling trips out into the bay. The hotel organises evening shows, has a disco, a health club, kids club, and animators who organise football matches etc. There's golf and the nice Thalasso centre at the Cascades - you can eat there for a change. There's a Marina still under construction which apparently will have a couple of shops and a cafe and another large Hotel. Robinsons next door is a German all inclusive.
And that's it. If you want nightlife or shopping with your Egyptian sun and sand go to Hurghada or El Gouna.
The rooms are really comfortable and very well maintained with everything you need for a nice stay. The towels are changed twice a day once in the morning by the room attendant and in the evening by the towel man. They have their own brand of toiletries now which are surprisingly nice and you wouldn't mind using - not the usual washing up liquid shampoo and thin body lotion. All the rooms have a minibar stocked with soft drinks, juices, chocolate and beer. You have to pay for the minibar if not on all inclusive. Its about 30 Egyptian for a can of beer. All rooms have or will have soon a kettle and mugs and a tray with creamer, sugar, teabags, decaff nescafe. They are also going to provide for all rooms bathrobes and slippers/flip flops. When we were there in March last year it was slippers this time it was flip flops. There are 42 channels on the TV with Euronews, CNN, and 3 movie channels with movies in English subtitled in Arabic.
A couple of days in a weeks stay you normally get a plate of little pastries or biscuits.
The food here is still the best we've had in Egypt. There's always a good choice no matter what time of day you want to eat.
Breakfast is from 6.30 am to 11am and the choice is amazing.
Juices including fresh squeezed orange Fruits fresh, dried, stewed yoghurt (5 kinds) cereals (10 kinds) , breads (about 15 kinds) pastries (about 20 kinds) , cold cuts and cheeses, jams. The hot food includes burgers, chicken and beef sausages, beef bacon, baked beans, tomatoes with cheese, potato cakes, fish cakes, french toast, porridge and pancakes and waffles with all the toppings. There is a chef on hand to make omelettes to your taste. You can also have the Egyptian breakfast of brown bean stew - Fool - with white cheese, hard boiled eggs and pitta bread.
Should you feel you need any food after breakfast the Copper Crescent Grill is open from 11 till about 5.30 for grills, salads, sandwiches, huge pizzas fresh from the oven, fish, ice creams and desserts. It can be crazy in there at lunchtime - it is as previous reviewers have said best before about 1 o clock. You can get sandwiches, juices and ice creams from the Beach Hut.
There is afternoon tea at the Solar Bay bar.
In the evenings you can eat at the buffet L'Abydos or the Italian L'Emporio. The buffet has a different theme each evening or you can choose from the A' la Carte menu. We tend to eat at the Italian. The four course set menu very enjoyable. Example antipasti for starters with good breads including olive bread, second course a choice of two pastas or a pasta and a risotto, third course a meat or fish dish with a nice sauce and some vegetables and a choice from the dessert table.
There is 24 hour room service with soup, sandwiches, pasta, salads, grills, burgers, desserts.
None of this is cheap. The set menu at the Italian is £22 a head, a bottle of wine £15. So £60 for dinner for 2. A bottle of water is £1.50, a bottle of beer is £2.60 - Sakkara is MUCH nicer than Stella Local. Room service is relatively inexpensive - fillet steak and chips £8, spag bol £4.00) I believe that from the 1st November all water will be free at all outlets in the hotel.
I agree with previous reviewers that the all inclusive is definitely worth the money normally. We don't usually spend a lot on food and drink on holiday. We don't normally eat lunch (it's too hot adn we have to fit it around snorkelling trips) , we drink water or tea/coffee during the day and have a couple of bottles of beer or a bottle of wine in the evening. We ate in the Italian and had a room service meal on the evening we arrived. We had nothing out of the minibar and no ice creams or afternoon tea. The food and drink part of the bill was still £350.
Front desk and housekeeping service is normally excellent. Service elsewhere can be a bit patchy, not their fault when you see how they run around, they sometimes just don't have the time for you. It's due primarily to there not being enough staff to guests. It wouldn't stop us going there again.
khalid_2's new Egypt Page
Not only are the two temples at Abu Simbel among the most magnificent monuments in the world but their removal and reconstruction was an historic event in itself. When the temples (280 km from Aswan) were threatened by submersion in Lake Nasser, due to the construction of the High Dam, the Egyptian Government secured the support of UNESCO and launched a worldwide appeal. During the salvage operation which began in 1964 and continued until 1968, the two temples were dismantled and raised over 60 meters up the sandstone cliff where they had been built more than 3,000 years before. Here they were reassembled, in the exact same relationship to each other and the sun, and covered with an artificial mountain. Most of the joins in the stone have now been filled by antiquity experts, but inside the temples it is till possible to see where the blocks were cut. You can also go inside the man made dome and see an exhibition of photographs showing the different stages of the massive removal project.
The second largest city in Egypt, and has an atmosphere which is more Mediterranean than Middle Eastern. And can be visited in a day's sightseeing. Alexandria is a year round beach resort with long white beaches and blue sea.
Alexandria, the bride of the Mediterranean was founded by Alexander the Great in 332 BC, as the capital for his Egyptian Kingdom. This second largest city in Egypt, has and identity of its own. Separate from the image of ancient Pharaohs and Pyramids, it is the brainchild of one of the world's greatest military figure, home of the largest library and greatest center of learning the ancient world. In addition to founding Alexandria's famed library, Ptolemy ordered the construction of the Pharos lighthouse that counted among the Seven Wonders of the World.
Greeco Roman Museum
The collection, which covers the period from the 3rd century BC to the 7th century AD, includes frescoes, coins, mummies, papyruses, vases, ums and a large number of sculptures.
The Catacombs of Kom El Shoufa
Kom El Shoufa is underground wonder world of ornate carvings and paintings and mixture of Roman and Egyptian designs. It is the Largest Roman Funerary complex in Egypt and dates from the second century AD.
This 25m column of red Aswan granite overlooking the city, was once the center of the ancient site of Mark Antony and Cleopatra's second library. Standing 27m high with a circumference of 8m, it was erected in honour of the Emperor Diocletian, originally from the Temple of Serapis, once a magnificent structure rivalling the Soma and the Caesareum.
This citadel is the furthermost edifice on the harbour arm. The Fort is on the original site of Pharos, Alexandria's ancient lighthouse, built in 279 BC to a height of 125 meters and topped with a statue of Poseidon. Although Pharos was restored at various times it had finally crumbled by the time the original Fort was built here, in 1480's. This magnificent structure houses Fort Qait Bey's naval Museum.
The Roman Theatre
Discovered in 1964, after 30 years of excavation, this well-preserved ancient Roman Theatre with marble seats, galleries and sections of mosaic flooring, was probably a roofed theatre used for musical performance and based on the inscription carved on the seats, wrestling contest. The theatre had a capacity of 700-800 seats and in Ptolemaic times it was the Park of Pan, a pleasure garden surrounded by Roman villas and baths.
Here the Nile is at its most beautiful, flowing through desert and granite rocks, round plush green islands covered with palms and tropical plants.
The ancient military bhold of Elephantine Island separates the Nile into two channels opposite Aswan. Apicturesgue walk through Nubian villages takes one to entrance of the small museum. The ruins of many temples can be seen, including the temple of Khnum.
Kitchner's Island is a botanical garden, filled with exotic plants and trees imported from all over the world. It is a perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon in the shade. The island must be reached by boat, and is located on the other side of Elephantine Island from Aswan. The Island was given to Lord Kitchner for his campaigns in the Sudan, and he moved their and created his garden, importing plants and trees from all over the world. Today, the Egyptian government operates this popular tourist destination.
Kalabsha Temple originally built at Kalabsha (Talmis) was moved to its present location at New Kalabsha (Chellal) in 1970, together with other monuments from Nubia, including the Kiosk of Qertassi (Kertassi). Also nearby is Beit al-Wali. Reachable by taxi or by boat, depending on the water level, the sandstone edifice was built by the Roman Emperor Octavius Augustus (30 to 14 BC) and dedicated to the fertility and Nubian Solar deity known as Mandulis (Merwel who was the Nubian counterpart of Horus).
Agha Khan Mausoleum
This is the Mausoleum of the spiritual leader of the Ismailis, a Shi'ite sect (as were the Fatimid) based principally in India but with followers around the world. It is a very elegant pink granite structure of late 1950 origin, which also resembles the Fatimid tombs in Cairo. Members of this sect consider themselves to be the direct spiritual descendants of the Fatimid. The Mausoleum has an excellent view, including Aga Khan's white villa below, and is near the Monastery of St. Simeons on the west bank at Aswan. His Begun, or wife, still lives in the villa three months of the year.
The Unfinished Obelisk
The Unfinished Obelisk located in the Northern Quarry still lies where a crack was discovered as it was being hewn from the rock. Possibly intended as a companion to the Lateran Obelisk, originally at Karnak but now in Rome, it would have weighed over 2.3 million pounds and would have been the worlds largest piece of stone ever handled. However, a crack in the stone occurred, which caused it to be abandoned. Tools left by it's builders have given us much insight into how such work was performed. The site has recently been renovated and equipped with tourist facilities. Nearby is the Fatimid Cemetery.
The Temple of Philae
Philae temple was dismantled and reassembled (on Agilika Island about 550 meters from its original home on Philae Island) in the wake of the High Dam. The temple, dedicated to the goddess Isis, is in a beautiful setting which has been landscaped to match its original site. It's various shrines and sanctuaries, which include The Vestibule of Nectanebos I which is used as the entrance to the island, the Temple of the Emperor Hadrian, a Temple of Hathor, Trajan's Kiosk (Pharaohs Bed), a birth house and two pylons celebrate all the deities involved in the Isis and Osiris myth. The Victorian world fell in love with the romance of the Temple. But at night you can also visit the Sound and Light Show, a magical experience as floodlit buildings are silhouetted against the volcanic rocks and water surrounding them. So today, Philae is more fun then every before.
The High Dam
Located near Aswan, the world famous High Dam was an engineering miracle when it was built in the 1960s. Today it provides irrigation and electricity for the whole of Egypt and, together with the old Aswan Dam built by the British between 1898 and 1902', 6km down river, wonderful views for visitors. From the top of the two Mile long High Dam you can gaze across Lake Nassar, the huge reservoir created when it was built, to Kalabsha temple in the south and the huge power station to the north.
Cairo offers an incredible selection of shopping, leisure, culture and nightlife. Shopping ranges from the famous Khan el-Khalily souk, (bazaar) keeping its image unchanged since the 14th century, to modern air-conditioned centers displaying the latest fashions. All the bounty of the East is here - particularly good buys are spices, perfumes, gold, silver, carpets, brass and copperware, leatherwork, glass and ceramics . The famous street markets, like Wekala al-Balaq, for fabrics, including Egyptian cotton, the Tentmakers Bazaar for appliqué-work, Mohammed Ali Street for musical instruments and, although you probably won't want to buy, the Camel Market makes a fascinating trip.
The Giza Zoo and the Botanical Gardens. A trip on the Nile in a felucca or ride on horseback from the Giza Pyramids to Sakkara. For a day trip outside Cairo visit Haraniya village and see the beautiful tapestries and weaving produced by local people. Cairo Tower, a modern 187 meter-high tower with views of the city from all sides, topped by a revolving restaurant.
Cairo comes alive at night, which is the best time to shop, eat delicious Middle East cuisine, A dinner in a floating restaurant on the Nile, Smoking an apple-flavored shisha waterpipe at a coffee-shop or see oriental dancers and cabarets at a luxury hotel. The splendid Opera House complex houses several galleries (including the Museum of Modern Art), restaurants and concert halls. Listening to Arabic music under the stars, in the open-air theater, is a magical experience. At El-Ghuriya, in the heart of Islamic Cairo, you can watch folk musicians and whirling dervish dancers. And don't forget the most essential after-dark experience, the Sound and Light show at the Pyramids, a dramatic fusion of light and music recounting the story of antiquity.
There are three, built by Cheops, Chepren and Mycerinos, the largest being over 137m (450ft) high and containing some three million huge blocks of stone.
In a depression to the south of Chephren's Pyramid sits a creature with a human head and a lion's body. The sphinx appears to have started in Egypt in the form of a sun god. The sphinx is usually a head of a king wearing his head dress and the body of a lion. The Great Sphinx is to the north east of Chephren's Valley Temple. Where it sits was once a quarry. Chephren's workers shaped the stone into the lion and gave it their king's face over 4,500 years ago. The sphinx faces the rising sun with a temple to the front, which resembles the sun temples, which were built later by the kings of the 5th Dynasty.
The body is 60m in length and 20m tall. The face of the sphinx is 4m wide and its eyes are 2m high. Part of the uraeus (sacred obra), the nose and the ritual beard are now missing. The beard from the sphinx is displayed in the British Museum.
It is possible that it is Chephren. If that is so, it would then be the oldest known royal portrait in such large scale.
The vast royal and civil necropolis of the former Empire spreads on 8-km long and 2-km large in the west of Memphis and to 40 km to the south of Cairo. It shelters the famous pyramid to degrees of Pharaon Djoser constructs by architect Imhotep. It is the most former pyramid and for the first time, the stone is used. Saqqarah, it is also many Egyptian dignitary tombs decorated of painted low reliefs that provided an inexhaustible source of information on the daily life in Egypt in the time of the Pharaons.
Of the very former capital of the former Empire, Mennof Rê named Memphis by the Greeks, that spread on 15 km of Guizeh in Saqqarah, it remains only few traces. Its decline began with the creation of Alexandria, the new capital. In 391, the edict of Théodose orders the closing of the temples. The destruction of the city begins and the Moslem conquerors use the stones of the monuments to construct their palaces and their mosques. On this site, the giants of Ramsès II have been discovered. One of them is exposed there, the other is on the place from the station to Cairo, the Ramsès place.
The Egyptian Museum
One of the world's most famous museums contains the largest, and one of the most impressive, collections of Pharaonic and Byzantine art and sculpture from the surrounding area. The magnificent collection of Antiquities includes the priceless treasures from Tutankhamun's Tomb, The Mummies, Sarcophagi…..
Coptic Cairo and Hanging Church
Coptic (Christian) Cairo is home to the famous hanging church, which originates from the 4th century and was rebuilt in the 9th century, over the ruins of the Fortress of Babylon, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Church of St. Sergius, Church of St. Bacchus, which is a 5th century basilica, built over a grotto where the holy Family is stayed.
The Church of St Mercurius, the Convent of St. George and The Coptic Museum where you can find the finest collection of Coptic art and antiquities in the world.
Mohamed Ali Mosque
Built between 1830-1848, also referred to as The Alabaster Mosque, is situated at the Citadel of Salah El Din.
One of Cairo's most popular tourist attraction, located on a spur of limestone and provides a panoramic view of Cairo from the Moqattam Hills. The Citadel was not a great military base of operations, but as the "Dome of the Wind", a pavilion created in 810 by Hatim Ibn Hartama, In 1176, Salah ad-Din fortified the area to protect it against attacks by the Crusaders, and since then, it has never been without a military garrison.
The Citadel actually consists of three main sections, surrounded by their own walls with towers and gates. These consist of the Lower Enclosure (El-Azab), the Northern Enclosure (El-Ankishariya) and the Southern Enclosure which is the Citadel proper (El-Qal'a). The two main gates are on the north (Bab el-Gadid) and south (Bab el-Gabal). Particularly when viewed from the back side (from the north), the Citadel reveals a very medieval character.
Khan-el-Khalili Bazaar, where one can bargain for traditional leatherwork, brassware and excellent inexpensive tailor-made clothing. It is set in an area of narrow winding streets where the local inhabitants will always approach the traveller in the hope of doing a little business.
This market is situated at one corner of a triangle of markets that go south to Bab Zuwayla and west to Azbakiyyah. The Khan is bordered on the south by al-Azhar Street and on the west by the Muski Market.
Luxor, once the ancient capital of Thebes, now has the most spectacular collection of antiquities in the world. It is the greatest open-air museum in the world, filled with monuments of ancient civilisation. The town it self is centred on the remains of Luxor and Karnak Temples.
Where shadows of sunset through the city of the dead are the tombs of the Nobles, the Valley of the Kings and Queen Hatshepsut’s Temples. King Tutankhamen’s tomb is the most famous tomb in the Valley of the Kings, and Queen Hatshepsut was the only woman rule over Egypt as a Pharaon.
The Tombs of Nobles
The northern hills of the West Bank are filled with rock-carved tombs of Princes dating from the Old Kingdom to the Roman period. At night they are illuminated with concealed spot light and can be seen from Aswan.
Colossi of Memnon
Amenhotep III (18th Dyn) built a mortuary temple in Thebes that was guarded by two gigantic statues on the outer gates. All that remains now are the 19.5m statues of Amenhotep. Though damaged by nature and ancient tourists, the statues are still impressive. Long after Amenhotep the Greeks decided that the statue represented their hero, Memnon, son of Tithonus, and Eos, who fought in defense of Troy and was slain by Achilles. The north statues, of Amenhotep's mother Mutemuia and Queen Tiy, were shattered by an earthquake. The fallen remains produced a musical sound under certain weather conditions. The Eqyptians thought that this music came directly from the gods. To be granted a song meant that you were very much in favor of the gods. Visitors came from miles around to hear the music, including Emperor Hadrian, in 130 A.D. The music stopped in 199 A.D. when the statue was repaired.
East bank of the Nile, in the city of the living, the Luxor temple and Karnak temples designed in old centuries to greet the sunrise.
The Temple of Karnak is built on a massive scale, covering one hundred acres. It is actually three main temples, smaller enclosed temples, and several outer temples. This vast complex was built and enlarged over a thirteen hundred years period. The three main temples of Mut, Monthu and Amun are enclosed by enormous brick walls
Hurghada was founded in the early 20th century, and until a few years ago, remained a small fishing village. But today, it has gone on to become the foremost tourist resort of the Red Sea coast and an international center for aquatic sports. If it takes place in or on the water you can do it here: windsurfing, sailing, deep-sea fishing, swimming, but, above all, snorkeling and diving. The unique underwater gardens offshore are some of the finest in the world, justifiably famous amongst divers. The warm waters here are ideal for many varieties of rare fish and coral reefs, which may also be observed through glass bottom boats. This area has many fine accommodations, usually offering warm and efficient service. Restaurants are mostly along the main road. While in Hurghada, don't miss the museum and aquarium, with their complete collections of flora and fauna of the Red Sea.
Today, Hurghada is known as a party town, particularly among Europeans. Locals and others will tell you that life begins at night in Hurghada, with the many, many clubs. They are particularly frequented by the young, but certainly many others of all ages. One may often find a rousing party centered around the visitors from a tour group taking over the action of a particular bar. They are easy to find along the main street, along with loads of inexpensive and expensive hotels.
One of the Local Evening Hot Spots just a bit still too Early
Small Pubs, Restaurants and Internet Cafes line the Main Street as well as around the McDonald’s Restaurant near the Helnan Regina hotel .
It is also a beach resort, where thousands of older Europeans and others come with their families to enjoy the sun and fun of private resort beaches, some all inclusive. Many of these hotels offer so many activities and facilities that one may never need to leave the resort. Often, the larger resorts have zoos, playgrounds, discos, bars, a number of pools and even small theaters.
Hurghada is also a city under development. Many new hotels and construction are taking place, and we can expect to see some great new hotels, restaurants and other facilities in the near future. Actually this is a busy section of the Red Sea in general. Safaga is just south of Hurghada, and Soma Bay with its beautiful Sheraton is even closer to the South. To the North is El Gouna, a highly organized resort community. Together, these communities and resort areas offer just about everything a visitor might wish for, from raucous parties to isolated scuba diving, with golf, bowling and fishing in between.
Islands near Hurghada offer all kinds of fun and excitement. Take a day trip to Giftun Island for snorkeling and a fish barbecue, or view the Red Sea from a submarine! When you're not in the sea you can shop in the boutiques, relax in the luxury holiday villages or visit the Roman Mons Porphyrites (mountain of porphyry) remains at nearby Gebel Abu Dukhan (Father of Smoke). Day-trips or safaris to explore the Red Sea Mountains by camel or jeep are also available. Other nearby islands and destinations include the Shadwan Island (Diving, snorkeling, fishing but no swimming), Shaab Abu Shiban (Diving, snorkeling and swimming), Shaab el-Erg (Diving, fishing and snorkeling), Umm Gammar Island (Diving and snorkeling), Shasb Saghir Umm Gammae (Diving), Careless Reef (Diving), Abu Ramada Island (Diving), Shaab Abu Ramada (Fishing), Dishet el-Dhaba (Beaches and swimming), Shaab Abu Hashish (Beaches, diving, snorkeling, swimming and fishing), Sharm el-Arab (Diving, swimming and fishing and Abu Minqar Island (Beaches and swimming).
Located 22 Km (12 1/2) north of Hurghada under the silhouettes of sharp edged mountains and bordering the crystal waters of the Red Sea lies El Gouna, the region's most exclusive destination. Built on clusters of islands surrounded by turquoise lagoons, El Gouna spreads over 11 kilometers of the most pristine beachfront.
El Gouna seems to have something for everyone including secluded beaches and exclusive hotels for those seeking the getaway holidays, desert safaris and the world's best diving for the more adventurous, endless in-house entertainment for those traveling with the family, and a great night life for the wild at heart.
El Gouna began with a romantic vision: friends, boats and a passion for the sea.. What started out as a dream and a small marina evolved into a fully comprehensive resort, with Egypt's most luxurious villas, internationally renowned hotels, a wide range of picturesque restaurants and a vibrant, bustling village.
And yet from a resort, El Gouna was to evolve even further - into a town with a life and soul of its own. El Gouna is no longer simply a tourist destination but a town attracting visitors and residents from all parts of the world. Private businesses are thriving, from the boutique and restaurant owner, to those investing in El Gouna's industrial sector which includes a brewery, a winery and a water bottling company. Although difficult to imagine, El gouna's growth has been carefully planned with beauty and functionality as its top priorities.
In spite of having grown into a self-sufficient town resort with powerful infrastructure and extensive community support facilities, El Gouna has done so with great care for its surroundings. El Gouna was recently awarded the "most environmentally friendly resort in Egypt" for its endless efforts in this area.
El Gouna has grown into a diverse community where the initial spontaneity and sense of adventure continue to live on.
Kafr El Gouna : The Kafr is the heartbeat of El Gouna; a town center with endless activity during the day and few hours of sleep at night. It is here that guests and residents come together.
Set on an island, this town center is built in the traditional Egyptian style of inner courtyards, endless alleys and rolling domes. The subtle tones of the Kafr's pastel colored buildings give a spectacular contrast to the bright turquoise of its surrounding lagoons.
The Kafr provides everything one would expect of a lively downtown area; colorful shops, art galleries, cafes, a wide selection of restaurants from local delicacies to fine French and Italian dinning, bars, discotheques, a cinema as well as the more practical services such as a school, travel agencies and a post office.
Safaga, is a working port located 60 KM south Hurghada with several tourist villages specializing in diving holidays, a handful of hotels and some excellent fish restaurants. Its unspoiled beaches and stiff breezes made it the ideal venue for the 1993 World Windsurfing Championships. Day trips to Tobia Island or Mons Claudianus in the Red Sea Mountains can be arranged with local guides .
Sharm El Sheikh
Sharm el-Sheikh, one of the most accessible and developed tourist resort communities on the Sinai peninsula. All around are Bedouins, colorful tents, mountains and sea. There are small, intimate hotels with modern designs, as well as larger hotel complexes belonging to International chains, plus about all the amenities one could expect of a tourist center, including casinos, discos and nightclubs, golf courses and health facilities. In fact, with diving and snorkeling, windsurfing and other water sports, horses and camel riding, desert safaris, and great nearby antiquities attractions, it is almost impossible for a visitor to ever suffer from boredom.
Four miles south the southern section of the town stands on a cliff overlooking the port. and is a great view.
Na'ama Beach is one of the center of the tourist activities. Located just north of Sharm, this area is developing into a resort town of its own. Most hotels at Na'ama Bay have their own, private beaches with comfortable amenities such as chairs, shades and even bars.
Shark's Bay is also nearby, and again is a growing resort community with more and more to offer, along with several diving centers.
The small harbor known as Sharm el-Moiya is located next to the civil harbor, has accommodations for boats, and includes a Yacht Club with rooms.
For those who live to shop, the Sharm El-Sheikh mall provides shops with both foreign and local products, including jewelry, leather goods, clothing, pottery and books.
It has been said that this is a must visit for all diving enthusiasts. There are many diving sites along the 10 mile beach between Sharm el-Sheikh and Ras Nusrani.
Ismailia really has no real monuments of ancient times to see. It was founded in 1860 by the Pasha Ismail who was the Khedive during the construction of the Suez Canal. However, it is a pleasant city of 300,000 people and has some beautiful old villas.
The city is clearly divided by Sharia Sultan Hussein (street). One one side (east) the city is very peaceful and quite, while on the other side is a huge urban area.
There are several good beaches in the area around Lake Timsah (Crocodile Lake, but don't worry) about seven miles southeast of the city, which has several hotels and clubs about.
The origins of Port Said is that of a working camp founded in 1859 by Said Pasha to house men working on the Suez Canal. By the late 19th century, it was an important port where all the major maritime powers had consulates. Much of the city was built on a section of Lake Manzala which was reclaimed by landfill.
The City was damaged during the Suez Crisis, and again during the wars of 1967 and 1973, but the city has largely been rebuilt and today is a pleasant city of 400,00 people. It is also considered a summer resort by Egyptians and the beach is lined with vacation bungalows. The main street, with most commercial enterprises, is Sharia Palestine.
This is where the huge ships wait to enter the Suez Canal, and it can be a sight to behold. But also often missed, but of interest is the colonial architecture of the 19th century in the town center.
There is a National Museum in Port Said, which houses artifacts from most periods of Egypt's past, including pharaonic and prehistoric. Located on Sharia Palestine, the museum also houses Islamic and Coptic exhibits, including textiles, manuscripts and coins. There is a also a room devoted to artifacts of the Khedival family.
There is also a Military Museum located on Sharia 23rd of July. Along with some small displays of pharaonic and Islamic wars are artifacts from the Suez Crises and the 1967 and 1973 wars.
Across the Canal from Port Said is Port Fuad, which is really only a bedroom community to Port Said. However, if time permits is is a very pleasant place to take a stroll among the gardens and sprawling residences located there.
So what does New York and Port Said, Egypt have in common? Originally, American's very own statue of Liberty was to be placed not in New York but at Port Said. The Statue of Liberty was really inspired by the huge statues at Abu Simbel. Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor of the statue designed the American Lady of Liberty as 'Egypt carrying the light of Asia'. However, the Khedive Ismail decided that the project was too expensive, so the 'Light of Asia' was sent to the US instead, where she became the Statue of Liberty.
Set in a depression covering over 2000 sq. km., Bahariya Oasis is surrounded by black hills made up of ferruginous quartzite and dolorite. Most of the villages and cultivated land can be viewed from the top of the 50-meter-high Jebel al-Mi'ysrah, together with the massive dunes which threaten to engulf some of the older settlements. The Oasis was a major agricultural center during the Pharaonic era, and has been famous for its wine as far back as the Middle Kingdom. During the fourth century, the absence of Roman rule and violent tribes in the area caused a decline as some of the oasis was reclaimed by the sand. Wildlife is plentiful, especially birds such as wheatears; crops (which only cover a small percentage of the total area) include dates, olives, apricots, rice and corn.
There are a number of springs in the area, some very hot, such as Bir ar-Ramla but probably the best is Bir al-Ghaba, about 10 miles north east of Bawiti. There is also Bir al-Mattar, a cold springs which poors into a concrete pool. Otherwise near the Oasis is the Black and White deserts, though traveling to the White desert seems not practical from the oasis. The Black Desert was formed through wind erosion as the nearby volcanic mountains were spewed over the desert floor. Finally, there are the ruins of a 17th Dynasty temple and settlement, and nearby tombs where birds were buried.
Farafra, known as Ta-iht or the Land of the Cow in pharaonic times, is a single village. The most isolated of the New Valley Oases it is renowned for its strong traditions and piety. According to folklore, the villagers once lost track of time and had to send a rider to Dakhla so they could hold the Friday prayers on the right day. The oldest part of the village, on a hillside, is next to peaceful walled palm groves; a short ride away there are hot sulphur springs at Bir Setta and swimming at El-Mufid Lake.
Mostly inhabited by Bedouins, the small mud-brick houses all have wooden doorways with medieval peg locks. As in other oases, many of Farafra's houses are painted blue (to ward off the Evil Eye) but here some are also decorated with landscapes, birds and animals, the handiwork of local artist, Badr. A combination house, museum and studio exhibiting his paintings and ceramics is situated in a garden full of sculptures made from objects found in the surrounding desert. Another local, known as Mr. Socks, sells beautiful hand-knitted camel-hair sweaters, socks and scarves. Day trips by jeep and camel treks from here to the White Desert, Bahariya, Dakhla and Siwa can be arranged through Saad's Restaurant.
The Dakhla Oasis lies to the northwest of Kharga and is also about 310 km to the southeast of Farafra. This oasis consists of 14 settlements and has a population of about 70,000 people. Dakhla is the farthest oasis out of Cairo and is considered one of Egypt's most beautiful oasis. Dakhla sits in a depression surrounded by pink cliffs. There are about 30,000 acres of cultivated land. Most of its 70,000 or so residents are farmers who constantly fight the battle of the dunes that threaten their fields and orchards. The fields and gardens are filled mostly with mulberry trees, date palms, figs and other citrus fruits. Dakhla has retained most of its culture and charm even though it has increased in size by about double and government funding and technical training has revitalized the economy. Dakhla is the only place in Egypt where new water wheels which are driven by buffaloes are constructed. They are made of palm timber and clay jars and are called saqiyas. The oasis is connected to Kharga by a 120 mile (200 km) road that has buses running daily. Research has found that the Oasis has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and that there was once a huge lake here. There are neolithic rock paintings that indicate that the lake was frequented by elephants, buffaloes and ostriches. As the lake dried up, the inhabitants migrated to the Nile valley and were probably some of its first settlers.
Dakhla Oasis is dominated on its northern horizon by a wall of rose-Colored rock. Fertile cultivated areas growing rice, peanuts and fruit are dotted between sand dunes along the roads from Farafra and Kharga in this area of outstanding natural beauty. The capital, Mut, named after the ancient goddess of the Theban Triad, houses the Museum of the Inheritance, a traditional house, with an intricate wooden combination lock. Rooms, with sculpted clay figures, are arranged to show different aspects of Dakhlan culture and family life. Al-Kasr, about 35 km. from Mut, was originally a Roman settlement which later became the medieval capital of Dakhla. The old town is a labyrinth of mud-walled alleys narrowly separating houses with elaborately- carved wooden lintels; there is also an Ayyubid mosque. Climb to the rooftop of the 10th century madrassa (school) for wonderful views of the surrounding area. Bir al-Gabel, a palm-fringed salt lake where you can camp and picnic, is on the road back to Mut.
Other day trips from Mut could include the 1st-century al-Muzawaka tombs and Deir al Hagar, a te