We left Gatwick on time in a very cramped plane – I'm no expert but I think it was a 757 – two sets of three seats across and a narrow aisle! Things didn't start too well when John felt water dripping on his shoulder from a panel above his head. The crew were fantastic and promptly placed tissues in the offending area and explained that it was due to condensation from the air conditioning unit.
We landed in Sharm El Shaikh about 5pm local time and were amazed at how quickly the sun went down – no twilight, straight to night. The Egyptian authorities were very hot on paperwork in preparation for entry to the country – we had to fill in about three forms before we even entered the airport – only for the security guys to throw them all into a big box without looking at them!
The ship wasn't a patch on the other two that we have been on this year but it was OK – we made the wrong choice of cabin by choosing deck three which was incredibly noisy – very close to the engines plus a tortuous noise coming from the fittings in the cabin caused by the vibration. It was like Chinese water torture! Just as you thought the noise had stopped another one started! Never mind – got used to it by Tuesday!
Our intention was for this holiday to be a total chill in readiness for the Great British winter so with that in mind on Saturday we took a coach trip to Petra in Jordan (please click the link – I can't do it justice with my description) what an absolutely amazing place – it needs to be added to everybody's list of places to visit before you die along with the Grand Canyon. To think that the ground we walked on had been walked on in biblical times was absolutely incredible. The coach stopped a few miles before we reached Petra and I took this photo – you see the white speck on top of the mountain? That is the tomb of Moses' brother, Aaron!
After a day at sea we arrived at Port Sokhna for our transfer to Cairo and Nile River trip followed by a 'Sound and Light' show at the pyramids of Giza (again, please click on the link). The abject poverty of the people living along the banks of the Nile was something that I hadn't expected, the photos below show the shacks that people were living in along with a beautiful sunset and the feluccas ferrying people (and an Ox which I wasn't quick enough to capture on camera!) across the river.
So much for our relaxing time! Next day was a trip described as 'Shopping and Show' in the resort of Hurghada - not my idea of shopping! Constantly pestered by young Egyptians who were desperate for you to go into their shops and buy their tacky souvenirs, it was the equivalent of walking round a Spanish market back in the eighties! When they realised we were English they have to practice 'How Now Brown Cow', 'Loverly Jubbly' and bizarrely 'Asda Price'!!!
On to the show which was, erm, interesting to say the least. Started with a belly dancer, followed by some bloke twirling for ever (apparently telling a folk story but nobody knew!), a snake charmer and some bloke who ate fire, laid on a bed of nails and walked on broken glass! Not the best value for money trip we chose.
Sadly the next day we were unable to go on our planned trip because John had succumbed to a stomach bug and had to see the ship's doctor – he was quarantined in the cabin for 24 hours, which gave me the perfect excuse for a day on deck on my own with a book (more to come re books separately!!) The ship sent in a special cleaning team to deep clean the cabin – the poor guys arrived with overalls and masks looking very embarrassed, they removed the curtains, bed trims and proceeded to fumigate the cabin while poor John sat there watching – actually a very impressive effort!
That takes us to Thursday and departure day. We were very impressed that we were able, for a small fee, to keep our cabin right up until we left the ship at 3pm, that's the best disembarkation we've experienced so far – very relaxed no need to rush and we got the benefit of almost a whole day that we hadn't expected.
Sharm airport for departure was an experience – we queued outside to even get into the terminal building and had to put our cases through the x-ray machine before we even reached the check in desk! Better to be safe than sorry. On to the plane and I bet you can't guess what happened? Well, if I tell you we had the same seats on the plane as on the way out...yep, got it in one! This time, however, the cabin crew were not so considerate and I thought at one stage I thought I was going to have to restrain John especially when the 'Customer Experience Manager' told him to 'lay off the crew' – I feel another letter of complaint coming on – wonder if Thomson will read this, I have noticed that they have visited since the last little problem!
I'll post more pictures via Facebook soon – these are just a few to be getting on with – thanks for looking!