Showing posts with label Dahab. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dahab. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hotel of the Day - Le Meridien Dahab

Hotel of the day is a new section that I am going to mess with.  I am plotting launching a larger site, and I am going to test out some of the future site's content here.  On the future site, I will have reoccurring content, and one of the features will be profiling a hotel every day.

For my first hotel of the day, I have to give a huge nod to the Le Meridien Dahab on the Sinai Peninsula in Dahab, Egypt.  As tired a metaphor as it is, I must liken this place to an oasis.  It literally is.

The Sinai Peninsula boasts 2 features, desert sprawl and rocky mountains.  It probably looks more like our conception of Mars than the real Mars could ever hope to be.  On the east coast of the Sinai Peninsula, is the Red Sea, separating Egypt from Saudi Arabia and Jordan.  Lining the Red Sea coast are a number of resort towns and Bedouin (desert nomads) villages.  The primary resort area on Sinai Peninsula is at the southern tip in Sharm el' Sheikh.  This city has an international airport and is the most populous city on the peninsula.  Some of the best diving in the world can be found in this area at Raz Mohammad National Park.  About an hour or two north of Sharm el' Sheikh (or "Sharm") is the quiet town of Dahab.

Dahab is almost perfect.  It is cheap.  The beaches are torn straight out of the Thai playbook, the food is surprisingly delicious, and the Egyptians are hospitable and kind.  The snorkeling is world class.  Want to take a road-trip to Jerusalem or Jordan, you can also do that from here.  Aside from these praises, Dahab also possesses an atmospheric variable that makes it one of my favorite places ever.  It is the chillest place I have ever been.  Ever.  Very very very laid back.  I always have an insane desire to do as much shit as possible while traveling internationally.  In Dahab, I had to be coaxed out of my sunning chair with promises of Egyptian sheesha and homemade hummus.

In the southern area of Dahab is the Le Meridien Dahab compound.  Gorgeous manicured lawns, multiple pools, plently of beach real estate, and offshore reefs to explore contribute to make this place a real stunner.  It is ideal for quasi adventurous family types not completely hellbent on the idea of independently exploring, but that may want to entertain the notion on a whim.  It is beautiful, with western amenities and food, and if you get the itch to explore Mt. Sinai, Jordan, or some Bedouin settlements, then you can easily arrange 5 star transit and guides through the hotel that will be safe and pleasant.  Essentially, places like this serve the function for individuals that want to dip a toe in to experience Egypt, but want to retain creature comforts and a luxrious home base to dine and lounge.

Some random Tidbits

Rooms right now are about $100 per night.  We went in February and paid about $40 per night.  It is possible to get insanely good deals.  It is a very nice resort.  

This resort is very 5 star.  The rooms have ocean view patios, jacuzzi baths, outdoor and indoor showers, and flat-screen televisions.  The food is decent, but not excellent.  We had better food in Dahab at restaurants.

The beach is the best we experienced in Dahab, but lacked the authentic vibe of beaches in Dahab proper.  The guests are primarily wealthy Europeans.

           A room

 View from our patio 

 Lawn chairs 

 Hotel Grounds

 Pool with Saudi Arabia in the background 

 The grounds are very well kept 

 Kristin on the golden beach, Dahab means gold 
 Year round sun 

 In our pod 

 A shot of the multiple pools 

 Front of resort 



 Our room 

 Outdoor Shower 

 Entrance at night

 The main airport of the region is at the tip of the peninsula in Sharm el' Sheikh.  You can fly there on easyjet from London, on Egyptair from Cairo, and also from Rome on Egyptair or Alitalia.      

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Some things we take for granted.  Sometimes we have everything we need and focus instead on what we want.  It is human nature to stare out at the future when idle and secure.  That did not happen to us once today.  This is an Egypt that I did not know existed.  Dahab provides enough to keep you firmly in the moment.  From its sun splashed beaches to its amazing Egyptian hospitality, you can never want for anything more.  For someone like me, that needs to constantly be doing something, it seemed unnatural to just lay around for hours, staring out at Saudi Arabia on the horizon, but I did just that. 

The morning broke and after filling ourselves with breakfast delights and lounging around on the beach for hours, we called for transport.  Our anonymous driver pulled up in front of our hotel, the passenger window squeaked down, "Kreesteen?"  It was Hazim, a driver from the other evening.

Hazim begins driving us to the main stretch of Dahab.  One thing that is a little unpleasant, yet probably a strong positive about Egypt, is armed checkpoints are everywhere.  This is understandable in the largest Arab Muslim country in the world, with most of the world's known terrorists coming from a Muslim background.  When you really meet average Muslims and your exposure is not limited to a bunch of unpronounceable names following an atrocity, you realize that no group probably has a harder time overcoming stereotypes, and they are fairly normal people.  Muslims in general are probably no more racist than Italians and not near as crazy as Christian fundamentalists.   Anyways, the checkpoints were the only evidence that we noted of an unseen insurgency lurking in the shadows, reciting vows of purpose.  

When we arrived in the city, we walked into a restaurant called Penguin, named such probably because it was so chill.  We took the stairs up to the roof, and found a table to sit around.  The seating was a ton of pillows surrounding a low table.  Something about this place just made us want to take it down several gears.  We ended up eating a plate of fresh hot pita type bread with assorted dips, kebabs, and green coconut curry.  Our new wild cat friends prowled the grounds begging for scraps (and sometimes just taking them).  We were given a spray bottle of water to fend off our little feline friends, but we were hesitant to use it at first.  Word probably spread, as at one point, we peeked under our table and found about 5 cats biding their time before our inevitable slip up. We gave these cats tomatoes and green peppers, and they loved them.  Our server came over and told us a story about a German man a few weeks ago, who gave a cat a banana pancake, pet him, and then tossed him over his shoulder into the red sea.  

We ended up just lounging on this rooftop deck with panoramic views of Saudi Arabia and Jordan for a couple hours.  We took in some sun, brushed up on our Arabic, took lots of pictures, and ate some banana pancakes.

 We walked down the main strip, beating off touts, and eventually came upon a small store with buckets of herbs out front and hundreds of bottles lining the walls.  We entered.  Our new host, Ishmael, poured us Bedouin tea which is really great tasting, and we began to discuss our various ailments.  All of the bottles lining the walls were fragrances, though not the typical variety we usually encounter in the west.  These bottles were filled with essences, no alcohol, so the smell really lasts and is better for the skin.  He explained that to obtain the essence of lavender, you must take the flowers, bury them, let them rest in the earth for 90 days, and then they make the essence. We were given a mixture of musk and amber to rub on our hands rapidly and smell with two deep sniffs to calm us.  A mixture of mint and eucalyptus was mixed in a piping hot glass, and when inhaled, completely cleared out our sinuses.  We rubbed Bedouin oils on our tired legs, and aloe vera on Kristin's sunburn.  We bought a variety of essences and some serious tea.  We really hope this stuff does not get seized when traveling back.

We walked further down the beach, passing hippies playing the guitar and a football match on the street.  We met a friend name Mohammad, who is going to have a real Bedouin head scarf made for me tomorrow.  We ate at the Funny Mummy in a room full of people eating and drinking on the floor with the walls covered in rugs.  A cat stealthed up and stole Kristin's chicken.  We laughed and returned to the Penguin to smoke some shisha next to a coal fire, and cap off our night with an assortment of fresh fruit drinks.  

 Out our front door

 Hotel grounds

 Did I mention that this place was very cheap?

 About the price of a Super 8 in Texas if you now how to look

 Walk to breakfast

 Passed some flowers

 This water is very abundant in reef life, and I tried to get in.  I got a really bad cold in Italy, and realized almost immediately that I needed to turn back.

 The Mountains are really like nothing I have ever seen before, just pure rock

 We hung out on the beach for a few hours after breakfast

 Different color of gold sand here

 Kristin peeking in our pod

 Up the beach

 I just kind of sat in here for a few hours, so uncharacteristic 

 Beautiful water

 lots of pools

 Bright desert sun

 Our lunch view

 Eating Lunch at Penguin Restaurant

Lots of places to chill and eat up and down the coast

BC - Before cats

Stella is the ubiquitous cheap local beer in Dahab
The cats catch wind of our starter

Fresh Pita bread with a bunch of dips (hummus, babbagonoush, etc)

2 of them in this picture, creeping onto the scene

What up cat, hiding under the table

Camo cat, blending in with my pants and the shadows

Biding his time, preparing to make off with an onion or two

Green Chicken Coconut Curry

Shish Taawook

We were given these to fend off the cats,  but this one had built up an immunity to it, even cozying up next to the water spray at one point in an act of utmost defiance

Photo Op

Relaxing after lunch

Banana Pancakes for dessert

The water off the coast is very clear and abundant with marine life.  We were going to dive, but a head cold has kept me out of the water for the most part.

Saudi Arabia across the gulf of Aqaba

Egyptian Sun 



Cat fight

No camels or horses on the street here

A view across the small crescent shaped bay, where in the 80s, hippie expats set up an idyllic base alongside a Bedouin village 

The Dahab market

An assortment of teas


Ishmael giving Kristin and I Bedouin tea

clearing the nose for a different smell

Mixing it up, I believe our buddy is making a restful concoction here

View from the store out to sea

Dog fight

Nearing sunset, we took a walk north

The harbor from the other side

Kristin trying to stay on this strange blue inflatable pier

A game of football in the street

A Dahab home on the beach, beachfront property is definitely cheap here

Lots of room for improvement 

Inventive use of broken bottles to keep intruders out, but why would anyone want in?

Dusk approaching

Walking back to eat dinner

Love the color in this picture 

Shisha bowls

Some dried leaves 

Ishmael asked to photgraph him next to his store

Manning the shop

Getting masked up

Stray dog

Some fresh lobsters


A couple of rowdy chefs

A fire with dinner

Eating at Funny Mummy

Some kind of chicken stir fry 

Chicken Fajita 

Very cool dining atmosphere

The Facade of Funny Mummy 

Puff up nerd