We got up early on our last day in Cairo and met up with Sayed – our transitional rep – for our drive though the Sinai desert to Dahab. Sayed had two drivers for the minibus with him as Health and Safety (Egypt branch) dictated that drivers can only drive for four hours at a stretch and the trip was estimated up to eight hours (yeah, right!)
The trip was actually fairly uneventful taking over an hour to get out of Cairo and then largely involving hundreds of miles of desert roads. It was however quite exciting driving through the tunnel under the Suez canal. Oh yes, and we got a rear flat tyre in the middle of nowhere which wasn’t much fun. For starters the wheel wouldn’t come off the axle as it was too hot so we sat by the side of the road waiting for it to cool down. Thoughts of proceeding on camel crossed our minds but sadly no Bedouins or Lawrence of Arabia types came to our rescue.
Once we got those wing-nuts loosened, the wheel changed and everything tightened up we were on our way again - passing through a total of nine security checkpoints en route. At each one the driver would gesture his thumb back at us and say, “English”. The armed checkpoint guards seemed happy with this simple explanation and we were waved through.
Apparently American tourists are obliged to have a security guard with them at all times. The English are considered harmless and less of a kidnap threat I guess.
After nearly nine hours we were finally in Dahab. At a petrol station the local rep Sami joined the merry throng in the van. Budge up everyone. He seemed a nice enough guy and after Sayed and his drivers had all been suitably tipped, we were dropped off at the rather posh Le Meridien hotel to settle in and shower and change.
Our room seemed pretty fabulous (more of that later) with a sea view and we arranged to meet up with Sami early evening so he could show us around downtown Dahab.
We sussed out the best places to buy beer and settled upon the rather touristy Ali Baba restaurant on the front to eat - surrounded by cats, flashing lights, Bedouin kids begging and our rep playing gooseberry. The food was fine – only fine mind you – but we didn’t hang around too long. We fancied an early night.