Paul Theroux once said, “Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.” Traveling, and more specifically budget traveling, can and will take its toll over extended trips. Long lines, crowded buses, haggling with everyone you meet—this can wear one down until the idea of another day on the road seems almost unbearable, and thoughts begin to spring up like:
“Enough already; I’ve had it! I’m not getting on another bus—Ever! I’ve got dust in my eyes and sand in my a…” ah, you get the picture.
Hey, even backpackers get the blues, and if you’re traveling in the Middle East, there are few better places to rest up and recharge than Sharm el Sheikh.
This tourist boomtown is located at the Southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, near Jordan, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, and overlooks the Island of Tiran. It’s not hard to understand why Sharm el Sheikh Holidays are so desirable. The natural beauty of the place is the allure, with blues skies, palm trees, and the mountains of Sinai flowing down into spectacular coral reefs of the Red Sea.
The town bears little resemblance to the small tent speckled fishing village of a few decades ago. Divers were the first sorts of tourists to arrive on the scene, taking in the numberous wreck sites, and coral reefs, but they required little in the way of accomadations.
Sharm el Sheikh remained relatively unknown, until 1967, when Israel gained control of the area. They built up towns, restaurants, and hotels; setting the groundwork for what was to come. When the Egyptians regained control in 1982 the government began to paint the place as the Red Sea Riviera. The efforts have paid off.
It’s said that Sharm el Sheikh hosts over 30 percent of all the hotels in the country—from luxury hotels and resorts to Budget hostels for the beleaguered backpacker.
The downtown is lively, with bright lights, shopping centers, and even bars and pubs; though it would be wise to keep in mind, for the budget traveler, that this is still an Islamic society, so drinks tend to be pricey.
Outdoor activities a plenty—there are camel rides, horse rides, and safari treks; hiking in the Ras Mohammed National park, scuba diving, shopping for Bedouin arts and crafts, golf, and even ice-skating. In the plethora of activities, fishermen seem to be the unlucky bunch, as this activity is not allowed in the area.
The city has also become known as the “City of Peace” for it has been host to several peace conferences in recent history. It seems funny that these “leaders” should feel the need to be pampered; perhaps holding their conferences in the streets of Gaza, or in the middle of Damascus would supply a better appreciation for the urgency of circumstances, but I digress—moving on.
While not off the beaten track by any means, Sharm el Sheikh can be a grand place to chill out until the traveler is geared up and ready for another round of hopping buses, haggling with taxi drivers, or maybe, simply for another round of golf. Travel is only glamorous in retrospect…Bah to that. No Shame.
Good Journeys! And remember to always check travel advisories for safety reports.