The charm of Sharm part II

Sorry for the delay on this second installment on Sharm, I've had flu, deadlines and no internet. I’m going to do a shameless plug for two things – one, the hotel, Creative Grand Sharm, a 3-star with the most fantastic pool, and the hotel booking website, http://www.booking.com/, which got me a room for US$20/night, less than half the price of rack, including breakfast. Check them out, that's the pool below.

Unlike the Ritz, My hotel was around the corner, a slightly less fabulous, though more friendly affair, where the room was more an apartment with a fridge and kitchen (though no utensils), a lounge room and large terrace. Great value.

Across the road is the staggering Alf Leila We Leila (1001 Nights), which quickly was rebranded as the Kremlin. “It’s sooo Arabic,” said Mohommad, the super-helpful pharmacist whose shop was nearby. It’s so Russian. What do you think?

Inside is a cinema, several nightclubs, a sound and light show including a reproduction of Abu Simbel and a hotel is in the making. It’s massive. All around are shops selling the usual gumpf – shisha pipes, riotous belly dancing costumes, fake Dolce & Gabbana bags and perfume. They also offer to organise you anything from quad biking to slightly illicit activities.

The resort that is Sharm el-Sheik stretches across several bays, from the original fishing village in the south where the Old Market is located, up to the pumping Na’ama Bay, home of countless shisha cafes which use various tactics from pleading with visitors to enter to dressing the staff in white gellibayas and making them dance what looks suspiciously like the Bus Stop to the nasal whine of Akon.

Further north, the area around the airport is booming, with new high-end hotels and restaurants coming on line as we breathe – featured are restaurants from Ukraine, Britain and Russia. I’m not sure there’s an Egyptian one, but there in Naama Bay is a branch of the sensational Abu El Sid, which has its roots in Cairo’s Zamalek, and serves excellent Egyptian food in up-market surrounds.

My chemist Mohommad also dispensed advice (as well as Viagra and Cialis, as announced by the display cabinet on his desk), which led me to Sadiki Café on a hilltop at Faraana Bay, in Hadaba, which looks out onto the pontoons and dive boats in the blue ocean below. It would be awesome at sunset, but alas, I found it on my last afternoon, and sunset was already booked to be viewed from the pool at the Ritz. Tough gig.

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