Petting lions and paddling in the Med: a day in Egypt

A day spent swimming and patting lion cubs: in all, an excellent day in Egypt.

Apologies for the silence, I’ve been offline up on Egypt’s north coast, where I had no internet, curfews (thank you, revolution) and not even a chemist for lousy cold tablets.

It’s sometimes strange to think that Egypt is a Mediterranean country (did you know there are 21?), but it’s home to some of the most budget-friendly Med resorts. The flashiest of them all is Porto Marina, 280km from Cairo, where ministers and other high government officials have their summer getaways, in the form of luxe tower apartments and chic chalets.

Porto Marina and a foolhardy bungee jumper.
There’s a touch of Australia's Gold Coast to it all, with a huge restaurant strip on a marina full of white boats, a crane hauling quaking bungee jumpers up into the sky. But it’s still Egypt: while we were having lunch there today, a man walked by, carrying a five-month-old lion cub. The photographer by his side made sure nobody got to take a snap without producing the gold.

The little cub is from a local circus, and they assured me she wasn’t drugged, as she curled up against the man like a kitten. We patted her paws, stroked her back and admired her beautiful eyes without complaint.

“Do you want your daughter to sit on the lion for a photo?” asked the tout. Listen mate, I’ve already horrified enough animal lovers with posts of Eid’s sacrifices, I told him. Let’s not push it…

(PS: I can't show you the pic of the lion because I'm a dentist. No, it's because I don't have a scanner. Will work on that one...)


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