Egypt is a nostalgic country. Cairo, the Pyramids, the Red Sea – it’s a place punctuated with biblical myths, historical landmarks and a tumultuous past and present.
Cinematically, we harbor for the Egyptian days of old, when Cairo was a European melting pot and epicenter showered in romantic mystery and intrigue. But, ever since the events of the Suez Canal, and even before, the overtly idyllic connotations of a European-like Egypt have been shattered.
Rather, modern events such as the 2011 revolution, demise of free press and rise in random and sporadic terrorist attacks have left modern Egypt a tainted, unvisited place. It’s not an ideal destination for foreign tourists.
Therefore, it was with mass hesitation that I ventured forth to Hurghada in southern Egypt. The flight path was the first signifier that Egypt was no longer gracing the ‘top 10 locations to visit’ list. There was no direct flight out of Italy, and we had to first stop to Geneva and then onto a Swiss air flight to merely get into the country.
Hurghada is not like Cairo, it doesn’t have a population of 80 million people, nor is it surrounded by thousand-year-old Pyramids. It’s a place by the Red Sea, a two-week holiday destination guaranteeing sea, sun and sand.
It’s also where my partner’s uncle is from, and we were fortunate enough to stay in his villa located right on the temperate waters of the Red Sea.
What I witnessed there was mildly depressing. Despite the unquestionably unique and beautiful surroundings, grand and majestic hotels that once held thousands of guests were empty and barren.
There were no visitors, no tourists and no foreigners driving the local economy.
What it left us with was an empty beach and a free playing ground. But, it’s impact on the area has been severe. The hospitality and hotel industry is skeletal and in desperate need of rejuvenation.
Yet, the area is spectacular and the people warm, friendly and jubilant. Here’s why Egypt needs to be on your travel radar, now:
- Hire a boat and explore the red sea. It really is a place swarming with the most incredibly local aquatic fauna. Fish, turtles, eels, sharks even – it’s variety in species is unprecedented. It really is an under-water lover’s dream.
- More for less. Budget travel is not everyone’s ideal or forte, but if you’re after more for less – than Egypt should certainly be your go-to. Trust me, it’s a country in desperate need of a tourism boost, and places are only too willing to accommodate yourself and your entourage for a rather meagre price.
- Relax and have fun. I really did have so much fun in Egypt. Firstly, Hurghada is not littered in night clubs and after-hours bars. Largely, it’s a country devoid of any drink, meaning you can party the night away with a faux beer and skip the hangover the next day.
- The history. Egypt is a place buzzing, melting and saturated in history, and for any ancient history nerd, it’s a must-go place to visit. Embrace this country, its quirks, foibles and uniqueness.