web analytics

The Solo Scooterist

Documenting my travels on a Vespa

Date: September 25, 2014

The Red sea and resort life

Getting out of Luxor took longer than I expected , the reason being road works and to many one ways , confusing for both the GPS and  in turn me . Finally we popped out beyond the city limits  and the desert opened her arms to welcome us to the open road .  I was excited about todays ride , I was about take Vic and I up and along the coast of the Red sea. The last time Victoria and I had the ocean close was in  Swakopmund , since then our riding has been dominated by lakes and rivers with  the Nile both Blue and White dominating , so I was looking forward to that sea smell , the freshness of the  salt air clearing my nostrils of the desert  and dust .

 

Dual lane riding

Dual lane riding

 

The road up to Hurghada was far easier than the previous days up to Luxor where one rides along the agricultural road , so when a dual carriage way appeared it was a feast for both rider and scooter . The ride  takes you through resort towns that follow the coast , some incomplete , some boarded up and others open but looking a little tatty and tardy , for what the lack of tourism has done . That been said the ones that had survived did look beautiful and inviting .

 

Our first glimpse of the Red Sea.

Our first glimpse of the Red Sea.

 

The ride was windy and hot , something I had become accustomed to , not to say that I enjoyed the hours of buffeting but I had been desensitised to both by this stage . With the dramatic drop in tourism and the economic principles of supply and demand , the local support had taken up some of the occupancy with incredible specials being offered to locals , so the beaches full of families soaking up the sun  , enjoying their Egypt . One cannot believe the number and the size of  these resorts , You get the feeling that there can’t be enough tourists or travellars to occupy all this space , but I had been told that before the crisis occupancy was very high , lets hope things return to their former glory soon , it is very sad seeing a coastline forgotten and falling into ruin.

 

Red sea resort

Red sea resort

 

Hurghada had a very different feel , the town full of tourists , activity and had that  holiday town vibrancy  . I searched high and low for accommodation , but all the hotels in town had no off street parking so I had to ride back out of town to try and find accommodation at one of the resorts.

Finding a place for the night took me hours , the resorts have very strict security and if you don’t have a booking you can’t even get past security to find out if they have rooms available , eventually I was able to get into a hotel reception and finally get a room . It was so bizarre , I had to sit in reception , go online to booking dot com and reserve a room in the very hotel that only meters away was the reception that would complete the process .  Finally 5 hours after arriving in Hurghada I unpacked the scooter and made my way to the room .

What I found out later is that the only way these resorts have survived the crisis is to offer week long fully inclusive packages at extremely low prices just to try and keep their doors open and that nobody just arrived off the street , that is why I could not get into any of the resorts . I was a URO not seen in these parts for years .

I was issued with my water and tamper proof blue plastic bracelet and joined the all inclusive club .  Resort life in Hurghada is an education in itself and fascinating to observe , a  place that sports more ink on skin than not , some interesting , some dumb ,  a place that gauges manhood not by age or wisdom  but by the amount you can bench press , a place that allows  gravity to  play havoc with some body shapes and has little or no effect on the toned athletes  in leopard print  , a place that sports silicon both on the bodies and at the buffet with all the food tasting the same be it Italian or Asian . A place that tells time by restaurant and bar hours , a place that turns you red , not from the sun but the behaviour around the feeding frenzy that dominates the day , A place that serves wine from large metal vats  and on more than one occasion the food piled on plates resembled a circus act with it being humanly impossible to have so much on something with such a small circumference  , a place that loves  Pharaoh kitch , fluffy bikini’s  and themed parties ,  a place that tests the strength of buttons and fabric with every mouth full . So I sat watching the Russians and Germans united by booze and buffet , the international language spoken being gluttony , my eyes not used to what materialised before them , Africa had shown me a very different picture of life as I travelled her lands , this was something I had long forgotten about , how we in the west want and waste , my eyes and mind turned and for the first time in a long time I felt my ability to be understanding or accepting fade only to be replaced by a critical eye and anger at this vulgar display before me .

I spent the rest of the time hiding  in my room resting or enjoying the odd movie , trying to escape the show outside . Had my journey made me accepting of so much , yet an inability  to accept this . Observing the world through  an accepting eye that is not critical of what is different shows true maturity and a little wisdom , yet my response to what I observed disappointed me in that I forgotten to remove the critical lens before observation .

So the sun set on resort life and I prepared to ride once more only one night away from crossing onto the Sinai Peninsula .

 

Until we meet again .

 

 

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

One night , two days to the Suez

The sun gave me the light to leave and at dawn Victoria and I set our sights on Ain Soukhna a mere 330 kilometres away and this would put us close enough to the Suez canal crossing to make it onto the peninsula and down to the Red sea diving Mecca of Sharm El Sheikh in one day . I had decided to take some time off the scooter and try and have a holiday to alleviate the road fatigue that was becoming an ever more dominant part of my day . My enthusiasm for the riding and the trip had diminished dramatically , I was stopping less and less , interacting with people was becoming laborious , my patience on a fuse the length of a new born silk worm and my camera spent its life in my camelbak  ignoring what we passed by , in favour of making it to our next destination in the shortest possible  time .

The Lore of riding had shown me the signs , stop , rest or error will stop or slow you forever . Just one night and two days of riding and hopfully the charm of Sharm would offer us refuge and rejuvenation so that once again I could find the things I loved about being solo on a scooter named Victoria.

 

The route from Lake Nasser to Sharm and beyond .

The route from Lake Nasser to Sharm and beyond .

The morning started with the belief that the day would be shorter than usual and allow me to get into Ain Soukhna  early , so I could rest well to take on the crossing bright and early the following morning . I had heard that that the military presence at the tunnel and check points could slow progress dramatically hence the desire to kick off early again .

The desert in this part of Egypt has nothing but oil refineries and rigs that line the coast , it takes on a look that fills you with despair and dread for all the beauty is lost and the harshness shows itself in a brutal way , with this landscape  came the wind that would change my day to one of the hardest and tiring to date . The scooter was been directed by the force and immense power of this wind that bent all to its will . My grip fused and locked to try and hold Victoria on the right side of the road , after loosing the battle within a few kilometres the only solution was to slow right down , use the full extent of the road and pray that it would subside , three hours later the direction changed and the wind took to our back , pushed us along with a force that had been so destructive but now  gave us  speed ,  pleasure and ease , I could only appreciate  after the battering of the last hours .

The word dishevelled came to mind when I arrived at the hotel , luckily I had made a reservation before hand , as I don’t think they would have let me in by the way I looked and felt .  I tried to use the hot water and time  as jaws of life in the shower to release the clamps that locked my body like the hunch back of scootredam , to no avail , but not all was lost the mattress was hard and full of support,  I knew after a night on this bed all would be well in the morning .

After my shower it was down to dinner and as luck would have it the hotel only offered a buffet , so thinking I had escaped the horrors of Hurghada  , I was once again shown how manners can be lost in the battle that reigns around the buffet , with the smallest gaps taken to secure that piece of meat ,  or the most supple of stretches that allow a person three back to secure the tasty tart twinkling under the frosting , how husbands forsake families , leave wives a gasp  to get down to that beacon of delight . The food was good , nobody went hungry and with my dinner done off to bed so the early bird to catch the tunnel .

Until we meet again.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Out of Africa or not ?

The ride started early and within no time I was riding through the town of Suez in search of the tunnel that would take me across to the Sinai , and to the road that would lead to Sharm El Sheikh. I felt that I  needed to get 440 kilometres done to reach our destination and that  became my focus  . I found the signs to the tunnel expecting my delays to start here , I was waived through the check point and the next thing  Victoria and I found ourselves in the tunnel , I let out a cry of delight , here I was crossing the Suez on a Vespa and in my mind it felt like I had just left Africa and was so close to a different part of the journey with a newness that was palatable .

I debated with myself , had I left Africa or would it be when I made the crossing into Israel , the debate raged in my head while I re created the map in my mind , had I or had I not ? The wind carried us down the peninsula , tunes from the I pod offering opportunities to sing along while  the wind ushered us to our resting place. Wow ! The Sinai is truly magnificent with dramatic rock formations and mountains with sand so light that they look snow capped from a distance .

 

Beautiful nothingness , sculpted by the wind.

Beautiful nothingness , sculpted by the wind.

 

DSCN5330

 

The ride was much easier than the previous day and it was then that my luck with the check points changed and Victoria and I spent the next couple of hours stopping and starting , passport and papers in and out , the journey slowed but we were loving it nonetheless , this desert was something to behold . It might be the lightness of the sand or the majestic mountains that take your mind to a place that is visually and emotionally just beautiful , peaceful and tranquil . The serene Sinai , not how most of the world sees it , unfortunately .

 

The road to Sharm.

The road to Sharm.

 

The mountains that run alongside you .

The mountains that run alongside you .

The heat was intense with a few times that I thought that Victoria’s gauge might be showing a slightly elevated reading , ever so slightly above normal and then it settled down once more .  We arrived in Sharm to be stopped by the police twice within 50 meters , with the second involving me to strip Victoria down , unpack the entire scooter top to bottom in the blazing heat , while the scrutinising officials let lazy eyes follow my movments  . Once done it was time to get to the hotel . I had booked myself into Camel Hotel and dive club , finally unpacked and settled I made my way down to the dive centre and booked my dives for the next three days .

So enthusiastic I was about my dive holiday that I booked three dives per day for three days in a row , what was I thinking ? I was here to relax yet I thought time underwater would clear all and set my mind free once more to journey with me . I would be so tired after three days of diving I would have to extent my stay just to sleep in and rest from the rest.

 

From the boat heading out to our first dive site.

From the boat heading out to our first dive site.

 

Still sailing.

Still sailing.

The hotel beautiful the staff fantastic so I settled into my routine of diving and dining , walking the streets or should I say the semi deserted streets of Sharm and I seemed to find a sense of being  earthed in this place that usually is a 24 hour non stop party town .

 

Hypnotic .

Hypnotic .

 

Far fewer boats and divers than what one has come to expect here.

Far fewer boats and divers than what one has come to expect here.

 

Tourism is really down in Egypt and from my last visit here where you would queue to get anything and could not wait to get on the boat to leave for your week on the liveaboard , Sharm had clearly lost part of her charm , yet I was just happy to be in a totally different environment doing something totally different feeling like a guy on holiday with days of diving and nights of deep sleep with no planning where , what and how for the next day’s ride.

I thought four days would be fine and I would be ready to ride again , this was not to be and five days later I was still in slop’s , luckily with no socks and board shorts walking about , doing something close to nothing but a little different to the day before . For me Sharm still held all her charm and I really did not feel like leaving , a theme that was now a recurring one . It was then that I decided to extend my diving holiday and go up to Dahab to enjoy more of the same   , one of my better decisions I might add.

So with the coolness of early morning I packed up Victoria to take on the ride of 98 kilometres to our next stop Dreamy Dahab.

Until we meet again .

 

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

© 2018 The Solo Scooterist

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑