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Sharm el-Sheikh | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Wolfgang Holzem

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Sharm el-Sheikh is the most known town of the Egyptian cost of Sinai. It became a major tourist town in Egypt due to the diving possibilities at the Red Sea.

Some people call it the world’s most extraordinary diving destinations. The coral reefs of Ras Mohammed, Tiran, and the Aqaba coast, on which Sharm have a legendary reputation.

Today, however, diving is only part of the attraction here, as many visitors arrive simply to enjoy the sun, to parasail and windsurf and bicycle, or to explore the magical desert landscape of the southern Sinai.

Since the mid-1980s, the Sharm el-Sheikh area has come into its own as a world-class resort destination, with the construction of almost forty hotels and resorts.

The government of Egypt uses Sharm el-Sheik also as a conference centre and quite a number of meetings between the Palestenian authorities and the Israeli government took place here in recent years.

The simplicity of sun, sea and sand. The luxury of five-star hotels, water sports, shopping and entertainment.

This is Sharm el-Sheikh, one of the most accessible and developed tourist resort communities on the Sinai peninsula.

All around are Bedouins, colorful tents, mountains and sea. There are small, intimate hotels with modern designs, as well as larger hotel complexes belonging to International chains, plus about all the amenities one could expect of a tourist center, including casinos, discos and nightclubs, golf courses and health facilities.

In fact, with diving and snorkeling, windsurfing and other water sports, horses and camel riding, desert safaris, and great nearby antiquities attractions, it is almost impossible for a visitor to ever suffer from boredom.

Four miles south the southern section of the town stands on a cliff overlooking the port. and is a great view.

Na’ama Beach is one of the center of the tourist activities. Located just north of Sharm, this area is developing into a resort town of its own. Most hotels at Na’ama Bay have their own, private beaches with comfortable amenities such as chairs, shades and even bars.

Shark’s Bay is also nearby, and again is a growing resort community with more and more to offer, along with several diving centers.

The small harbor known as Sharm el-Moiya is located next to the civil harbor, has accommodations for boats, and includes a Yacht Club with rooms.

For those who live to shop, the Sharm El-Sheikh mall provides shops with both foreign and local products, including jewelry, leather goods, clothing, pottery and books.

It has been said that this is a must visit for all diving enthusiasts. There are many diving sites along the 10 mile beach between Sharm el-Sheikh and Ras Nusrani.

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Former founder of Asiarooms.com and now reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne but lived in Berlin during my early teenage years. A longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu. Now based on Mallorca, Spain.

Egypt

Luxor | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Wolfgang Holzem

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Luxor Travel Guide

Luxor Travel Guide

Luxor is high on your priority list as it has some of the most important archaeological attractions of the world. The Valley of the Kings in Egypt, the Valley of the Queens and the Tombs of the Noble are unique highlights of the ancient Egyptian Civilization.

These complexes of graves and tombs are located 20 km west of town, at the other side of the Nile. The most famous of these tombs is of course that of Tutankamon.

The modern town is nothing special but not unpleasant. There are a few restaurants where you can get decent food, accommodation options range from cheap to quite expensive. For those looking for a beer, the most expensive places are the best option.

Luxor has often been called the worlds greatest open air museum, as indeed it is and much more. The number and preservation of the monuments in the Luxor area are unparalleled anywhere else in the world that know of.

Actually, what most people think of as Luxor is really three different areas, consisting of the City of Luxor on the East side of the Nile, the town of Karnak just north of Luxor and Thebes, which the ancient Egyptians called Waset, which is on the west side of the Nile across from Luxor.

To say that the Luxor area is a major attraction for tourists in Egypt would be an understatement. It has been a tourist destination since the beginning of tourism. Even in ancient times, during the late Dynasties of the Greek and Roman periods, the area drew tourists, and has been doing so ever since.

Luxor Travel Guide

Luxor Travel Guide

Today Luxor is well equipped to accommodate tourists with many hotels and in general a tourist industry ready and willing to serve the people from many countries that descend on this area of the Nile Valley every year.

Within Luxor, there are only three main streets consisting of Sharia al-Mahatta, Sharia al-Karnak and the Corniched, next to the Nile. The street in front of the train station is Sharia al-Mahatta and runs away from the Nile where it meets the gardens of Luxor Temple. Sharia al-Karnak, or Maabad al-Karnak which means Karnak Temple Street runs along the Nile from Luxor Temple to Karnak Temple. However, Sharia al-Karnak is known as Sharia al-Markaz where it meets Sharia al-Mahatta street, and to the south around the temple it is known as Sharia al-Lokanda.

Along this street one will find the colorful signs of restaurants and cafes, as well as bazaars where the usual variety of Egyptian souvenirs can be found. Of interest is the alabaster, which is plentiful along the west bank and miled not far from here. Also look for the clay pots used by the locals for cooking, which are more unusual.

Luxor today is a city of some 150,000 people and is governed by special statues that allow it more autonomy then other political areas of Egypt. One thing you might notice is that various government and other buildings confirm to an ‘ancient’ building code. Particularly, the National bank of Egypt (located near the winter palace), the spa south of the police station, and the railway station are all designed to appear as pharaonic constructs. All of this occurred after the Egyptianization of the modern town resulting mostly from the mania that resulted from Howard Carter’s discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun. As one might think, the city has all the amenities tourists might expect, including a variety of hotels, bars, nightclubs and restaurants.

Luxor Travel GuideIn Luxor proper on the East Bank, one of the first stops must be the Temple of Luxor built by Amenophis III. Head south on Sharia al-Karnak to reach the temple, which was connected to the Karnak Temple via a long stone processional street called a dromos. The dromos (Picture at right) was built by Nectanebo I, and originally was lined on either side by sphinxes. In front of the Luxor temple, the dromos is well preserved, and on the way to the entrance one passes by a Roman chapel of burnt brick dedicated to the god Serapis, which was built during the rule of Hadrian. There is a path that leads to the Nile side of the Temple where one enters the complex.

After leaving Luxor, head back to Sharia al-Karnak and go north towards Karnak. Down the road, near the police station which is near the tomb is the oldest mosque in Luxor, the El-Mekashkesh Mosque. It contains the remains of a 10th century Islamic saint who rumor has it was a monk prior to converting to Islam. The mosque is a popular pilgrimage destination. Here also is the Franciscan Church and its schools, one for boys and the other girls. Beyond this lies a great Coptic basilica.

At the Police station, head towards the Nile Corniche. Here, opposite the Mina Palace Hotel you will find the Mummification Museum, which has most anything you would ever want to know about mummification. From here, head north towards Karnak.

About halfway to Karnak, you will discover the Luxor Museum. (The image at left is a Block Statue of Iamu Negh from the Luxor Museum). It should certainly be visited if you plan a well rounded and educated experience. While this is a small museum, most of the relics are from the surrounding area and provide considerable insight to the monuments you will visit.

From the Museum, head back to Sharia al-Karnak and continue north towards Karnak. After crossing a small bridge one will begin to see the excavated dromos off the road and running through a small village. A little further on you will pass the ruins of the Temple of Mut where another dromos leads to the gateway of the tenth pylon. The road finally arrives at the domed tombs of two saints, Sidi Ahmed and Sidi Ali, where a road leads past the Department of Antiquities leads to the main Temple of Karnak entrance. This road is built along a canal that once connected the Nile to the Temple. There was a dock in ancient times, but now all that is left is the quay and the raised dais. Just past that is a red brick Roman dock and past that two paved ramps led to the river bank. They are bordered by stone parapets, and were built during the rule of Taharqa. Past these is the Chapel of Achoris, which received the sacred boat of Amun when it was used in ceremonies.

To arrive at the entrance one follows the dromos with its crio-sphinxes. They have the head of a Ram and the body of a lion and are symbolic of the God Amun. Arriving at the temple, there is a statue of Ramesses II with his son between his feet.

To the right is a structure that has red steps, a red front colonnade and red brick walls. Inside there are pedestals. inscribed with the names of Roman emperors, that once held their statues. This was a Roman chapel dedicated to imperial worship. After leaving the Temple complex on the left is the Franco-Egyptian Center which has managed the temple complex since 1967. Down on the shore of the Nile is the Centre National dl la Recherche Scientifque, or CNRS, which houses the French and the Chicago House, a project of the University of Chicago is near by.

After this, you will wish to take a boat trip over to the West bank. This trip had a special meaning to the Egyptians, for they were more crossing the way to the West and life, then to a necropolis. The Valley of the Kings is as good as any to try first, with tombs from the 18th and 19th Dynasties. Outside the Valley of the Kings, the road leads past Antef, named for the 11th Dynasty prices who were buried here. Some tombs can still be seen as one heads towards the Temple of Seti I. Most of what is left of Seti’s Temple is the view. The court is entered by the ruined gate of a pylon The court has what is left of a palace on the south side. The road continues south passing Dra-Abu el-Naga necropolis.

The road eventually winds itself westward until reaching the Valley of Asasif. These are 25th and 26th Dynasty tombs. At the end of of the Valley of Asasif at the foot of a cliff named Deir el-Bahri is a spectacular complex of temples. The Temple of Mentuhetep I, Hatshepsut and Thotmose II here must be seen. Much of the architecture here seems so very powerful against the towering cliffs in the background. From here, the road continues past the remains of the temples of Ramesses IV and Thutmose III, eventually reaching the Necropolis of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna. This 18th Dynasty necropolis sits amidst houses where there are hundreds of holes. And below here, one comes to the famous Ramesseum, built by Ramesses II, a huge complex that took twenty years to complete.

As the road runs along past the remains of Thutmose IV, Merneptah, Ay and Horemheb’s Temples, it finally comes to the huge complex known as Medinet Habu, which is another of Thebe’s major attractions and a must see sight. The gate has square towers and appears almost oriental. Behind the complex is the workmen’s village called Deir el-Medina. Out in the fields near here is the Colossi of Memnon, one of the major tourist attractions throughout time. Southwest of Deir el-Medina is the Valley of the Queens, where queens of the 18th and 19th Dynasties were buried.

From here, the road continues past the mudbrick remains of the Amenhotep III’s palace called Malkatta. There is a lake to the east and at the other end of that, a small Roman temple called Deir Shelwit and built at the end of the 1st century.

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Hurghada | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Wolfgang Holzem

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Hurghada Travel Guide

Hurghada Travel Guide

Hurghada, known in Egypt as Ghardaga, was at one time just a simple fishing village. But now, with it’s crystal clear water, untouched reefs and a multitude of ship wrecks, it has become one of the best Egyptian tourist destinations. The small town centre with its bazaars, mosques and lively atmosphere reflects typical Egyptian life.

Further inland are the Desert Mountains, ideal for desert tours. Most of all Hurghada offers sunshine and relaxation – all you could want for your holiday.

With more than 20 km of hotels along the beach, Hurghada can satisfy the needs of every visitor, from scuba-diving to windsurfing to desert safaris. One can choose from the finest 5 Star Hotels to simple Guest Houses, and everything in-between. Hurghada is world renowned as a center for some of the world’s best Diving. Within a couple of hours from your hotel you can be among a group of islands that are the home to Dive Sites guaranteed to astound even the most experienced divers.

The offshore islands tempt the diver to discovery. Of course many other recreational activities are available. Temperature Throughout the year Hurghada has a warm and dry desert climate with a steady breeze. Summers are very hot – be sure to protect yourself against the sun.

In winter the temperature lies between 20 degrees – 25 degrees Celsius and water temperature reaches 20C – 22C Celsius. Enjoy a delightful submarine ride nearby, to view the underwater life in a unique fashion.

Hurghada Travel Guide

Russian Shop in Hurghada

Other nearby islands and destinations include the Shadwan Island (Diving, snorkeling, fishing but no swimming), Shaab Abu Shiban (Diving, snorkeling and swimming), Shaab el-Erg (Diving, fishing and snorkeling), Umm Gammar Island (Diving and snorkeling), Shasb Saghir Umm Gammae (Diving), Careless Reef (Diving), Abu Ramada Island (Diving), Shaab Abu Ramada (Fishing), Dishet el-Dhaba (Beaches and swimming), Shaab Abu Hashish (Beaches, diving, snorkeling, swimming and fishing), Sharm el-Arab (Diving, swimming and fishing and Abu Minqar Island (Beaches and swimming).

Hurghada was founded in the early 20th century, and until a few years ago, remained a small fishing village. But today, it has gone on to become the foremost tourist resort of the Red Sea coast and an international center for aquatic sports. If it takes place in or on the water you can do it here: windsurfing, sailing, deep-sea fishing, swimming, but, above all, snorkeling and diving.

The unique underwater gardens offshore are some of the finest in the world, justifiably famous amongst divers. The warm waters here are ideal for many varieties of rare fish and coral reefs, which may also be observed through glass bottom boats. This area has many fine accommodations, usually offering warm and efficient service. Restaurants are mostly along the main road. While in Hurghada, don’t miss the museum and aquarium, with their complete collections of flora and fauna of the Red Sea.

Today, Hurghada is known as a party town, particularly among Europeans. Locals and others will tell you that life begins at night in Hurghada, with the many, many clubs. They are particularly frequented by the young, but certainly many others of all ages.

One may often find a rousing party centered around the visitors from a tour group taking over the action of a particular bar. They are easy to find along the main street, along with loads of inexpensive and expensive hotels.

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Cairo | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Wolfgang Holzem

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CairoCairo, which Egyptians proudly call the ‘Mother of All Cities’, spreads along the banks of the River Nile for 40km (25 miles) north to south, the largest metropolis in Africa. Travellers through the ages have been both fascinated and repelled by Cairo.

Visitors are intrigued by its twisting streets, medieval buildings, oriental bazaars and Islamic architecture of carved domes and sculpted minarets, while being appalled by its dirt, pollution, noise, crowds and constant demands for baksheesh (gratuities).

Paying baksheesh is the local custom, however, so expect to give little and often. Culture shock is part of the experience of Cairo and can at times be wearing. But as is written in the ancient tales of the 1001 Nights, ‘He who hath not seen Cairo, hath not seen the world’.

Cairo is a disorienting place but most of the city lies on the east bank of the River Nile. Visitors often feel most comfortable finding their feet in the Westernised downtown district of central Cairo around Midan Tahrir (Liberation Square). This is a public transport hub, separated from the Nile by the massive Nile Hilton Hotel. Here too is the city centre’s main attraction, the Egyptian Museum.

Opposite downtown is the Nile island of Gezira, with the island of Roda just to the south. The Pyramids of Giza, however, are on the west bank of the river, some 18km (11 miles) from the centre. Old Cairo lies south of central Cairo, while Islamic Cairo encompasses a large area to the east. The city is growing rapidly, both in terms of population and geographical area, with new suburbs expanding on its outskirts, especially into the Eastern Desert.

Northwest of the city centre, near the airport, Heliopolis is home to many of Cairo’s wealthy (and the Presidential Palace), while to the west, the middle-class suburb of Giza has expanded to within sight of the Pyramids.

Although Cairo today is Egypt’s capital and largest city, teeming with some 18 million people, its position of prominence in the long timeline of Egyptian history is relatively recent. It did not even exist when the pyramids at Giza were constructed. Then, the town of Memphis, 24km (15 miles) to the south, was the Pharaonic capital. Cairo was not founded until the Romans rebuilt an old Persian fortress along the Nile in AD116, which was known as Babylon-in-Egypt, in today’s Old Cairo district.

From the latter ninth century, a succession of Arab rulers made their mark on the city: Ibn Tulun built his royal city el-Qatai, the Fatimids built the walled city of el-Qahira, from which Cairo takes it name. In the 13th century, the Mamluks, a caste of Turkish soldier-slaves, rose to power, then the Ottomans, the French under Napoleon and finally the British ruled in their turn.

The birth of modern Cairo came in 1863, when the ruler Ismail expanded the city along the Nile in the style of the great European cities. After the country returned to Egyptian rule in 1952, Cairo rose to the forefront as the capital of the Arab world.

Cairo is also called the ‘City of 1000 Minarets’ and it is the exotic skyline of graceful domes and towering minarets that casts a spell of magic over the grinding reality of the metropolis. Most visitors come to see the great Pyramids of Giza, the treasures of Tutankhamun’s tomb and other wonders in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, as well as to shop in the sprawling Khan al-Khalili marketplace. There are also dozens of mosques, Coptic churches, smaller museums and winding streets to explore.

This tourism is Egypt’s key source of foreign income, while the public sector, including government and social services and the military, makes up the largest ‘industry’. The city is also the centre of a growing trade, finance and insurance sector.

During the summer, temperatures in Cairo can climb to 38 degrees Celsius, though the low humidity is some consolation. The best time to visit is between October and April. Occasional downpours occur in January and February, while during March and April the khamseen, a strong, hot, dry wind, blows in periodically from the desert.

Cairo is one of the greatest cities to explore, but it is not a fairytale city, with beautiful minarets and pitturesque bazars. Of course it has those, but they are not the essence of Cairo. Cairo is exciting, alive and with over 10 million people an overcrowded city.

The city of Cairo is also full of sights of different kinds. There are remains from the Pharaonic days, there are museums, there are loads of islamic monuments.

See the special sights section for details for all these attractions. Just walking around downtown and in the older residential parts inside the wall of the city where craftsmen work on the sidewalks outside their homes is also a real pleasure. It is easy to meet real Cairenes that are eager to discuss anything with you.

Some of them try to lure you to their carpetshop, others are really interested and interesting to talk with.

Be sure to visit the bazar of Khan el Khalili to do some shopping, see shopping section for details.

Cairo has many sights, enough for a week or two. Here they are divided into sections according to their nature. Of all the sights you cannot afford to miss the Pyramids (would you consider skipping them?), the Spinx and the Egyptian Museum. They are the unique remainders of the oldest civilization of the planet.

Try to get a good taste of islamic culture as well by visiting some of the mosques and the old town. Visiting these sights will give you some understanding of the basis of present day life in Egypt. Furthermore the COptic quarter offers some interesting sights worth exploring. The city of death is a category apart and merits a visit as well.

Cairo offers an incredible selection of shopping, leisure, culture and nightlife. Shopping ranges from the famous Khan el-Khalili souk, (or bazaar) largely unchanged since the 14th century, to modern air-conditioned centers displaying the latest fashions.

All the bounty of the East is here – particularly good buys are spices, perfumes, gold, silver, carpets, brass and copperware, leatherwork, glass, ceramics and mashrabiya. Try some of the famous street markets, like Wekala al-Balaq, for fabrics, including Egyptian cotton, the Tentmakers Bazaar for appliqu?-work, Mohammed Ali Street for musical instruments and, although you probably won’t want to buy, the Camel Market makes a fascinating trip.

When you need a break from city life, try a round of golf on the famous Mena House course overlooking the Pyramids, watch the horse racing at the Gezira Club or visit the Zoo and the Botanical Gardens. Take a trip on the Nile in a felucca or ride on horseback from the Giza Pyramids to Sakkara.

For a day trip outside Cairo visit Haraniyya village and see the beautiful tapestries and weaving produced by local people. If you wish, you may get away from it all at the top of the Cairo Tower, a modern 187 meter-high tower with views of the city from all sides, topped by a revolving restaurant.

Cairo comes alive at night, which is the best time to shop, eat delicious Middle Eastern cuisine, or simply watch the world go by from a pavement cafe. You can dine in a floating restaurant on the Nile, sample an apple-flavored shisha waterpipe at a coffee-shop or see oriental dancers and cabarets at a luxury hotel.

The splendid Opera House complex houses several galleries (including the Museum of Modern Art), restaurants and concert halls. Listening to Arabic music under the stars, in the open-air theater, is a magical experience. At El-Ghuriya, in the heart of Islamic Cairo, you can watch folk musicians and whirling dervish dancers. And don’t forget the most essential after-dark experience, the Sound and Light show at the Pyramids, a dramatic fusion of light and music recounting the story of antiquity.

Most of the monuments in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt are not so difficult to identify. Most have one of several different types of markers and the more important have full descriptions. Therefore, walking through one of the historical areas of Cairo, one does not necessarily need a guide, though certainly it helps.

Modern Cairo consider Central Cairo to consist of the area bordered by Old Cairo to the south, Islamic Cairo to the east and the Nile River to the west, but this covers a number of different districts.

Modern Cairo (Central Cairo)

Islamic Cairo is not the oldest section of Cairo, as that distinction belongs to Old Cairo. Westerners visiting Cairo many not wish to think in terms of Islamic here, but rather medieval. Indeed this area encompasses the medieval history from beginning to end.

Islamic Cairo

Old Cairo actually predates Cairo itself to old Babylon and the Romans. Located here are some of the oldest Christian Churches in the World, as well as one of the oldest Mosques.

Old (and Coptic) Cairo

Giza is where the Great Pyramid is located, but there is more to the west bank of the Nile. Several important districts are located here, along with wonderful restaurants and great shopping opportunities.

Heliopolis

Heliopolis is a suburb of Cairo located to the north east, though there is no break between the cities as there was when it was first constructed in 1906.

At that time the building style of the city, known as Masr al-Gedida or New Cairo had a mix of architecture set in a garden environment which reflected the tastes of the original promoter, Baron Empain, who built the Tram system in Cairo.

Originally there was a strictly enforced building code with considerable neo-Arabic style used in buildings, but there are also some exotic dwellings in the area. Originally, it attracted upper class families, and today that segment is still there, along with the middle class.

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