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Author Topic: Holiday Travel in the Middle East  (Read 10717 times)
spork
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« on: September 19, 2011, 1:41:24 PM »

I got excellent advice for forumites on Caribbean destinations in this thread, so I thought I'd plumb fora wisdom for our next holiday excursion. We are thinking of going to Egypt over winter break. I've been to Cairo and points south before, but not to Alexandria or the Red Sea, which are the two places we are thinking of going. My main question is: does anyone know a good travel agent in the USA with expertise on hotels in Alexandria and/or Dahab? We are guessing that Sharm is probably too expensive and we aren't the full-package resort "stay in the tourist bubble" kind of travelers anyway.

I can use TripAdvisor, Orbitz, etc., but it would be much more convenient to have someone else line up accommodations and in-country transportation. What I'm really looking for is the equivalent of Kathryn of Kathryn's Travel, who set up the Mexico trip (I have no financial interest in that company, I just think she did a great job).
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a.k.a. gum-chewing monkey in a Tufts University jacket

"There are no bad ideas, only great ideas that go horribly wrong."

"Please do not force people who are exhausted to take medication for hallucinations." -- Memo from the Chair, Department of White Privilege Studies, Fiork University
mathy
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2011, 5:52:31 PM »

Dahab is my favorite place on earth and I've been 5 or 6 times (one visit to Sharm was more than enough for me!)  The one time I went on a trip to Dahab booked through a travel agent, the hotel we stayed at was a crappy resort outside of town and we had to take an expensive taxi both ways to see anything.  I definitely prefer to arrange things myself and don't have a recommendation for a travel agent.   I've never had problems just buying tickets through the Egypt Air website for internal flights.  Any hotel should be able to arrange transportation from the Sharm el Sheikh airport to Dahab for about $30 each way. 

What are you looking for in terms of hotel?  I've stayed at 5 different places and have had friends recommend a few others.  The Coach House is a lovely mid-range bed and breakfast.  It doesn't have ocean views but it is right by the beach and nice and quiet.   Alf Leila is another one in the same range.  It has a more interesting atmosphere but the service and location are not quite as good (though it is attached to a yummy bakery).

If you're looking for a bigger place with a pool and ocean views, I've heard good things about the Christina Beach hotel but have never stayed there myself.    Let me know if you are looking at lower end and I can weigh in a few of those.

I've been to Alex twice but wasn't impressed with either hotel I stayed in so I can't help there.

I'm completely jealous of your trip and hope you have a great time!
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spork
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2011, 9:11:13 PM »

Mathy, we might be meeting an in-law in Dahab. Something on the beach or across the street from it is preferred, especially if there's an ocean view. We do not care about a pool (why bother, when the ocean is there?). A fridge in the room would be nice.

I would like to say something mid-range would be good, but on my previous trips to Egypt I found that what is listed as "mid-range" on sites like TripAdvisor can in reality be pretty crummy. The wifey would not be amused. A local guide once explained it as "don't try to do budget travel in Egypt -- there's no middle ground."

So while we want to avoid the very high-end resorts, we aren't Lonely Planet backpacker types. We do like local flavor though. The best example I can give is Eskaleh Ecolodge, a place that I stumbled upon in Abu Simbel. Simple accommodations, but spotless, great food, lots of hospitality. Really friendly place. It was a much better hotel than what I stayed in at Luxor and Aswan, for less money.
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a.k.a. gum-chewing monkey in a Tufts University jacket

"There are no bad ideas, only great ideas that go horribly wrong."

"Please do not force people who are exhausted to take medication for hallucinations." -- Memo from the Chair, Department of White Privilege Studies, Fiork University
mathy
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« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2011, 8:15:45 AM »

I would say definitely look into the Coach House. The rooms are simple but immaculate and it is run by a Danish couple so they understand what travelers from the US and Europe are expecting for accommodations.  My room didn't have a fridge but there was one with sodas, beers, and snacks that you could take from on an honor system in the dining room. 

Dahab is basically a giant boardwalk along the shore with the beach/restaurants on one side and diveshops and hotels on the other.  The Coach House is behind a dive shop so it isn't right on the boardwalk (which makes it quieter) but it is only 50 ft or so from it.  There are ocean views from the rooftop terrace but not from the individual rooms.  I have several friends who were faculty members at AUC and this was their preferred hotel in Dahab.

I thought this was nicer and cleaner than many resorts in Egypt and certainly much more personal than a large hotel complex.  But I've stayed at many others as well so if you have questions about anywhere else, feel free to ask.
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spork
If you are reading this, I am naked.
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« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2011, 10:21:07 AM »

Thanks, mathy. Any info on other places is appreciated as well.

Poking around TripAdvisor, I see vacation rentals being listed in addition to hotels. I assume these are condo rentals. Might be an option.
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a.k.a. gum-chewing monkey in a Tufts University jacket

"There are no bad ideas, only great ideas that go horribly wrong."

"Please do not force people who are exhausted to take medication for hallucinations." -- Memo from the Chair, Department of White Privilege Studies, Fiork University
spork
If you are reading this, I am naked.
Distinguished Senior Member
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Posts: 16,149


« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2011, 3:00:02 PM »

Anyone have advice for an airport hotel for Cairo? We are spending our last night close to the airport to avoid a very early wake up when we leave Egypt.
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a.k.a. gum-chewing monkey in a Tufts University jacket

"There are no bad ideas, only great ideas that go horribly wrong."

"Please do not force people who are exhausted to take medication for hallucinations." -- Memo from the Chair, Department of White Privilege Studies, Fiork University
prytania3
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Prytania, the Foracle


« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2011, 8:21:15 AM »

I'd go to Dubai, but then, I'm glitzy that way.
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I'm not a narcissist. I'm just angry and violent.
spork
If you are reading this, I am naked.
Distinguished Senior Member
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Posts: 16,149


« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2011, 5:00:39 PM »

I'd go to Dubai, but then, I'm glitzy that way.

The wifey would like Dubai also. I have a friend living there; she likes it.
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a.k.a. gum-chewing monkey in a Tufts University jacket

"There are no bad ideas, only great ideas that go horribly wrong."

"Please do not force people who are exhausted to take medication for hallucinations." -- Memo from the Chair, Department of White Privilege Studies, Fiork University
aeroporika
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« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2012, 9:32:12 AM »

I prefer going to Egypt, there are many historical places to see. I am searching for cheap air tickets, I friend suggest me http://www.petas.gr/gr/aeroporika-eisitiria.html, what is your opinion?
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westcoastgirl
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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2012, 9:48:54 AM »

I'll chime in more later. I think there are lots of advantages to arranging things yourself but you want to avoid scammers who will take advantage of tourists. You mention meeting an in-law? Does anyone speak even limited Arabic? That would help with price negotiations. I see the allure of using a travel agent, but you might experience a markup and there are three sets of prices--western prices, Egyptian prices and a mixture between the two.
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