Sphinx and Pyramids in Egypt

Between ruins and shipwrecks

A year ago, men attacked several tourists in a hotel in Hurghada with a knife. It was not the hotel I had checked in, but since the incident, the government has increased the security precautions so as not to lose more tourists.

“All nonsense of the media in the West. Every little thing is exaggerated to an assassination. A man had only paid no wages and wanted to take revenge on the manager.”

Taxi driver in Hurghada

The ISIS later claimed the attack. That remains unmentioned. What is truth, what is not? It is clear that since the Arab spring, since the attacks and the unexplained aircraft crash, Egypt has been suffering from the lack of tourists. On 25 January was the sixth anniversary of the revolution. Hurghada and all of Egypt is full of military checkpoints. However, some do exist since 20 years. On the way to Luxor we passed more than 20 checkpoints. Partially, tourist buses are accompanied by military convoys to prevent raids. Many hotels in Hurghada lack bookings, but each has a security man as well as an airport scanner for man or bag to be scanned at the entrance. Depending on the hotel the guards are equipped with AK-47 or pistols. Some take their job seriously, others less. From my point of view, it is not helpful to ward off new attacks, but it will give tourists a feeling of security.

Throughout town visitors can see the remnants from the times of the boom. Half-finished houses and hotel ruins line the streets. Now they are gathering the waste of the street. It makes me sad, but only as long as the next street hawker runs after me to lure me into his shop. Rarely, I was so aggressively appealed to in Asia or India to buy something or being so brazenly lied to. They fight for survival. I was happy to be with Juuso, a friend from Finland and my dive partner in Bali. Where necessary, we were a couple.

The Red Sea as well as Egypt was a white spot on my map. The ancient sites on the Nile had already fascinated me in my childhood. Anubis, Osiris, Horus, Pharaohs and Cleopatra resonate well in children’s ears and can be always a good bedtime story. So we decided not only to go diving, but also to do a little sightseeing. We visited the Pyramids of Gizeh, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the Temples in Luxor. It was impressive and not either. Without a good guide or good prior research, a positive experience is hardly possible. The Egyptian Museum was the most disappointing in this regard. It was stuffed with artifacts. Our guide tried to pick the most important pieces from the variety of the exhibits. The museum follows a chronology, but lacked otherwise a good concept of display. It remains to be hoped that the new building will pay tribute to the country’s history and that other Egyptian artefacts return home from museum around the world.

Wreck diving in the Red Sea

For divers, the Red Sea is a dream. The prices are cheap and the food at boat trips indescribably delicious. As a special dive we visited two wrecks (Ghiannis D. and Carnatic). This time we brought an underwater camera. Every diver knows what happens when you move too much. You will run out of air very fast. This happend to me. After 20 minutes I had no air in my tank and the guide shared his tank. At this point wreck diving can become really exciting if you push yourself through the narrow aisles. We survived both and share now some good memories.

Egypt is faszinating, but also disappointing. How will Egypt develop in the coming years? People try to live a normal life. They stroll along the water with their family, smoke water pipes or watch football. Many, however, just try to kill time. In Cairo even more than in Hurghada. But I want to visit Cairo again anyway. Too short was our time there, as our visit was arbitrarily shortened by our tour organizer and the driver drove us back to Hurghada unvoluntary and unasked. But this has been enough to get a feeling for the city. It was both attractive and repulsive at the same time. It looks like a ruin, it is dilapidated and brittle, dirty and clogged. Since 2015, a new capital is beeing built just 45km to the east outside of town. If this will solve the problems of the old city, I dare to doubt. Cairo is a melting pot that is about to overflow. A reason more, for another visit soon!