Grand Africa, voyage – Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

29 October 2022  Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, by Barbara Cummings

Up early for an early tour.  Found a good window seat in the Lido, and esteemed lecturer Kate Ross came up.  She thought she recognized me from a world cruise and asked to join me.  We had a wonderful talk, while I ate my muesli, orange juice, and coffee.
Told her how I had  praised her on the Navigator and expressed frustration about not being allowed to photograph anything from her talks.  She gave me her card, her email address, AND her permission to take photos.  🙂

We docked at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt at 7:45am.  (Not the originally planned 7am). I went to find the gangway for disembarkation about 8am and found that a long line had already formed behind David and Jan.  I went to the end of the line and everyone waited until 8:40 when the Egyptian authorities finally cleared our ship.  Then we could make our way off the ship — to find another line for presenting passports and go through local X-ray security. Stopped for Ship’s Photographer Connor to photograph me.  Boarded the ship’s shuttle to the port gate, where private tours meet up.

Cruise Critic’s Mary Anne Moore and Linda Halpin used Across Africa Tours for the “St. Catherine’s Monastery” tour.
I found bus #2 and got a back seat window.
Rumors were flying that the tour had been canceled and demands that we return before the ship leaves were flying around.  We should have left at 7:30am to drive the 136 miles to St. Catherine’s.  Jeremy had advised people not to attempt such a distant destination.  AAT Megan had canceled the walk through the White Canyon and the Bedouin lunch for lack of time.  We could tour and shop closer to port, instead of going to the monastery. Linda Halpin came and counted noses and said our bus full of people could decide the destination.  Most of us still wanted to see St. Catherine’s.  One lady and her husband left, because she did not want to risk missing the ship.

Our 15-passenger van left at 9:23 with 10 passengers, the driver, and an armed man finely dressed in a suit.  We drove through the Sinai desert, where geological layers in the hills had some green ?copper and other prominent strata.  We were the eighth vehicle in a parade following a police car.
After the 10:45 rest break, the security gentleman was replaced by tour guide Tarak, who introduced driver Mohammed.  He told us there would be a Mosque and the Christian Basilica and for the Jews the burning bush. (One happy family)

Spotted in the distance:  AIN Khudra.  “It’s a beautiful oasis with date palms and water springs that have been home to Bedouin tribes for over one thousand years.”
We drove by a yellow building on a hill.  It was the Tomb of Aaron, brother of Moses.  Muslims call him Haroun.

We arrived at St. Catherine’s about 12:40pm.  “St. Catherine mounts and Moses Mount which is the oldest monastery of Christianity.  It is an Orthodox Greek monastery.  Within its amazing walls rests a citadel like no other, incredibly rich in important religious and historical structures.  Among its treasures is the Museum of St. Catherine, where there are icons attributed to the painter Angelos, one of the most famous artists of the 15th century, or to his peers, as well as six icons by Michael Damaskenos which are considered among the most important works of the Cretan School of the 16th century.”

Had to walk a kilometer uphill to the monastery.  A van taxi came by and offered $1 rides.  I paid the dollar and rode.  Then we waited for the others to arrive.  I asked where Mt. Sinai is, and the direction was pointed out.  Finally we got to go through the narrow stone entrance and see the building of St. Catherine’s Basilica.  Saw the water well of Moses and also the legendary burning bush of the Old Testament in the Bible.  Sure glad to have my hiking stick to help climb up and down staircases.

Buildings were impressive and the sights were important, but my favorite part was the Museum.  The colorful icons were beautiful.  It was already time to start heading back to leave at 1:30pm.  I paid another dollar for the easy ride.  Then waited some more.  A light colored dog had big puppies with her.  It was 2pm when we finally left.  Made a quick rest stop, where the icon shop was popular.  No bookmarks that I really wanted.  David & Jan, who are Catholic, really wanted an icon, so I started to buy one for them.  Then they appeared and chose their own icon and a rosary for Charlotte.
When two more vans joined us, we could caravan back to the port.

People worried about the 4pm last shuttle from the port gate, the 4:30 All Aboard, and the 5pm sail away.
We arrived at the port gate at 4:30pm.  Show passports, X-ray security, then walk back to the ship carrying the boxed lunches that were handed to us when we climbed out of our vans.  No water had been provided during the long drive, but when asked, our guide passed back his own personal jug of water.  Later they did stop and buy bottles of water for each of us.
Now, looking at the long walk back to the ship from the gate, we were welcomed by uniformed ship staff who offered us a ride in a van.  Some of us happily accepted.

Nearing my room, Dodid thanked me for praising him on the Navigator app.  My dining stewards and Prand in the Lido have also expressed appreciation.  The Food & Beverage Director even sent me a sweet note.

I took my hot box lunch to dinner to eat with Charlotte & Bill.  David & Jan ate theirs in their room.  The meal was good soup, chicken, rice, pickled vegetables, pita bread, and hummus.  I enjoyed it with my wine and decaf coffee.

Someone has posted on the internet about security devices seen on the lower promenade deck, because we will be entering potentially dangerous waters.  I have seen nothing.

Tonight’s entertainer was vocalist Magali Dayan.  Love songs and jazz standards from Paris and New York.
My evening is spent sharing photos and writing.  Forgot to mention yesterday that along the west coast of the Suez Canal is my favorite sight, a Christian Church next to a Mosque.
Two dark chocolates tonight, along with news that clocks will move ahead one hour tonight.

Note: this posting came in a little late today, and I think Barbara has had not had time to post any images for the photo gallery but I’m sure that they will be forthcoming. It is now 347 in the morning on the ship and I know she has a full day out of Aqaba, so we wait. JWC

One thought on “Grand Africa, voyage – Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

  1. So very glad you had the tenacity and strength to push for the onward trip to St. Catherine’s. That’s one place in the world I’ve always hoped to go to, and you did it!!!

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