From the ferry terminal, we head directly into Sharm El Sheikh.
From the highway, Sharm doesn’t look very different from Hurghada, with a ring of resorts spreading out from the sea’s sandy shore.
Sharm is a slightly gaudy, over-developed, and sort of cheesy tourist trap of great magnitude. It has the look of a place on the make.
Still, it seems like a happy place, it is bright and cheery, with welcoming restaurants and bougainvillea-draped alleys.
I like it.
It seems like a fun place to relax and soak in the sunshine. And not everything here is aimed at the lowest form of western tourist either. Here and there a bit of more exotic-seeming local merchandise can be found amid the otherwise generic international tourist mix.
I imagine myself renting a cheerful spot here, with a view of the ocean and mountains, where I could cook flavorful meals after a day spent playing in the sea or wandering about town.
Even though Sharm has had its own troubles over the years, it seems like one of those total vacation lands where thoughts about world politics or poverty or injustice recede completely, replaced by thoughts of good food, sunshine, and tropical waters. Sometimes that is exactly what is called for on vacation.
It is also a place where great seafood can be found – and that always earns a city a few points from me! We get to sample some of that seafood at Safsafa, which is located on the second floor of a shopping mall in the tourist heart of the town. (It’s that sort of town.)
Lunch is amazing.
We start with the ubiquitous, but wonderful, flat bread and condiments. Soon that is joined by a lovely soup that is a meal in and of itself. Then there is salad and then, when I am already full, heaping plates of succulent fried fish, shrimp, and calamari. It is too much, but it is so delicious.
Stuffed, we board the bus and head into Sinai’s mountains.