Tag Archives: beach

An Egyptian holiday

11 Sep

Egypt is one of those mysterious countries that a lot of people dream to visit. With an ancient history that Egyptologists are still only speculative of, there are many treasures Egypt has to offer. While making our way home to Australia, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to drop in – it was on our way after all – so we too could experience what every visitor raves about.

Taking on a 16-day tour (also including five days in Jordan, a neighbouring country) we were taken around Egypt to visit the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Sphnix, Hurghada and Dahab on the Red Sea, Luxor Valley of the Kings and Karnak Temple, Aswan, Abu Simble temple and many more historic sites, tombs and temples in between. But we’ll focus on our favourite Egyptian experiences we were lucky enough to have while here:

Relaxed Dahab
Starting with Dahab, probably our most favourite city in the whole of Egypt! It has a small beach-town feel (probably because that’s exactly what is it), super-sweet locals and the draw-card for all tourists, the blue-blue waters of the Gulf of Aqaba (part of the Red Sea). We spent our full day in Dahab snorkelling the infamous Blue Hole dive spot. It is exactly that – a 130m-deep hole in the ocean that is about 22m across with coral walls and an abundance of colourful fish. We began snorkelling at a chasm which drops to blue nothingness in a matter of meters from the beach. The visibility is amazing. We could see about 15m below and around us while we slowly snorkelled our way down the beach until we reached the Blue Hole itself. It was spectacular, although Matt has said that it has nothing on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef – our next snorkelling trip for sure!

From the crystal clear ocean to the desert, which we drove Quad bikes through for a couple of hours, becoming dusty versions of ourselves by the time we arrived at our starting point back in Dahab. But we were soon refreshed again for our second night along the main strip, a colourful street full of restaurants, cafes and shops. With ‘mates rates’ including massive portions, free starters (a main meal in themselves), dessert and shisha (that sweet-smelling and tasting tobacco from a water pipe), we enjoyed the good life in the restaurants of this small town. Our time in Dahab came to an end all too soon!

Felucca’ing
The one thing you have to do when in Egypt is a sail on the Nile in a traditional sail boat, the felucca! This experience is either a must-do or must-don’t for pretty much all visitors to Egypt. There is one reason why people don’t – the simplicity of the feluccas means no amenities or toilets. But we loved it. Spending two nights aboard the felucca is an amazing way to relax, something we certainly needed after two super early mornings travelling to Abu Simble temple and hot air ballooning over the Valley of the Kings two consecutive days previously. With nothing else to do but to read, snooze, swim or chat to our fellow felucca-goers, our day on the Nile was one of the best days we spent during our whole time in Egypt.

Fit for a King
Valley of the Kings was another highlight for us.  It is a historic sight is Egypt that is packed with the tombs of nobles and Pharaohs, including King Tutankamun. The temples are brilliantly preserved – hieroglyphics and original colours adorn the temple walls. It’s incredible to see the tombs as they were (although without the treasures) when they were used to mummify the Pharaohs after their death and to send them on to the afterlife, which the Ancient Egyptians passionately believed in.

It’s one of the most interesting sights in Egypt, but with it come vendors…. lots of them! In fact, we came into contact with vendors at all the Egyptian sights offering us camels (for a wife), ‘good prices’ and ‘free to looks’. They love bargaining, now as much as ever since tourism has dropped a massive 95 percent since the revolution began in early 2011. They are screaming for tourists, and we wholly encourage you to go! It’s not only a safe, but an incredible country to visit.

The Great Pyramids of Giza
Why come all the way to Egypt and not see the pyramids?! Yes, crazy people do do this! It’s like going to a water park but not enjoying the rides. What can we say about the pyramids anyway… they are awe-inspiring and it’s quite surreal to see and touch them when after seeing them in movies, in documentaries and in books. Go see them… they are cool!

After Egypt…
After Egypt comes Jordan… so stay tuned for the next blog!

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Girly fun in Portugal

20 Oct

There are a lot of places that we would absolutely love to visit but will probably never get the chance to while we’re still living in London. There is just too many places on the list and let’s face it, we’ve had to prioritize our ‘must-do’ list. But when Kristy and Amy suggested a girls weekend to Lisbon, Portugal, famous for its Portuguese cock (no… a symbol of a rooster… just think Nandos!) in a bid farewell before Kristy returns to the brown land indefinitely, how could I say no? Another city to explore and another country to experience, if only for a weekend. Sorry Matt for leaving you at the airport again, but you just wouldn’t fit in on a girl’s weekend!

We were glad we had all made it to Portugal in the first place after our weekend got off to a stressful start. With Kristy nowhere in sight, Amy and I reluctantly got on the early tube to Heathrow. When we eventually had service on our mobiles, Kristy revealed she had slept through her alarm and was only just leaving her house, whereas we had been on the train for half an hour. Thinking that three may become two, we prayed she was able to make it to the airport on time. Out of breath and incredibly thankful, Kristy made it to the gate just before we boarded.

It still amazes me that we can reach colourful destinations all around Europe within the space of a couple of hours from London. Before we knew it, we were making our way to our hostel in the middle of all the action in the capital of Portugal, Lisbon. Even though it’s small, it really does offer a lot as a city… It has a riverside location and close proximity to the beach, temperate climate, gorgeous tiles that decorate the city’s buildings, peri-peri chicken, delicious wine, old-school trams that still run through the city’s old streets, an active nightlife and a beautiful and colourful cityscape to goggle at. It’s a chilled out city, as well knowing how to party into the wee hours, and we could have easily spent more than just a couple of nights there.

The hostel we stayed at offered pub crawls starting at the respectable time of midnight. The nightlife begins late here. Of course we took advantage and allowed ourselves to be shown the best pubs and clubs that Lisbon had to offer. We put on a bit of glam and danced the early morning hours away; repeating this on the Saturday night. For good measure and of course what every girl’s weekend needs, we threw in sightseeing and (a lot of) shopping in between our nights out. Sleep didn’t really come into the equation much, but when you’re in a city for such a short amount of time, something has to give.

We made a trip to the seaside town of Cascais, which also is the closest beach. It was tiny at that, but there was sun, sand and water. We ate olives, fresh-as-can-be bread with mouth-watering cheese and wine to wash it all down in the afternoon and ate peri-peri chicken for dinner. We visited Belem, a short tram ride from the centre of Lisbon to let our taste buds experience one thing, the delectable warm custard tarts that are famous in Portugal. They are said to be made with a secret ingredient and whatever it is, they taste absolutely incredible with a crunchy pastry on the outside and warm custard filling. Definitely worth the trip. We also went on a tram ride through the old town and got a taste of the hilly and cobbled streets. We walked from the bottom to the top of Lisbon for views over the city and chilled out for lunch with refreshing drinks when the weather got a little too hot. On our last day we visited Sintra, a town in the hills not too far from Lisbon. It’s like the hinterland of Lisbon with a craggy castle that sits atop the biggest hill. It’s a gorgeous town with beautiful buildings including a palace and other mansions.

But alas, before we knew it, we were back on the plane heading to London. That thing that has four letters and begins with ‘W’ was beckoning. Well, we do have to fund our girl’s weekends away somehow… where to next?

Postcards from Greece

2 Jul

The mention of ‘Greece’ conjures all kinds of images in one’s mind: cliff-top villages made up of white-washed houses and buildings, the crystal clear Aegean sea lapping stunning beaches, arid landscapes with conifers, low shrubs and olive groves, brown bikini-clad bodies lying on beach loungers… Believe it all, because it’s true. This is Greece in all it’s postcard-beautiful glory.

The buildings in Greece are probably one of the most photographed. The stark contrast of the blinding white buildings against the deep blue sky is a stunning sight. This is a church we stumbled across in an old village on the island of Santorini. We had to make our way through a labyrinth of narrow streets and climb stairs to reach it. We were on our way to the beach at the time and went on a detour to do some exploring… we were mesmerized with what we found.

The landscape of Greece is beautiful in its own unique way. The land is hilly, dry and, in summer, seems to radiate heat. Low shrubs and conifers dominate the landscape with an olive grove or two thrown in for good measure. Dirty-white farm houses sit on the hills. There is probably a small herd of goats in there as well, essential in order to produce traditional and delicious Greek feta for the equally delicious Greek salad. This pic was taken on the island of Paros – while on the back of a scooter, hence the movement in the shrubs at the bottom of the picture. We hired a scooter for two days to get around the island. A total of 60km of roads circumnavigate the outside of the island, but we crisscrossed through the middle of the island to beaches and back again and we got to see most of the island.

The olive oil in Greece is to die for – we ate plenty of bread smothered in the gold liquid. This pic of an olive tree was taken in Athens on our way up to the Acropolis to get up close to the Pantheon. Olive oil and tourism are two of the main industries in Greece and with their current crumbling economy, these are the industries that will no doubt survive.

The sunsets and the weather in Greece made us feel like we were back at home. It was warm with a cool sea breeze on the islands and sweltering hot in Athens, thanks to being surrounded by concrete. We captured this sunset while at dinner. We had a smorgasbord of fresh seafood, alfresco style and just across the road was the beach and this sunset. No need to say anything more – just look at the picture. It was stunning and not a bad way to end the day.

Mouth-drooling fresh seafood we gorged ourselves on at the restaurant while watching the sunset. Most restaurants offer some sort of fresh and frozen seafood. Everything we eat in Greece is delicious – bread with olive oil for entrée, Greek salad, souvlaki, gyro, battered cheese, squid and calamari, varieties of fish and tender meat is all on the menu. We physically couldn’t finish off this seafood meal and there were eight of us.

Ancient ruins – another thing that makes Greece so beautiful and eyebrow-raising interesting. This is the Ancient Agora in Athens. It is a place that is described as a ‘market place’, a public meeting place and also where the court of law was located back in BC times. The ruins in Athens are dotted throughout the main city area, which allowed us to visit most of them in one day. Typically, we chose the hottest day to run around the city as well with temperatures in their low 30s. Needless to say we were sweating the whole day until the soothing cool of the night set in. The heat was exhausting (I think our bodies have acclimatized to the London weather – anything above 25 seems to knock us about now).

The beaches in Greece are so stunning but I think this has a lot to do with the perfectly clear waters that lap at their shores. The water gently meets the sand and we lay there listening to the tiny waves from our beach loungers. This is the first trip we’ve been on in Europe where we’ve just sat and stayed still; relaxing and spending time doing nothing much at all except for looking at the map and deciding which beach to visit next. This pic was taken at Punda Beach Club, located on the island of Paros. It was so beautiful and relaxing. We dropped in to this beach on our second day on Paros to check it out, it was so good, we returned for a couple of hours the next day to get in more relaxation time before we had to catch our ferry to the next relaxing island.

The beaches on Santorini are beautiful in a different way. They are made up of rocks thanks to the island’s volcanic past. This picture of Red Beach is located right next door to White Beach and Black Beach a bit further down. It’s so unique and it really is this red. There is another black-sand beach further up the island called Kamari – one of the best on the island where we spent time walking along the smooth pebbles and going for a dip in the beautiful clear sea.

Last but not least, Santorini and its cliff-top villages. This place is where postcards were invented. The whole island is just gorgeous and these photos overlooking Oia (top), a village on the northern tip of the island; and Fira (bottom), the main hub of Santorini are the closest we could get to capturing exactly what Greece is all about. The whole place is like a myth, like something we’ve read in books but never quite knew if it was real. We only had two nights in Santorini, but we could have easily spent a whole week soaking up the laid back atmosphere, eating in alfresco restaurants by night and visiting beaches by day.

Greece is right near the top with being our best trip yet; I think it’s easy to see why. It really is the ultimate destination and it certainly lived up to our expectations. This is one country we’d definitely re-visit if we could.

You can see the rest of our Greece photos here: Mykonos/ParosSantorini; Athens.

today was meaningful

a collection of thoughts, life lessons, and days full of meaning.

Liv Hambrett

An Australian Writer in (North) Germany

I am the world's oyster

Photography, Aviation, Nature, Culture, Nikon, Canon, Qantas, Airlines, Emirates, Airports, A380, 747

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Love for hand-knitted & -crocheted beauty. Proud designer & founder of LN|Beanies and LN|Andes, my two knit brands, my two loves.

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