LUXOR TO HURGHADA Fayez, our ever-helpful hotel owner, escorted us down to the bus station and saw us safely aboard the 7:00 AM bus bus to Hurghada. We left on time and followed the Ismael Canal north to Qena. The water from the canal enables a large area of land to be farmed and the surrounding country was rich and productive.

The green farmland was left behind as soon as Qena’s many minarets were lost from sight and was replaced by the austere bareness of the Eastern Desert. This part of Egypt is different from the Western Desert. Its heat and glare are much less intense and the landscape is broken in many places by high, jagged peaks of crumbling rock.

The journey to Hurghada took 4½ hours and as we crested a rise the shimmering blue of the Red Sea came into view, stretching away from the burning shore towards the haze of the Sinai.

Hurghada is a dump! Worse than that, it is a half-built dump. We were besieged with offers of hotels when we alighted at the grotty bus station but we had been advised in advance that the Alaska Hotel was the best place to stay so we sought out the owner among the clamouring mob and clambered aboard his dilapidated van for the short ride to the place. Once there, we spent the rest of the day stretched out in the cool rooms. 

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