What I learned while on a package holiday in Hurghada

Maybe you are expecting a bit more than just a ‘What I learned in ..’ post after a one week trip to Egypt to an all inclusive 5* (local) resort. Actually at the start of my vacation I hadn’t even that in mind. But after spending one week exclusively inside the resort, besides the three times I had to leave in search of a SIM card, there is not much to tell. I didn’t stay inside the resort out of ignorance but due to the fact that this was already my fourth trip to this country.

I had done the sights years ago, which included a Nile cruise with two days in Cairo at the beginning, and am therefore of the opinion that I’ve seen it all. And racing around the desert on a quad is not fun on your own. So a week at a resort is not really that interesting to most readers, but I found that there were some special lessons for me during this trip. I’ve therefore decided to put it all in a ‘What I learned in …’ and be done with it. Hopefully it will all make sense to you. Yours, Pollybert

PS: Still not a fan of package holidays, but sometimes it’s just more convenient.

1.) Even though the hotel was across from the airport, I rarely heard any planes.

2.) Pick-up for the transfer to the airport was more than four hours before departure, although the airport was only 7km away.

3.) The five star resort provided free internet to all its guests only in the lobby and the adjacent terrace. Everywhere else you needed to pay for access.

4.) Due to the limited internet access I bought a 16GB SIM card. Or so I was told since neither price nor GB volume were anywhere indicated on the package. As it turned out though, the card was empty after four days. My phone showed me a usage of 8,5GB, the seller insisted I had used 16GB. So I got a new one, again 16 GB which lasted for 2 days. Honestly, these guys can tell you anything they want and ‘show’ you proof, you can never verify it unless you read and understand Arabic. So beware of that when you buy a SIM card.

a crook and a liar the seller of SIM cards @Hurghada

5.) I actually went back again and made a super complaint. I can get very angry if I want to. They overcharged me by at least 15EUR. I am all for supporting the local economy but they still lied to me when I told them I knew that they had lied because I googled it. So buy your SIM card only at a licensed shop like a the air port and then check the messages with google translate.

6.) The Grand Palace hotel was empty compared to its size. Nonetheless, as a single female traveler, I got a room overlooking the tennis courts despite countless rooms facing the pool landscape.

7.) The hotel had not a single female employee. Only men, and that in droves, catered to the tourists whims.

8.) Sometimes though these men found it necessary to let the single female traveler know that a second beer is not a good idea. I found it more than belittling, besides totally unprofessional.

9.) The first and only working females I saw where at the airport.

10.) Security checks at the airport were separate for males and females. But also there it’s the men who sit behind the screen and the women were only allowed to do the checks on female passengers.

11.) You are not allowed to bring a full store-bought bottle of water through security but you can bring your full refill bottle with. If you prove that it’s water inside by taking a sip.

12.) Whoever wrote about heated pools in their reviews for the Grand Palace must have thought about the showers. The sea was warmer than any of the pools in the resort. And even the sea was too cold to swim.

pool area @The Grand Palace

13.) I was wearing the same wool jacket the whole week. Also used it as blanket over my bikini. Especially when one of the many male workers passed by.

14.) With no wind it can get very hot in the sun, despite only 20 degrees Celsius.

15.) The resort had five specialty restaurants and I didn’t visit any of them. Who wants to eat Italian or Asian food while in Egypt?

16.) It’s astonishing how the kitchen of the resort managed to serve low quality food on a daily basis. Every roast was so dry that it felt as if the animal had been killed twice. Everything else was sloppily displayed or just looked plain awful. None of the dishes ever saw any butter. This was especially disgusting in mashed potatoes and desserts.

17.) Egyptian local beer is a weak and a slightly sweet drink. But the wine was worse, so I stuck with the beer.

18.) It’s rather uncomfortable to lie poolside in your bikini and an army of male workers passes by constantly. Most of them looking, some overtly ogling, some covertly.

19.) After six days of asking and ogling the many hawkers in the resort took notice that I was not interested in buying a tour, a massage, or a beauty treatment. Still not sure how else to advertise my disinterest if not by constantly reading and not looking up. If any of you have a better idea, let me know.

trying to relax with a book @The Grand Palace

20.) There was no beach so to speak of in my resort. Thinking about going for runs along the beach (like I had done during a previous resort trip to Tunisia) evaporated on first sight. Someone said it is all due to the terror attacks in 2016 and 2017. Not sure if that would have made a difference at this resort.

21.) No beach meant no running, because I was not willing to run in shorts through Hurghada. I was already fed up with the ogling inside of the resort and didn’t want to expose myself to more of that outside of it.

22.) The resort looked impressive at first sight but was slightly grimy upon closer inspection. Despite countless male cleaners wooshing around, the side tables next to the pool loungers never lost their sticky ‘rings’ from the drinks people had the days before.

outdoor area of the Grand Palace @Hurghada

23.) Most annoying were the male cleaners in the bathroom who always happened to be there when I wanted to use the facilities. There was even one cleaner who didn’t want to leave.

More irritating was though that the bathrooms were never really clean. So either women are pigs or men are just sloppy cleaners.

24.) Being completely lazy for a week, not that I move around so much more at home in recent months, motivated and fortified my will to finally get the beach body I still see myself having. So upon my arrival back home, I will go for a run and will start doing daily exercises (the run didn’t happen so far, but the daily exercises are).

25.) Was there anything I liked? Yes. It was an adults only hotel and the lack of children was the best feature. Definitely something I will keep in mind for future trips.

26.) Would I recommend the Grand Palace Hotel to anyone else? No, for sure not. Actually I have also decided that I will only go back to Egypt once I am dried up and shriveled. Might still take a while.

27.) Taking everything into account what I wrote before, I still loved being in the sun for a week in February. Plus I read five books. What more do you want from a vacation?

empty beach @The Grand Palace

Let me know what you think

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