Category Archives: Egypt

Finding Paradise in Dahab – South Sinai

2019c dahab paradiseDahab Paradise
Blue Hole Road
Dahab, Egypt
+20-100-700-2527
http://www.dahabparadise.com
info@dahabparadise.com

A more recent addition to the hotels on the Red Sea Coast of Egypt, Dahab Paradise is a peaceful resort that offers a pleasurable holiday on many levels. Nestled between mountain and sea, it is uncomplicated in its design and landscaped in a way that takes advantage of the beauty and serenity of its natural surroundings. Dahab Paradise can easily be seen as a retreat from the world you left behind and from the touristy boardwalk of Dahab proper. Rooms are simply furnished, offering adequate comfort and amenities. Each of its second level rooms has a private terrace and ground level units include a private patio – each one of them overlooking the inviting turquoise of the lovely pool, and beyond, the immense, deep blue of the sea delights the eye.

With city sounds left in the distance, it becomes a difficult decision – shall we nap, lounge by the pool, walk along the seashore, or wander in the wadi directly accessible from the hotel? Many of the hotel guests have come to take advantage of the world-class diving and wind-surfing that make Dahab such a popular destination. From here one can arrange desert safaris, mountain treks, diving trips, sightseeing trips to Sharm el Sheik or a spiritual journey to Mt. St. Catherine’s. All are within easy reach.

If stillness and relaxation is on your menu, then stay put. For sustenance, the menu at Dahab Paradise Restaurant is tempting, varied, and most satisfying. One can select from traditional Egyptian fare or enjoy the chef’s tasty versions of more international classics. Ingredients are freshly sourced, carefully prepared, and beautifully presented. I would recommend their restaurant even if one is not a guest staying here. It is worth stopping by for lunch, not only for the food but for views of the sea, or for dinner when the grounds are illuminated in the most magical way.

Ah, delightful, soul-restoring Dahab… Just maybe this really is Paradise.

copyright Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

Nile views from the Holiday Inn Maadi

2018c holiday inn maadiHoliday Inn Cairo Maadi
29 Nile Corniche
Maadi 11431
Cairo, Egypt
+20 (2) 2526 0601
http://www.ihg.com

It is always with great anticipation that I return to Egypt. A stay at the Holiday Inn in Maadi, the city where I once lived, satisfies a longing to re-visit a home I loved. I am already familiar with this particular hotel, but it is especially nice to see the renovations that have taken place, giving it a new look while adding to its comfort and convenience. It is located on the Corniche el Nil, a busy boulevard that travels along the banks of the Nile from Cairo to Maadi, about 9 kilometers south of the city center. Once designed to be a garden oasis of villas and gardens, Maadi, in spite of many changes and its rapid growth, still offers a greener, quieter experience seemingly far from the intensity of the city itself.

Fifteen stories high, many of the hotel’s light-filled rooms face the Nile, with unobstructed views of the river. From some of the rooms, the pyramids can be seen on the clearer days. Otherwise, there is a haze that hangs over the city, which can be disappointing at times but still adds to its mystery. Cairo reveals herself slowly as the morning haze lifts, and by evening a view of the sun setting reflected in the Nile is an unforgettable sight.

Dining at the hotel at the end of a day of business meetings or sight-seeing offers a choice of fine Italian, local Egyptian or continental fare. The main restaurant, on the same floor as a terrace swimming pool, overlooks the Nile and is a pleasant place to enjoy a drink in the evening breeze while watching the feluccas sail languidly on the river, an unchanging and soul-restoring scene. And to experience this timeless moment to the fullest, simply cross the Corniche and hire a felucca for a private sunset sail.

A breakfast buffet greets you in a river-view dining room filled with sunshine. Pastries, fresh fruit and yogurts, warm continental dishes for both meat lovers and vegetarians, made-to-order omelets, and loaves of fresh bread – all making the final selection somewhat of a challenge.

But the best part of my stay is the warm, friendly, courteous manner of the staff. The Egyptian welcoming smiles always brighten my day and remind me that I have come home once again.

copyright Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

From Sunrise to Sunset in Sharm el Sheikh

2016c-four-seasons

Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh
1, Four Seasons Boulevard
Sharm El Sheikh, South Sinai
Egypt
http://www.fourseasons.com/sharmelsheikh/

sunriseA magnificent sunrise greets us, blushing with the color of mangoes. What bliss it is to breathe in the perfumed air of sea and garden on our first morning at the Four Seasons Resort! The terrace of Il Frantoio Restaurant is where breakfast is served on this glorious morning. Besides the edible feast that is arranged on their buffet, the menu offers an array of a la carte temptations. So shall I begin with baladi (local) bread, tahina (creamy sesame paste), felafel (fried chickpea patties coated with sesame seeds) and their savory beans, flavored with onions, herbs, and cumin. Or choose the heart-shaped waffles with berries? We will share and while I drink my tea, I gaze at the terraced oasis that leads our eyes to the sea. An arrangement of white villas and chalets undulates amid palm trees, vivid bougainvillea, and desert succulents.

Although we could choose to take an excursion from the hotel pier in a glass-bottomed boat to view a shimmering gallery of colorful sea-life, we opt to take the funicular down to the swimming pool. A glistening turquoise pool winds around the property like a snake in the Garden of Eden, beckoning, tempting… We simply “lounge” in the heated whirlpool. Later, while we rest on the sun lounges, Sayeed brings us cold water and fresh fruit “lollipops.” I feel like I am still floating.

Our chosen activity for the day seems to be self-indulgence, rest and relaxation, and the Four Seasons Resort, like the genie from Aladdin’s lamp, makes our every wish come true. We choose the stairs as our return path back up the hill as it allows us to view the various fan and feather palm trees up close and admire the architecture of a landscape that only Egypt can paint for us. At the spa, my husband rests in the RELAX room on a contoured leather lounge, sipping hot ginger tea. I head for the steam room, where a cloud of eucalyptus-infused vapors engulfs me and washes away any lingering stress that I may have imported with me. By the time I join my husband back in the relaxation room, I have been practically reduced to immobility. I need only read their brochure about their “ultimate pampering” to fall into a dream-filled trance. The “Egyptian Masterpiece” recreates beauty treatments from the ancient world beginning with a carob, cocoa and honey scrub, followed by a massage, an Argan oil hair wrap, ending the ritual in a perfumed bath. Honoring their desert locale and its traditions, their “Bedouin Ceremony” gifts its visitor with a recreation of the Bedouin hospitality for which the Sinai is known. A ritual foot washing in rose water and zatar is followed by a body scrub of black tea, thyme and sage. Rose oil is used for the massage and then one is bathed gently in rose water.

A stay here seems to offer so much more than a mere vacation, more than a place to stay while savoring the delights of the South Sinai. For me, it seems to invite one to journey into a world of inner peace and joy.

To read my books about Egypt, click here:

Morning of Light

Afternoon of Honey

To view my paintings of Egypt, click here:

Ginda Simpson

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All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.

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My Egypt books now available for Kindle through Amazon

Egypt e-book postcard
On September 1, 1993 I was busy with the final packing of my “things” that would go to Egypt with us. Six years later, there were even more “things” to be packed, as we prepared to leave Egypt, the country that had become our home. The real treasures we took away, however, were the memories of Egypt as our home and then those woven together in the years that followed. These I have wrapped lovingly into two books, collections of short stories and artwork.

Read, learn and love with me, as I discover the country that would steal my heart. Come, imagine yourself adrift on the Nile in a white-sailed felucca. Let me take you to see the Sphinx in the middle of the night, to ancient bazaars and crowded marketplaces, to the tranquil countryside where life unfolds, unchanging. Travel along with me on leisurely afternoons honey-lit and sweet, teaching me new insights and ancient wisdoms. Visit South Sinai, a land that stretches beneath a sky and along a sea of endless blue. Accompany me on a pilgrimage to Abydos in search of fertility blessings, discovering over and over again that the best treasures in Egypt cannot be purchased…

My daughter, Bernadette, and I are happy to celebrate these memories with their publication as e-books through NimNam Books, now available for Kindle.

Morning of Light:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N3JXTOO

Afternoon of Honey:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N5Q9UKW

For those of you who do not have Kindles and prefer books in print, Morning of Light, Afternoon of Honey, and When Egypt was our Home are available through Blurb. If you are a new customer, they are offering a 25% DISCOUNT, use code:  SMARTSMALL,

or a 30% DISCOUNT on orders of $100, using code: STARTBIG. Offers expire October 18, 2014. Preview and order books at: http://www.blurb.com/search/site_search?search=ginda+simpson&filter=all&commit=Search

Living the Dream – at the Old Cataract, Aswan

The Old CataractSofitel Legend Old Cataract
Abtal El Tahrir Street
Aswan, Egypt
+2-097-231-6000
http://www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-1666-sofitel-legend-old-cataract-aswan/index.shtml

A chilled glass of karkade, a beautiful ruby-red hibiscus tea, is offered as a welcome treat the moment we arrive at the legendary Old Cataract. I cross the terrace, entranced. How often have I sat on this terrace in the past, brief visits, dreaming that someday I would have the privilege of staying here as a guest? A friend once suggested that dreams should be marked on our calendars – appointments with our destinies. I liked that idea and here I am. I am thrilled to discover that we have been given a large suite, with a stunning view of the Nile from our balcony.    Within our gaze, on the western bank, are reminders of Aswan’s multi-layered past – we overlook Elephantine Island, home of the ancient Nilometer and witness to the cult of Khnum, god of the cataract and inundation. Remains of ancient temples stand solid, silent testimonials to Egypt’s glorious past.   In the distance, we have evidence of the Islamic in the domed mausoleum of Agha Khan III, leader of the Ismaili sect of Islam and there too are reminders of Coptic Christianity in the fortress-like ruins of the Monastery of St. Simeon founded in the 7th century. My eye travels a little further north and finds the colorful mud-bricks homes of a Nubian village.    History, religion, culture – it is all here.    I take it in ever so slowly, but what really captivates me is the overall view – the distant mauve-colored desert backed by an infinite blue sky, the rocky islands, the great river iridescent in the bright sunshine, and most of all the triangular white sails of the feluccas drifting lazily with the winds, the only movement that breaks the stillness of the morning. It is a banquet for the senses.

I feel like a child that has been taken by the hand to the pastry shop, given permission to choose as many sweets as I want. Do I choose to walk in the shaded gardens amid the date palms, mimosas, broad-leaved banana trees and oleanders or sunbathe by the pool that overlooks the Nile, with a frosty lemon drink in hand, and watch the languid passage of the sailing vessels?   Built in grand Victorian style in 1899, the Old Cataract is indeed legendary, its existence forever linked to the British occupation of Egypt. We dine our first evening at its 1902 Restaurant.  Back in its day, there was an orchestra discreetly seated in a gallery hidden from the view of its 200 elegantly-attired guests who came to dine and to dance.  The opening ceremony of the restaurant was held in 1902, hence its name, and was attended by men and women of prominence, including the sovereign of Egypt, the Duke of Connaught, Lord and Lady Cromer, Sir Winston Churchill as well as many other dignitaries.  The restaurant has recently undergone an extensive renovation, restoring every detail of its original design – a Moorish hall with red and white traditional interior arches supporting its 75-foot dome.   It is softly lit and simply magical.   There is no orchestra, but the piped-in classical music succeeds in transporting us back in time, to a more graceful, less stressful era.

I try not to miss even a single detail of its interior – the mashrabeyya, the colorful stained glass, the pierced brass Oriental lanterns, floating like stars above our heads. The arrival of an amusebouche brings my attention back to the table. The chef has prepared a little something to tease our taste buds before embarking on a culinary journey at his most capable hands – a delectable goat cheese salad, lobster bisque, baked sea bass, and duck with Marsala.   The cuisine is French, artfully plated, and excellent by any standard. We have left no room for their selection of cheeses or rich desserts, but cannot say no to the chef’s offer of a fresh strawberry granita served in a tiny stemmed goblet.

There is such pleasure in the details, none of which seem overlooked here at the Old Cataract. Breakfast on the terrace is the perfect way to begin one’s holiday.   We are welcomed with a chilled glass of guava juice to sip as we drink in the most beautiful vista on earth!   We enjoy an assortment of breads and pastries, fruit and cheese, eggs and coffee. We are in no hurry to be tourists. We have been blessed with the opportunity to see the sights many times in the past – Philae Temple, Elephantine Island, the Aswan Dam, the unfinished obelisk….. This time, we are simply going to savor the Old Cataract as our destination and Aswan as if it were our neighborhood. We are simply going to live the dream…

In the words of Khalil Gibran:

“The most beautiful thing in life is that our souls remain hovering over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves.”

This story appears in my book, “Afternoon of Honey” which you can preview and order by clicking on the link.

Afternoon of Honey  cover Afternoon of Honey

 

 

 

More about my other books.

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All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.

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This is for you, fellow Egypt lovers

In the words of Khalil Gibran:

“The most beautiful thing in life is that our souls remain hovering over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves.”

So this is for you, fellow Egypt lovers:

TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE.

Morning of Light coverMorning of Light

 

 

Afternoon of Honey  cover Afternoon of Honey

 

 

When Egypt was our Home WHEN EGYPT WAS OUR HOME.

Visit my bookstore to preview and enjoy shared memories.

http://www.blurb.com/user/store/Ginda1221

CODE: BETTER25

 

What’s better than a beautiful Blurb book? Two beautiful books. Buy two books and we’ll give you 25% off your order plus we’ll throw in free ground shipping (or take $10 off expedited or next day shipping)†. More is merrier with Blurb. Offer good through December 2, 2013.**

† A $1.99 per additional unit ground shipping charge will be applied on orders of more than 2 books

The Luxor Winter Palace – past and present pleasures

2012c Old Winter Palace 4

The view from the Winter Palace Garden
                     Original watercolor painting – copyright Ginda Simpson

Sofitel Luxor Winter Palace
Corniche el Nile Street
Luxor, Egypt
+20-95/238-0425
http://www.sofitel.com

Seated in a plump old-fashioned arm chair in this sumptuous parlor known as the Victoria Lounge, I contemplate the long history of the Winter Palace, built in genuine Victorian style 1886, its grand façade facing the western bank of the Nile. I sit here, 126 years later, imagining the stories this old queen could tell me. Celebrities, royalty, artists, writers, adventurers and history-makers have all stayed here and left their marks: most notably Howard Carter who announced to the world the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922 from this very hotel. Built under the supervision of Thomas Cook International, the Winter Palace was a well-established hotel already by that year, but Carter’s magnificent discovery brought in its wake a flood of visitors eager to see for themselves the riches of ancient Thebes: the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut’s Temple and the Colossi of Memnon. It became one of the world’s true “destination” hotels, offering a sun-filled holiday and a glamorous social life to the elite who came to “winter” here.

Today, the Winter Palace is replete with the old-world charm of its illustrious past. The queen is still here, showing her age, but sharing her grace and wisdom. Her dress may be a little frayed and her pearls may lack their original luster, but oh, what good company she is. Visitors today do not have the luxury of time to spend a winter here, but many come to stay for a day or two before embarking on a Nile Cruise, or at the end of their river journey, when they can indulge in a longer stay. Constructed in 1997, the Pavillion Winter Palace wing with its garden views is a lovely addition, with all the modern amenities that the most discerning guest would expect.

The extensive garden is lush with both indigenous and exotic trees, shrubs, and flowering plants, serving as the most delightful outdoor parlor for those who wish to meet for tea, a tranquil escape from the commotion of modern-day Luxor. For those who seek solitude and quiet, the grounds are spacious enough to serve as a perfect hide-away. A sparkling swimming pool beckons at the far end of the garden, its blue waters mirroring the sky above. I remove my shoes and stroll on the velvet green lawn, beneath the towering palms in the midst of lush bougainvillea. A gardener appears out of nowhere and hands me a freshly-picked blossom, wishing me a nice stay… It is a tender gesture in a timeless place, where hopefully the future will carry on with the gentile ways of the past. I think the queen would nod her approval.

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All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.

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