Show your world: A waterslidingtastic holiday to Egypt

A couple of years ago we decided to take advantage of the brilliant value – not to mention pretty well guaranteed all-day sunshine – that is Egypt and booked a holiday to the resort of Hurghada. I had been to Egypt before, to dive in Dahab and a couple of days visiting Cairo. But this time, with two, active children, we decided to chose our hotel based on one thing: the number of waterslides provided!

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In the end we went for Jungle Aqua Park – which had a huge waterpark attached and also offered countless swimming pools and about eight all-inclusive buffet restaurants. Sadly the quality of the food didn’t live up to the size of the water park, but nevertheless with so much choice, we always found something to eat.

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One of the gorgeous pools at the resort

Fun in the pool

Fun in the pool

While we were in Hurghada, we booked a few trips out of the resort (after all, watersliding has its limits!). This included a great snorkelling trip we made to the nearby Red Sea – which involved spending most of the day on the boat or in the water. Sadly, one of my daughters is not a fan of salt water and has never really taken to snorkelling. The younger one though absolutely loved putting her head under the sea and watching the beautiful jewelled fish and waving corals.

DSCF0012 - CopyWe also took a trip out into the desert one evening – certainly a trip we weren’t going to forget! It started with a hair-raising race through the sand, over dunes and rocks….we did wonder what their health and safety level was like….

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When we finally ended our initial bone-rattling drive in the dry desert heat, we were taken to an enormous sandune which we climbed from one side… DSCF0053and then….

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…ran down the other! The tour guide took us on to meet some of the local desert bedouin living nearby, a fascinating mix of the ancient and the modern, the old ways and the new. My daughters loved seeing how these ancient people still lived – and also enjoyed tasting their just-baked flat bread (stones and all!).

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The next part of the trip saw us climbing a nearby hill to watch the sun set in the stilness.

DSCF0087While nearby, tribesmen prepared their evening meal.

DSCF0084The evening ended with a simple meal and then the most magical experience looking at the stars. I can’t show a photograph of this but lying on the still-warm desert ground, staring up into the velvet black punctuated by millions and millions of bright stars, the milky way so clear that it made you feel dizzy with the knowledge of what was out there…this is something that will stay with me always.

We managed another trip to a museum in the next door hotel which, we were told, was holding some of the antiquities from the Cairo museum, to keep them safe whilst there were all the problems in the capital.

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But to be honest, the thing the girls loved best was…..

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Anyone else holidayed in Egypt? What did you think?

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Show your world: The Beautiful Florida Keys

We’ve just returned from two weeks in Florida and I’m still suffering the affect of jet-lag (so apologies for any mistakes in this post – my brain and my fingers aren’t joining too well at the moment). It was a wonderful, fun-filled week in the theme parks followed by a slowed-down relaxing few days by the water on Key Islamorada. Just the perfect anecdote to all that roller-coastering and non-stop walking in the blistering heat. I can’t recommend Islamorada highly enough, it really was a beautiful, calming and suprisingly un-commercialised place.

La Jolla beach motel, Key Islamorada

La Jolla beach motel, Key Islamorada

We stayed in a small, up-dated 1950’s motel called La Jolla right on the water front and from the moment we got there we were entranced by the wildlife in and around the sea surrounding the site. Nurse sharks, sting ray, flocks of parrot fish, jacks, groupers, snapper and many, many more types of fish swam around in front of the dock where we would sit swinging our feet out over the crystal clear water. Pelicans. seagulls and other birds came by for a visit, while in the trees above huge iguanas slept peacefully in the warm sun.

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But best of all, in the early misty light of the day, coffee in hand, we watched first manatees and later dolphins swim gracefully past our front door. The motel had kayaks free for guest use so once we knew roughly what time these beautiful creatures were due to visit we lay in wait, then grabbed a paddle at the first tell-tale sight of either the  bubbles emerging from the lolloping manatees or the distinctive blowing sound and v-shaped ripples of the dolphins. To kayak alongside these animals as they swam playfully past, below and away from us was a magical privilige.

Kayaking, La Jolla resort. Key Islamorada. Florida

Kayaking, La Jolla resort. Key Islamorada. Florida

Another highight of our stay were the evening sunsets – truely magnificent, whether at the end of a clear, blue day or on a moodier evening, when the dark clouds backdropped against the blood-red sky. The morning light, too, was breathtaking and even on one of those cloudy days the slate grey of the sky reflected in the water gave an eerie, other-worldy quality to the scene.

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As well as swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, sun-bathing, relaxing, beer-drinking and sunset-watching, we did manage a few trips during our stay in the keys – including right down to Mile 0 at Key West and on our last day, a memorable trip to the Everglades. But I think I’ll save those for another post!

This post is part the Show Your World series on Tiny Expat’s blog.

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Show Your World: Snowdonia

Fellow blogger Tiny Expat’s series Show Your World invites you to post about a place that you have visited, whether it be close to home or a distant destination. A few months from now I figure I’ll have plenty of “exotic” destinations to post about, whether it be South African safaris, Namibian deserts or Mozambique beaches. So I thought I would show off a place a little closer to home, but a place that’s just as worth visiting. It may not have the guaranteed sunshine or the wild animals but there’s still plenty to recommend about Snowdonia.

Best known as the home to Wales’ tallest mountain, Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia has become a magnet for adventure tourists wanting to climb the mountain, canoe, kayak, rockclimb or just walk in the surrounding area. We were actually there for my husband to zoom down the zipwire at Zipworld, apparently the longest zipwire in the country:

Can you see him?

Can you see him?

But while we were there we took the opportunity to soak up the gorgeous scenary

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Which included a walk up the Great Orme of Llandudno on a stunning blue day

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History seeps from the veins of Wales and round every corner we found a castle. Here is the castle at Conwy, a beautiful example of what so many of the now-ruined fortresses would once have looked like

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Finally on the last day, we went deep into the forest for a tree-top adventure which, I think, was the highlight of the holiday for our two daughters:

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My Travel Monkey

Beautiful Clearwater

I’m cheating a bit this morning and combining two events – photo 101’s theme of the day “moment and motion” and Tiny’s Expat’s weekly Show Your World. [edited to say: I have now added a third event: Monday Escapes]

Clearwater is on the Gulf coast of Florida, about two hour’s drive from Orlando. We visit Florida a lot – my husband’s only living relative, his brother, lives there so we try and get there as often as we can. But while we all enjoy the theme parks and the roller coasters, there is so much more to this beautiful state than just Disney and Orlando. One of the things we love more than anything is getting AWAY from the Brit tourists and discovering the “wilder” side of Florida. Of course Clearwater isn’t exactly wild, nor is it getting away, but it does have the most beautiful beach.

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Here my two daughters are running with pure joy across the cool, white sand – joy at the space and the feeling of the soft powder beneath their bare feet.

Later we walked on the splendid pier that stretches out into the sea, watching the fishermen being dive bombed by pelicans and the groups of friends and families waiting for the sun to go down. I managed to snap this picture of a seagull passing – looking, no doubt, for any tasty morsel dropped by bird or man.

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We’re going back to Florida soon, for one last trip before we head to South Africa. I can already feel the heat of the sun on my shoulders, hear the sounds of the children squealing in the swimming pool, taste the first beer as we salute the evening,  smell  the fried hash browns of the diner breakfasts, see the huge ocean and the bright sky. I can’t wait.

Have you been to Florida – and if so, have you managed to escape from the maddening crowds? Do you have any suggestions for special places to visit?

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My Travel Monkey