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Archive for May, 2010

I love London

We went to the London Transport Museum and me and Emmett played on a virtual train driver game that you had to stop at stations and pick up people like on the real London underground train.  If there is one big city in the world that I can live in it would be London.  We got a pet match box that does tricks and opens by itself.  We are getting our camper tomorrow and the first thing we will cook will be pasta with cream, pine nuts and spinach.  Mum bought a book called 1000 things for kids to do in the holidays.   I got a vegetarian cookbook at the supermarket.

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Getting new flippers

I got new flippers today because my first pair broke (how it happened is told in yesterdays post).  There was a fish that we have never seen before in this bay, it is about 40 cm long (2o in) and it has a long snout, it lies on the bottom it is very skinny.  There are a lot of pipe fish now about 60 to 70 they have come in very fast considering there was only2 the first day we were here.  We are watching the third star wars today and according to me it is the most scary of 1,2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.  I have to do 6 sentences for my diary but Emmett only has to do 2 but I think that is unfair because I am only 3.5 years older than Emmett who is 6.5 years old and but Florence is 2.5 so we might have to write the amount of sentences that the first born after us is old.  This was 5 sentences but on this one I will not put a full-stop so it is not a proper sentence 🙂 |-)

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Hurghada

We have ended our Egypt trip two days early to avoid British Airways strike action. I am disappointed to miss out on seeing Alexandria but ready to leave Egypt. Our family really enjoyed seeing the famous Egyptian sites and holidaying by the Red Sea. We have been less impressed by the absence of women from public life here and also by the attitudes of the men working in the tourism industry and hotels.

As Bede said, people tease the children incessantly, men also offer to marry Florence multiple times a day and try to carry her off or bride her to cuddle them before they’ll hand out a beach towel etc. There is also this pervasive attitude that they know what we want better than we do, rather than the “customer is always right” attitude we are more familiar with. In all three 4 star establishments we stayed in in Egypt we ran out toilet paper regularly and had to ask for more and the public toilets would always be out too – I’ve never stayed in hotels of this calibre and had these problems before (or in fact in camping grounds with this problem – more our usual style…).

Our hotel in Hurghada had large signs up everywhere saying we could not bring in food from other establishments as their restaurant met all food needs. It plainly did not, serving only cheese on toast or pizza for vegetarians and stopping serving pizza at 5pm. We found all the food in Hurghada decidedly average until we found a Pita place on the last day (Pita and Sphinx) that served delicious felafel and also did not reek of rancid cooking fat.

Our week has been spent on the beach and Emmett especially looks rejuvenated and relaxed. He says he likes Mahunga (where his grandparents bach is in NZ) better though!

It was too windy to go out snorkelling on a boat trip all week except one day when we thought we’d wait for the next day as the whole hotel was getting on the boat – unfortunately the wind returned so we missed out, however there were plenty of fish to see in the little bay our beach was in and that was just fine for the children. Florence has nearly mastered her snorkel and mask – she might get a shock at English sea water temperatures though!

We have a big list of things to organise in London before picking up our camper on Thursday so are quite relieved to have a couple of extra days there. Got to get the GPS on the cellphone working before we get behind the wheel! Bede has also been out of reading material for several days and has had to resort to reading Leah’s Clive Cussler which is not really working for him, so a second hand book shop is on the list of things to do.

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There are Jellyfish in the bay today me and Emmett caught them and Emmett got in trouble because he went down a bit where there are big waves.  I think that the Jellyfish only come in our little bay on not windy days and pipe-fish come in on windy days.  We saw sea-horses that look like sea-snakes and they suck the weed off rocks and rope in the water.  Florence calls herself FFFFFFFFborence and she likes to put Spencer and Ria to bed.  Tomorrow we are going to go on a boat and look at lots of fish out of sight of land.  Florence used her snorkel in the baby pool and then used her goggles to do her sit swim technique.

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Hurghada

I think this post needs few words…

Hurghada May 2010

Florence in the Red Sea

Sandcastle at Hurghada

Knights protect the sandcastle

Bede buries Florence

Emmett's Sphinx and Pyramid

Bede and Florence head out for dinner

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Snorkeling in the Red Sea May 2010

Leah brought a 3.5 G internet stick last night and I spent the whole day on the computer playing games like legends of Zork and Gibbets 2.  I can’t wait to get to a place where people don’t tease Flo for fun like they pick her up and pretend to throw her into the pool just to here her scream.  We got snorkels and flippers but my flipper snapped when I was walking backwards and I tripped over a sandcastle.  Me and Emmett play ninjas and we hit a boogie board.  When we go snorkeling we see pipefish and they are scary looking.  Emmett and Flo drew stripes on their faces and pretended to be tigers and pretended to eat mum up.

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Egyptian Tales

Our second day sightseeing in Cairo was spent at the Egyptian Museum.  The children were thrilled to discover that there was a newly opened children’s museum and so spent some time looking at treasures from Tutankhamen’s tomb and then raced down to find out what was in the children’s area.   There were well thought out displays that were actually much easier for even adults to take in than the overwhelming museum itself.  Best of all for our deprived children there was lego and so we spent a solid three hours playing with lego in the museum!

Filling in time between the museum closing and catching our night train to Aswan we stopped in at a shopping mall where Leah found some lovely clothes for Florence who was starting to look more than a little scruffy in her well worn 3 tops, apparently we’re going back to outfit the boys on our way back through Cairo.  The children found something even better – a McDonald’s playground, all air-conditioned and all.  Bede who was sadly too tall ate a Sundae while the littlies had a ball!  I don’t think they’ve been to McDonald’s with me before…  Not planning to make it a habit – that’s Papa’s thing!

We had some serious drama at the train station waiting for the train.  There was suddenly people running around everywhere on the station all yelling the same thing in Arabic.  Turns out they were yelling “fire”, which our guide kindly translated while dragging us all out the door.  Leah was a little further down the platform with Florence and got to watch them shooting out the window of the burning carriage to get to the fire – she couldn’t see the fire though so was moving away from the gunfire at some speed to say the least!

To our stunned New Zealand eyes they put out the fire, loaded all the passengers back onto the train (not our posh tourist one – a local shabby one) and off they went.  We had been thinking that our train would be delayed by hours, but no, it pulled in just after the fire and off we went!

The kids found sleeping on the train a real adventure, little sleep was had by the adults though.  The beds were comfortable but a bit narrow for Anna and Flo to have much space.

We dropped our bags at our cruise ship next morning, to Florence’s delight we sailed on the MS Florence! We headed off to see some of Aswan’s sights.  Emmett enjoyed the High Dam and we were amused by the guide proudly telling us they now use 100% of the Nile’s water rather than letting any be wasted flowing to the Mediterranean.  We took a boat ride to Phila temple and found some graffiti from previous tourists centuries ago.

The next day and a half were spent chilling out by the pool on our ship and sleeping.  We checked in at Kom Ombu temple but could not be convinced to get out of bed at 6am to see Edfu temple further down the Nile.  In Luxor we went to The Valley of the Kings, it was such an incredibly stinking hot day – I’m guessing over 50 degrees – that even we Ceduna hardened folks were wilting!  We did enjoy the tombs, but were very disappointed we couldn’t even photograph the kids outside them or on the train on the mountain (I’m not sure if it’s a national security thing or what).   I was terrified when the lights suddenly went out in the depths of one of the Ramses underground tombs when I wasn’t holding Florence’s hand – that was enough tomb raiding for me!  We also saw Karnak temple, home of the oldest swimming pool on earth apparently – pity we couldn’t get in, it was so hot my feet were burning from the heat of the ground through the soles of my Keen’s.

We had two flights from Luxor to Cairo then on to Hurghada, where we are now planning on doing very little but swim and snorkel for a week.  Next week we have a day in Alexandria and a day in Cairo before heading back to London to catch a train to Derby and pick up our camper van.  So what have we learned about guided sightseeing with children this week?  Actually it has been really pleasant but there have been a couple of key things about that!  Firstly, we did about half what the guides thought we could fit in a day and found that worked well.  Secondly, ipod touches have been very helpful, when I want to hear what the guide has to say and Bede is not so interested, Harry Potter audiobooks work wonders.  Thirdly, we’ve listened to the kids, it’s their trip too, they’ve been really respectful about letting us hear what we want to hear and we’ve not dragged them through more temples when they were done.

Despite all the ads here about the great high speed internet the connection is cruddy and very expensive so I’ll probably be only online intermittently this week.  If I find a spot where it’s better I’ll get some more photos up!

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