It’s been a great recent travel experience from September to November: South Africa, Kenya Safari, Egypt, Nile cruise and the Piece de Resistance; the All Inclusive resort on the Red Sea; Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera. We decided to switch from Sharm El Sheikh to Hurghada when the Climate Control Conference (COP 27) jumped on top of our already planned and confirmed dates. With over 200 countries being represented, it wouldn’t have been a good time. At any rate, Hurghada was the bomb diggity but next year it’s Sharm; the one destination I have longed to visit. We will be at Rixos All Inclusive with her 8 swimming pools, 1 indoor, 9 a la carte restaurants, 11 bars and for the young at heart an Aquaventure Park. So if you’ve signed up for next years Egyptian Odyssey, add on the 4 night extension. It’s a mere 1 hr flight from Cairo but in another world. The flight is included as well as your last night in Cairo in preparation for your flight home.
I’m happy to see so many Kat Trackers experiencing Business Class lately. You cannot beat those lay flat seats. Yes, a bed not a seat is the way to go. Emirates Business Class is super nice but Qatar has since been voted #1 in the world. They even have sliding doors on the QSuite lay flat seats. Singapore is #2; the food, spaciousness of your seat area, and their flight attendants are so attentive. Carol, Myron and I can vouch for that on the Australia trip. Emirates is #4 behind ANA. I was disappointed in Emirates space on the A380, and the 777 it was tight, the food presentation was on hit but choices and taste left a lot to be desired. The lounge on board is slick but being a non drinker I couldn’t care less. If there is any way you can treat yourselves at anytime, Business Class is the ticket. Post pandemic flights are soaring, up by 43%. In February SFO to Dubai on Emirates was less than 4K round trip but now it’s 8K
Remember to treat yourself, don’t cheat yourself. You only live once and you sure cant take it with you. The down side is, once you get a taste of it, it’s hard to go back to economy. Like in Ma & Pa Kettle: “How ya gonna keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Par-ree?”
My suggestion though for flights to Cairo next year , be it economy or Business; for convenience and ease, fly EgyptAir nonstop from JFK. Go the day before, spend the night in NY and start fresh the next day. Those will be the group flights. Their arrival and departure times cannot be beat.
I am asking you to share this story with my fellow travelers in your group. I just want to make sure you know why I have been hanging with you since 1995. I also feel that others may feel the same way. There are numerous horror stories about travel and Black travelers for sure, as this article so clearly points out, need to be cautious about who they are dealing with.
I am assured my experience with you is what you say it will be and typically MORE!
I love you girl and all you do. I thank you for your diligence in making sure we have and enjoy a stellar experience. I know my money is invested in the best of experiences.
Our last full day in this seaside resort town we opted for a city tour. It was about 40 mins from the Steigenberger Ras Soma. En route we saw tons of new construction for mega hotels and resorts. The town was bustling with tourists mainly Europeans, lots of shops & restaurants. The view from the top was amazing and the Marina would make you think you were in south of France; a very cool area to stroll and dine. Here are a few parting photos. I look forward to next years extension in Sharm el Sheikh which I understand is better. Until next time, take care & Happy Thanksgiving 🍁🦃
This morning as I watch the pool attendant do his daily maintenance on my private pool, I reflect on the serene events of yesterday. It began with 2 hrs of spa treatments at the Midvida Spa, followed by lunch at Maya Seafood Restaurant at the edge of the sea.Talk about service- the designated beverage young lady, Sara remembered each drink we ordered the day before. Well my tonic water was easy but Jan & Wilemma had instructions.Amazing! Jan informed me there was a cancellation on the yellow glass bottom snorkeling boat. So a quick run to the room to change, advise AJ and we were on our way for another amazing adventure. This was a private excursion. Yes, I love me some private. Jan & AJ were down for the snorkeling but my choice was to enjoy the ride and view the underwater life through the glass; colorful fish and scuba divers from nearby boats. Our qualified Captain, Adam a transplant from Cairo hit his playlist of Alexander Oneil, Joe, Me’Lissa Morgan and it was on for me. We asked Adam, “What do you know about this music”? He said once he heard Joe he was hooked and just started searching. He also informed us he does not like Cairo because not enough of his “color and people act differently than what he likes, however he loves the quiet suburb of Heliopolis ( where my colleague Tarik’s office is located) . I can vouch, it is nice. Once Jan & AJ emerged from the deep, all I could hear was “awesome, amazing, the sights were unbelievable, the best snorkeling ever”. I was on straight cruise control, enjoying the music as I reflected on the past 15 days with an amazing group with positive energy. Everybody was a star but the brightest star of all was the coolest cat, cooler than the other side of a pillow; Mr Elvin Crum. He is a stranger to no one. I gotta talk to his agent, Mrs Crum about putting him on the Kattrax Tours payroll. It’s been a wonderful tour, now on to the next episode.
The group departed last night on various flights to their respective home towns. Jan, Wilemma, Wanda, Alton and myself flew 1 hr from Cairo to Hurghada. Hurghada is located on the coast of the Red Sea and one of Egypt’s most popular tourist destinations. She has beautiful beaches and perfect crystal clear waters. Normally the water is an intense blue-green; occasionally it is populated by algae and upon dying off turns the sea a reddish brown color. We were greeted and driven 30 minutes to our resort, STEIGENBERGER RAS SOMA. This resort which is right on the sea is huge. We are on the All Inclusive plan which means we have access to all 5 restaurants and 4 bars with one remaining open 24 hours. I have never seen a buffet restaurant of this size. It appeared to be almost the size of a football field. Seriously!
Before 10a we were in our rooms. I was in an executive suite with a private pool. I may not get in it but I sure like looking at it. The resort has plenty of pools to go around; 3 and cabanas galore. Meanwhile down at the beach quite a lot was going on; speed boat rides, glass bottom boats, kiteboarding and just laying on the beach soaking up that vitamin D.
It was beginning to look and feel a lot like the Caribbean.They have nightly live entertainment but after a wonderful dinner at the seafood restaurant, Maya; I passed on the show and retired to my room to get in a little rest. Tomorrow will be a full day for me; 2 spa treatments, a city tour and later dinner at the Asian restaurant; Benisuma. Reservations are required at the a la carte restaurants but even though Maya and Benisuma were completely booked, the Food and Beverage manager did an override and we were accommodated. This was a perfect way to unwind, relax and rejuvenate.
The time has come to say farewell to our old and new friends. It’s been an epic 12 days in Egypt. Our last full day in Aswan I hosted a surprise reception in my villa for our guide, Vivian. She popped in without knowing the group would be there. I presented her with her gratuities envelope and a lovely crocodile cross body bag. She has been with us every step of the way from day 1. In addition to being an accomplished Egyptologist, she is most humble and down to earth. It was a very good day. Later on that evening a few of us met up on the 13th level for dinner in the Panorama Restaurant. Unbeknownst to Elvin & Joyce Crum we wanted to celebrate their 46 year anniversary. What a lovely couple! I’m honored to have had them travel with Kattrax for almost 2 decades. In the morning we fly to Cairo for one last night in preparation for the flight home. 5 of us will continue on to the 5 star All Inclusive Steigenberger Resort in Hurghada on the Red Sea. It was to be Sharm El Sheikh but when the pandemic forced the COP 27 (Climate Control Conference) to roll over on our dates, we changed our course to Hurghada. Next year hopefully there will not be a conflict of dates for any international conference. I look forward to our next year’s tour with a 4 day extension in Sharm.
Today was the end of our 4 night cruise. Yesterday the group visited the Nubian Museum and the Nubian Village where they had an introduction into the culture of the Nubian people. Did you know, they have their own language and the majority do not speak Arabic. Saying As salaam alaikum to one is like speaking Chinese. Crocodiles are important to their culture. They are a totem of blessings. In past times, believed to ward of evil. A mummified croc hung over the door is an indication the owner has domesticated ones that tourists can view.
Some of the group jet-setted 45 mins to Abu Simbel early morning and upon their return we all disembarked, boarded a motorboat to Elephantine Island to the MOVENPICK ASWAN RESORT where she overlooks the Nile. Since 2011 this 5 star resort has been the spot for me. I was excited to see the iconic building in the distance. She was built 46 years ago but still maintains high standards. I’ve had the superior Nile view room and the 2 story duplex but since last year I knew I would snag one of the coveted villas even if I had to pay the cost to be the boss. Upon arrival it was clear that as it was in Cairo and Luxor, tons of tourists were also here in my beloved Aswan. I’ve never seen Egypt with so many tourists. Be that as it may, I am home and will definitely enjoy my short stay.
Ever since 2012, the Hot Air Balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings and Queens has been a major highlight of our time in Egypt. Some whined about getting up at 4am for the 5am ride but after all was said and done; they all said it was well worth it and definitely a highlight for them.
The Galabeya party…again what can I say? Other than a mighty good time was had by all and that was the chatter this morning at breakfast. What was funny was that at the beginning of the party those other folks were out there in the dance floor hopping around with very little rhythm. I told the DJ, “you’ve got to play something we like” and after that our group shut it down like they owned not just the dance floor but the boat.
Today was a visit to the Nubian Museum and as I write this from the Sun deck they are visiting the Nubian Village. Tonight we are winding down, tomorrow after the day trippers fly to Abu Simbel to see the gigantic monument of King Ramses II and his beloved black wife Queen Nefertari who he always wanted by his side; we motorboat to Elephantine Island to our 5 Star Aswan Movenpick Hotel. It is there I feel so at home. Actually I’m already home because our boat is docked in Aswan where it will remain until we disembark.
Balloon photography courtesy of Reginald Jones of Griffin, Ga
The Nile River is the longest river in Africa and has historically been considered the longest river in the world. Here we are cruising by day to Aswan, excursions as we stop along the way and docking by night. There is no way I can explain the tranquility felt when on the sundeck chillin’ whether you’re reading a book, getting a tan or chatting up friends.
After dinner tonight was the Galabeya party. Everybody in our group looked so good they deserved to be on somebody’s red carpet. Red carpet or not, they got the party started. They wobbled, they slid and they blew the whistle. Everybody was having a good ole time.
Here are a few pictures taken over the last day or so you might enjoy. When I say fun; that’s what its been, straight up! Next year is filling up but there is still space. If interested, Inbox me for information and reservations.
After spending 3 days in Cairo, we flew to Luxor. 2 days in Luxor at the SONESTA ST. GEORGE meant we would soon board the ROYAL LOTUS and be on our way to my beloved ASWAN, home of the NUBIANS. My last day at the Sonesta while the group was doing their thing I had a very relaxing and enjoyable Italian lunch overlooking the Nile. My non alcoholic beverage of mango juice, lemon juice and soda was so refreshing. As I sat soaking up the fantastic view, my mind reflected back to 2005 when I had my past lives read and was told I was of Egyptian royalty from the 17th century, possibly a Nubian Queen. It was to take another 6 years before I set foot on Egyptian soil. Whenever I arrive on the Royal Lotus cruise I’m presented with a bouquet of flowers, 1 of 2 suites, more flowers, fruit platters, my own personal WiFi router and we won’t talk about the “at your service” treatment I receive in the dining room. Its truly Queen status and anyone in the Kattrax Group; cruise rules do not apply. Its do whatcha like, do whatcha want.
A highlight for me is the carriage ride. We were clip clipping through the Luxor streets at sunset 13 carriages deep soaking up the local color, as those that look like us scurry about handling their business, hearing the Call for Prayer, and waving back at the pretty brown-skinned children laughing and playing in the streets.
At 5am tomorrow 10 adventure seekers in the group will go up, up and away in a beautiful hot air balloon. I will be sure to share those photos.