Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sharm El Sheikh ~ Diving Wrap Up

Good morning! This post is the sixth in a series of posts about our incredible trip to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in 2012! To start over at the beginning, click here!

 photo 5d5ebb12-50ef-4c04-bec6-32c79fc2e05c_zpsf2ab3dda.jpg
Camel ride on the beach (as seen from our dive boat) - such a quintessential Egypt photo!

Last time we were heading for the third and final dive of the day, being escorted by a school of dolphins! (Yes, that does sound like a fairy tale, but I promise it happened - we have video evidence!) The journal entries pick up at that point in the story, so without further ado:

Tuesday 3 July 2012


When we reached the Naama Bay marina, we left with Chris, who walks every night from the marina to his hotel, and we hit the Starbucks! We picked up our Sharm el Sheikh mug - the MOST expensive mug we've ever purchased, ringing up at a whopping 125 £. E. ($24!!!)

Last night we met a cute couple from Hungary while we were attempting to use the Internet in the lobby. They are very friendly, and although I do not remember their names, we may be spending our off day with them tomorrow.


Today was our last day of diving, and we finished our trip on the Shorouk again (really a very nice boat captained by a man named Nasser) with Roger and Ryan as our guides. No one was taking courses on our boat today, so all of the dives were pleasure dives.

 photo a13553bc-5cfa-4956-bcfb-9b69c216eeba_zps98f9837f.jpg
Ryan briefing us on Gordon Reef

We were back in Tiran, and our first dive of the morning was on Gordon Reef. We jumped in the second group with Ryan as our guide. Unfortunately for us, the first group jumped right over a group of eagle rays that stayed with them for about ten minutes. Even though we didn't see that, we still had a lovely dive. There were tons of anthias again, parrotfish chomping on coral, and loads of blue-green, red-toothed trigger fish. Over one section of reef, I saw one of those things that look like muppet lips that close when you wave your hand over them like a clam...I'm not sure what they're called, but they're super cool, and this one was huge! There was a wreck on Gordon Reef in 1981 that dropped a bunch of barrels of tar. They are mostly empty, but a few of them still leak from time to time. It's interesting to look inside the barrels to see what's taken up residence inside them. At the end of the dive, we were over a beautiful coral garden. We saw a crocodile fish resting under a large table coral, and Austin spotted a black-tipped grouper tucked up under a little outcropping.

 photo 44126467-abb0-46e7-aebe-972198ff2820_zps3656e12c.jpg
trigger fish, crocodile fish, "muppet lips"

There was a gentleman who lives in Switzerland whose name is Stephan on the boat today, and he helped us find the names of most of these fishes in his fish book. I really want a fish book, but I think I'm going to order one off the Internet which should be considerably cheaper. We found out later in the day that he lives between Lausanne and Geneva.

 photo aaf78f75-3fb3-4802-b7ba-7e8b1c4d30bb_zps8a774e23.jpg
image credit

Our second dive, and our last dive of this trip, was on Woodhouse Reef (we were hoping to get to the north side of Jackson Reef where the hammerheads have been spotted recently, but conditions weren't favorable). However, Woodhouse was a GREAT last dive. For this dive, we jumped as one big group. It was full drift, so we didn't have to fin hardly at all, and about ten minutes into the dive a huge green sea turtle swam right through the middle of our group! We also saw several of the baby spotted rays. Chris, who has been with us for all five dive days, took a picture of us underwater together, and he's promised to e-mail it to us!

 photo 3e1fa278-c2ac-42a2-ae61-8ed13d88fe7d_zps6107067a.jpg
Underwater family picture ;) - courtesy of our new friend Chris!

After that dive we packed up our crates, and basically lazed around the boat for the rest of the day. Austin's back was really hurting, so while everyone else was on their third dive I gave him a short massage.


When we got back to Naama Bay, Chris made a point to say goodbye to us before he walked to his hotel to meet his daughter.

We checked out and packed up our equipment at the center, then hopped our transfer back to the hotel. We were very satisfied with our Emperor Divers experience, and happy to be done with our first five-day dive trip ever! We're tired, but we had a good time, and we feel more and more comfortable every time we dive! We're also very pleased with how our equipment performed! Everything works like a charm. My BCD is a little smidge big, but it does the job.


Dinner was just like normal. We had ice cream for the second night in a row!

After dinner we came back to the room and hung up all of our scuba equipment. Now everything will (hopefully) be clean and dry to pack for our flight home.

 photo 8fbd7f7d-e20e-4fe5-bb14-4ca4479b71d9_zpsdffd341b.jpg
A view of our hotel from the dive boat!

Entertainment started around 21:00. It was pretty lame. They had a dude that ate fire and laid on broken glass and balanced on the sharp end of swords and stuff. Then at the end they tried to get everyone to dance, and it just ended up being really awkward. The guy with the microphone said "Yo, yo, yo, yo!" and "Sexy!" a lot. Not as a part of a sentence, just "Sexy!"

The "Animation Team" was also plugging a big beach party down at the Melia Sharm, so we walked all the way down there only to discover that it cost $12/person to buy a ticket to the beach party (something the animation folks had forgotten to mention). More lameness.

That's it for the dive logs! The rest of the story is pretty much a polar opposite from diving, but still pretty exciting! You won't want to miss it!


To see a list of ALL of our travel stories, in chronological order, click here!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Holiday Weekend Spontaneity

Hello and Happy Tuesday! Hope you all are doing well!

We've had several posts about our Sharm el-Sheikh trip recently, and there's some more to that story to come; however, I wanted to fill you in on our most recent adventure! We had a really fun, spontaneous getaway over Fourth of July weekend!

For the week or so leading up to the Fourth, we had talked about going somewhere, done some research, and looked into different places to stay within driving distance, but we hadn't finalized any plans. We went down to our neighbors' for some sparklers and fireworks on Thursday night and were there pretty late! So we slept in on Friday, not really thinking that we were going to be doing anything too elaborate for the weekend.

A realtor had scheduled a showing for Friday afternoon, so we spent the morning prepping the house and skedaddled out of there with the dog shortly before her scheduled appointment. Unfortunately, the realtor ended up canceling . . . an HOUR after her scheduled appointment time . . . so needless to say, we were frustrated about having to unnecessarily waste so much of the first day of our long weekend.

Since it was our first Independence Day in Florida, we didn't really know where we wanted to go for a fireworks celebration. After a little Internet research, we decided to take advantage of our Sea World season passes and go down there for their Fourth of July festivities!

We got down to Sea World around 6pm and enjoyed a couple of rides that we hadn't yet experienced. The big event that we were excited for was the last Shamu show of the night: Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night! So we made our way over to Shamu Stadium at around 6:45 (the show didn't start until 8:15). It was good that we went so early because the line was already rather substantial.

They started letting us in around 7:30, and we were able to score some pretty sweet seats dead center in the splash zone!

 photo 37048648-7014-4ef1-91c8-2acf2924bb4c_zps5af49a8e.jpg

The show was very good, I always really enjoy seeing the animals and trainers interact! The grand finale was incredible with all five humongous whales moving in beautiful synchronicity along with fireworks exploding behind them! I was fortunate enough to get some fun video:

After the final Shamu Show, they put on a big concert after which they had their huge fireworks, but we decided to beat the crowd out of the park and left while the fireworks were going on. We made it home rather late and slept in again on Saturday!

Saturday morning we were just bumming around the house when Austin said, "Let's go to the Keys!"

So we quickly packed for a potential overnight (including everything we would need to "car camp" just in case we couldn't find a hotel), got Hallie and her stuff loaded, and headed out! From the time Austin had the idea to the time we were on the road was about an hour!

Since we had never been down to the Keys before, we decided to go for broke and go all the way down to Key West, which is about six hours from home for us. We weren't in a hurry, and it was a beautiful day! We had packed snacks so we ate those for our lunch, and we stopped a little bit before Miami at a Chick-fil-A to take advantage of our July calendar-card freebie: a free hand-spun shake! (We bought four calendars in December, so we each have two cards, which means we each enjoy the freebie twice a month.)

We thoroughly enjoyed the scenic drive south, and arrived at the southernmost point of the United States around 5pm. The point is marked with a large monument, and it is apparently a very popular spot! So popular, in fact, that there was a very long line to get your picture taken in front of the monument. Rather than wait in that line, we sat on a little bench a little bit to the side of the monument and got a selfie that way, so please pay no attention to the Indian family that is photobombing our southernmost point photo! :P

 photo 3cc7095c-2465-4f9b-a218-c20939dde851_zps7b494033.jpg
Austin & Katy at the Southernmost Point in the United States!

After seeing the southernmost point of the US, we made our way to the Higgs Beach Dog Park for Hallie to run off some steam and use the bathroom. There were a few other dogs there playing, so she had a great time! The park is a great size and has a water station and shaded tables for humans. There's a small dogs only section, and an area for the larger dogs to rough house! The only frustrating thing about this park is that the beach that is adjacent to the dog park is not open to dogs!

 photo a43fba63-d583-44af-aca8-ca496e7568ef_zps14a12bac.jpg
Hallie playing at the Higgs Beach Dog Park

Hallie is a great little traveler, and she always does great in the car! This trip was no exception! She's also crazy popular everywhere we go! I find that few people have ever seen a dog that looks exactly like her - she's a Basenji/Golden Retriever mix, and she's this gorgeous copper color with a fluffy tail that curls over her back when she's excited, and her face often looks like she's smiling!

 photo 2b236912-1a97-4496-8895-6561e76d172c_zpsdf83f528.jpg
Me & the Hallie girl

After the dog park it was about sunset hour, so we made our way over to Mallory Square Dock to take it in! Mallory Square Dock is in the heart of old Key West. It's surrounded by old shops and museums and restaurants, and it hosts Sunset Celebration, "Key West's premier nightly arts festival!". Sunset is the key time of day for this attraction, and the square is very busy! Street food vendors, fortune tellers, and souvenir sellers set up all along the edge of the sidewalk, and the whole place takes on a celebratory air! Even though it was pretty crowded, Austin was able to get this gorgeous shot of the sunset!

 photo 451cca3f-3294-489e-80f9-bc802e8fbb4c_zps661b1d66.jpg

The last stop of the night was a late dinner at Outback Steakhouse! Austin had received a gift card, and he had also figured out how to leave the Prius on but lock it at the same time so that Hallie would be in a comfortable, climate-controlled environment while we enjoyed our dinner! (He's so smart!)

After dinner, we decided to make our way back north. We wanted to get back to the mainland so as not to get caught in the wave of holiday travelers that would be making their way back in the morning, so as Austin drove, I looked for a hotel that would welcome the three of us (including the dog) -- which is harder than you would initially imagine! Thankfully we found a nice La Quinta Inn & Suites just outside of Miami! Not only do La Quintas welcome pets, they also do not charge a fee to have one in the room! (Some of the hotels we called were charging up to $75 fees to "accommodate" a dog in the room! That's stinking highway robbery! The dog should get their own room for that price! Sorry, rant ended.)

We made it to the hotel a little bit after 2am, checked in, and settled in for the short night. We enjoyed the complimentary breakfast in the morning, and set off for our next adventure!

 photo c764748d-de07-43e2-a559-f257f6bf7b7e_zps1bf9bc04.jpg
Hallie loved the hotel!

Side note: Hallie loved staying in the hotel! It was her first time - and we didn't bring the kennel, so we were a little nervous, but she did great! She did hide between the chair and the mirror while we were at breakfast, but she ate and drank and didn't get into anything or make any messes! She is such a good dog!

Our plan for Sunday morning was to drive through the Everglades -- another quintessential Florida adventure that we hadn't yet experienced! (Which was a big part of why we decided to stay just south of Miami, near Homestead where the entrance to the main road through the park is.)

 photo c8565132-bfa2-4816-a00b-dd13160b328b_zpsa0c058c0.jpg

There is a fee of $10 to enter the park, and from the moment you arrive they start warning you about the mosquitos. Seriously. There's a blinky sign on the front of the pay-station point that says, "Mosquito Risk: High." The first stop inside the park was the visitor's center to have a quick look around and grab a map. In the parking lot we saw a mother and son applying bug repellent, and they asked if we had been attacked yet. This did not bode well. Once inside we picked up our map and asked the helpful guide for some basic highlights and information. She gave us some pointers on the map and she too was quick to advise bug repellent!

We got back in the car and started down the road that leads through the park. Unlike some of the other national parks that we have been to, the road doesn't go all the way through the park and come out on the other side; it ends at the ocean, and to leave the park you have to turn around and drive all the way back the way you came. (It's approximately 45 miles one way.)

 photo 12b15b85-2773-481d-b16c-dfb27d2bf17a_zps7383c484.jpg

We did drive the whole road from Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center to Flamingo where the other visitor center/museum is located. We got out of the car a total of three times for a combined time of no more than fifteen minutes. The first stop was Royal Palm where the guide had told us we would be most likely to see alligators. We were not disappointed as there was one chilling in the water just feet from the boardwalk! The second place we stopped was Long Pine Key. They had a little picnic area, and Hallie was allowed to get out there, so we leashed her and sat and looked at the lake for a minute. Literally, about a minute was all it took for the mosquitos to swarm, so we hightailed it back into the car. Our third and final stop was at the Flamingo Visitors' Center. This spot was reportedly the best for seeing crocodiles and manatees, though we didn't see either. There was a small, rather bizarre museum that looked like it hadn't been updated since the seventies. There also used to be a restaurant at Flamingo, but it apparently sustained some damage during a hurricane in 2010 and has yet to be repaired and reopened. The whole visitors' center had a deserted feel to it that was a little bit creepy. When we got back to the car we had to go on a killing spree and smash the nearly twenty mosquitos that had weaseled their way into the vehicle when we opened the doors.

Needless to say, we probably won't be returning to the Everglades any time soon. We love national and state parks (in fact, our third anniversary trip was an incredible road trip through Yosemite, Grand Tetons, Mount Rushmore, etc.), but this one seemed somewhat repetitive as far as terrain was concerned, and the facilities were all rather run down and outdated. But it's one thing that can be checked off of our "Florida Bucket List!"

In summary, we LOVED the Keys and will definitely be making a return trip, but next time we'll skip the Everglades! ;)

The rest of the drive home was rather uneventful. We listened to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre version), I read out loud from one of our sailing books, and we enjoyed a fabulous lunch at Chipotle at about the halfway point!

All in all, it was a great weekend filled with spontaneous and unexpected adventure! That's one of my favorite things about sharing life with Austin -- he's always up for anything, and he often has some pretty incredible ideas and the determination to make them happen!

How did you celebrate Independence Day this year?

Thanks for stopping by!

To see a list of ALL of our travel stories, in chronological order, click here!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt ~ Tiran & Dolphins

Good morning! This post is the fifth in a series of posts about our incredible trip to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in 2012! To start over at the beginning, click here!

Part four ended with us learning about the Thistlegorm wreck. Although we didn't get to dive there on this trip to Sharm, the rest of our diving adventures were pretty exciting, so let's get back to them!

My journal entries pick up again the next morning!

Sunday 1 July 2012


It's a good thing we were looking forward to showers and dinner, because that was really all we did last night before going to bed! :) We were in bed "watching TV" by 19:45!

This morning was the same pattern: up at 6:30, packed and ready for the day, breakfast by 7:00, lunches picked up and waiting for the bus by 7:30.

The huge school of silver fish yesterday were definitely snappers, and the brightly colored, stripey fish are trigger fish. I think I've been getting those confused with parrotfish, although we have seen some parrotfish, too.

Today we're on a boat called the Empress Shorouk. According to our guide, Kirstie again today, the boat is named after the captain's daughter Shorouk.

 photo 4f4a4efb-457a-486b-a82a-8034e6d900c8_zps6336f43e.jpg
image credit

We're going to Tiran today, and it's about an hour and a half boat ride to get there. From our first day of diving we've been in the same group with four British folks. Three of them are traveling together: Mick, John & Michelle. John & Michelle are married, and Mick seems to be their long-time friend. Mick's wife passed away two years ago. He and Austin had a nice long talk one day, and "swapped stories." The other British gentleman is called Chris.


Everybody's eating lunch and resting now. We've had our two morning dives in Tiran.

The first dive was on Gordon Reef. There are four pinnacle reefs in Tiran named after the four original British cartographers who first mapped the area. Gordon Reef was supposed to be a semi-drift dive, but it ended up being a moored dive for us because I went through my air so quickly. We did see a huge eagle ray, a manta ray, and lots of brightly colored wrasses. Along with butterfly fish and the smaller angel fish. While we were doing our safety stop, we saw more of the small white fish with three vertical dark gray stripes (sergeant fish), and some beautiful turquoise-colored fish with very frilly fins and tails. We finished our ascent and came up, both of us over 60 bar. We were both pretty frustrated at such a short dive (only 34 minutes), so we ordered 15 liter tanks for tomorrow's dives.

 photo 18546191-98f0-4b75-98ec-1bc6db56e6cd_zps4abec38a.jpg
eagle ray, fairy wrasse, clown fish

After a nice surface interval we steamed up to Jackson Reef. On our way there were a few dolphins riding our wake - maybe four or five. We hopped in over Jackson and made our descent. It was another beautiful coral wall and there were huge schools of the fish that look like goldfish and among them were some more purple/orange fish. Again lots of the wrasses. The current was very strong, and we ended up flipping around at one point and letting it drift us along the wall. During the drift we saw one of those long, skinny silver fish with a pointy nose (I've got to find out what those are called, too) and a brilliant green anemone with clown fish darting in and out of it. The current was REALLY strong, and we had to fight against it to get back to the mooring line. We were still the first ones up, but only by about three minutes, and or air consumption was about equal (however, to be fair, Austin did push me for a little way to conserve my air, and he had about 4 bar more than I did when we came out).

 photo 0059254e-0e09-4c06-a240-e415c9596ee7_zpsa42bc0e2.jpg
Kirstie briefing us on Jackson Reef

John and Michelle were close behind us, and the rest of the crew not long after them. We decided to forego he third dive, another local dive on the way back to Naama Bay, and packed our kit back into our boxes. We will be on this same boat tomorrow to go back to Ras Mohammed. Hopefully we will have favorable currents, and we'll get longer dives with the larger tanks.

As we were steaming away from Tiran, the captain started sounding his horn and hollering that there were dolphins around. We went downstairs and ran to the sun deck in the bow. Directly in front of us on the right hand side was a mama dolphin with her little baby! They swam alongside us for 5-10 minutes, and after a bit the big daddy dolphin joined them! When they swam off, the captain announced that lunch was ready. In the time it took everyone to load their plates there was a whole school of dolphins congregating out in front of us. We got up to them and counted between 15 and 20. Some off the port side, five or six off the bow and about eleven behind! It was pretty incredible!

 photo f5d898b4-9b47-4e6e-8336-5fe01cc9618f_zps9d09eb63.jpg
Mama dolphin with her baby!

Now we're lazily motoring towards the local dive site Kirstie has chosen for the final dive of the day, and Austin and I are planning for a nice, long nap while the others dive (Austin has already started his ;D).


The fishes that look like goldfish are called anthias. The purpley ones that school with them are actually anthias, too! Crazy!

Well, there you have it! Four of our five diving days are behind us! Still to come: sharks, camels, and bedouins, oh my! Be sure to come back for the rest of the story!


To see a list of ALL of our travel stories, in chronological order, click here!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt ~ Snorkeling, Reading, & Wreck Dives

Hello! You have arrived on the fourth in a series of posts about our incredible trip to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in 2012! To start over at the beginning, click here!

The third post covered our first and second days' dives, and boy, were they pretty epic! Our very first dive, the one that started it all, was in Cozumel, Mexico. Then we got our Open Water PADI Certification during a trip to Croatia, and our Advanced Open Water PADI Certification in Palma Mallorca! We had purchased our own "kit" (complete sets of diving gear) in preparation for this trip to Sharm! We definitely love to dive!

Monday 2 July 2012

We didn't end up napping through the whole third dive :) the water was just too inviting, so we hopped in with snorkels and took a little swim around for about 15 minutes. There were a lot of fishes even though the visibility wasn't great. Right next to the boat there was a big school of fusiliers, Suez, I think, because they had the dark stripe on their backs. There was a nice shallow coral reef nearby and we saw some clown fish and more of those frilly turquoise fish. At one point a diver on a scooter and his buddy were right below us. They got some clown fish to swim up out of their anemone and Austin and another snorkeler from our group did surface dives down to get a better look. The diver gave the other guy a breath from his tank!

 photo 55d94e51-896a-47cd-a02d-4184c6938f80_zps1e335a68.jpg
Suez Fusiliersimage credit

It was Mick, Michelle, and John's last day diving, so we had a beer with them back at the center. Thy had taken some neat pictures, so we gave them one of Austin's business cards. Michelle said they would hit us up for future dive trips, too!

We said our goodbyes and hopped onto our respective transfers.

We got back to the hotel earlier than we have all week, but still not early enough for ice cream :( So we took nice long showers and enjoyed some quality time in the room before dinner. Austin was really tired and not very hungry, but he accompanied me to dinner anyway (he's so sweet)! After dinner I did some laundry and we turned on the tv. Austin fell asleep around 20:30 after watching the end of "Deep Blue Sea" (for the record, a really bad movie to watch while on diving holiday!).

I stayed up until about 23:00 finishing my book Asenath - a fictional account of Joseph's wife's life (I figured it was an appropriate read while on vacation in Egypt).

 photo 1ac24258-2e27-44a5-9822-f4e53ad81ac9_zps6dacac42.jpg

I was wide awake at about 5:10 this morning but fought valiantly to go back to sleep until about 6:15 when I gave up and started getting ready. In spite of my early rise, we did end up getting to breakfast a little behind schedule. They also forgot to make us lunches today. Thankfully we have a decent amount of leftovers from yesterday.
We're back on the Empress Shorouk today with 12 other divers 2 guides from {Emperor Linky}Emperor and a private guide who is with some underwater photographers (part of the 14). There's a guy on the boat today who looks really familiar, but I can't place him. Chris is still with us today, and probably will be tomorrow as well.

We're kitted up and ready to go with 15 liter tanks for this first dive, and we're en route to Ras Mohammed.


 photo c3df2a6e-99e3-4fc3-8a92-662ad19fc084_zps5ecbb044.png
image credit

Our first dive of the day was a drift from Eel Garden to Shark Observatory. We jumped with the second group, which was the two of us with an instructor called Brian. He was leading two AOWD students, so he pretty much left us to ourselves. We were both on 15 liter tanks, and we ended up with a 46 minute dive. We went to about 30 meters right away and initially we were over a sandy sloping bottom full of garden eels on the way back up to where we leveled up (about 20m), we saw a big stone fish. Pretty soon we came to a reef wall, and there were loads of anthias and butterfly fish and unicorn fish and some big parrotfish. I love how they sometimes swim on their sides!

 photo 545ea4a5-691b-41e3-94a8-2e0b00a1b3e8_zpsf05bbd31.png
image credit

There were also some smallish schools of medium-sized fish that were half yellow on top and half purple on the bottom, Chris said he thinks they're goat fish, about ten or twelve of them were schooled together and they would dart in and out of the groups of anthias! Thy was pretty cool to watch. Additionally, there were several green anemones with couples of clown fish on them. Austin is the clown fish whisperer apparently because he would put his face right up next to the anemone and the clown fishes would practically bump into his mask swimming towards his eyes. He pulled me over to have a try, but they don't seem to like me as much as they like him.

 photo a1ee2683-6df3-4ce4-8ef5-e8458ec6dd89_zpsb9d9ec0c.png
Who knew I was married to the clown fish whisperer?
image credit

We had an hour-long surface interval and Kirstie briefed us on Shark & Yolanda take 2. This time I was on a 15-liter tank and Austin was on a 12-liter. We started out the dive in Brian's group again. We jumped on Shark, went with the current around the front, spent some time in the saddle, came around the back of Yolanda and dropped in over the wreck. We were able to really explore the bathroom fixtures this time which was cool! There was a really big stonefish and a moray poking his head out of his hole that I saw on the way to the wreck, but no one was close enough for me to point them out.

On the front of Yolanda we saw a huge moray out feeding, and Ryan and the students went up a little ahead of us and we joined up with Kirstie's group. We went through a small cave, and came out around 5m. It was the first dive that I wasn't the one making us come up -- my longest dive ever at 52 minutes -- and I came out of the water with 72 bars!

We opted out of the third dive again, but right now the group is doing a local dive called Paradise.


They did see a small white-tipped reef shark, but I don't really feel like we missed that much ;) Another diver, Kevin, who skipped the third dive as well, regaled us with stories of the Thistlegorm - an amazing wreck nearby. If we don't do it this week, it's definitely on my bucket list. They say it's one of the best wreck dives in the world.

 photo 417be941-7029-437d-8af0-3a3850015fd4_zpsfc17d5bf.jpg
image credit

Next time we wrap up our diving days, and after that we go from wet to DRY!!! Be sure to check back!


Click here to read part 5!

To see a list of ALL of our travel stories, in chronological order, click here!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt ~ Deep Blue Adventures

Hello again! You've landed on the third post in a series about our 2012 trip to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt! To start back at the beginning, click here!

At the end of the second post, we had caught the dive company's shuttle to our first day of diving! The reason we had come to Sharm El Sheikh at all was to go SCUBA diving in the Red Sea. A gentleman that we met at Disneyland Paris had told us that one of the most amazing places to dive in the world was Sharm El Sheikh, and from that point Austin had been doing a ton of research about it and had "liked" Emperor Divers on Facebook.

Then, one day while surfing Facebook, Austin saw that they were having a buy one get one free dive trip sale, which is an incredible deal! Without much hesitation, he booked a five-day, ten-dive package (and thus got one free), so we built our vacation around diving with Emperor!

 photo a4fc0845-905a-4f51-a118-d747df4ad773_zps4607744c.jpg
image credit

Saturday 30 June 2012


Our first day of diving went fairly well. We were on the boat called the Delphinus, and our guides were Elise and Saad with Jonathan teaching an AOWD class.

 photo ffe0bfcb-42b7-43f1-b3b7-077b65d4e8f4_zps76031ff3.jpg
image credit

We did what they call "local" dives. Our first dive site was called Ras Katy (which is so cool!). I went through my air really fast and that dive was only about 35 minutes for us. The boat was doing three dives, but our package only covered two (the third would have been an extra 20€ per person), so we skipped the second dive which was on a site called Temple and snorkeled instead.

There was a Swedish family on the boat whose six-year-old came along for the ride. His parents took turns watching him and alternated so they both got to dive throughout the day. The mother, Susanna, and the little boy, Kasper, were on the boat while we were as well as a family from the Netherlands. We snorkeled for about 30 minutes and ate our sack lunches that the hotel had packed for us.

When the rest of the crew came in, they ate their lunch and we waited while they completed their surface interval. Then we moved on to our final dive site of the day, Ras Umm Sid. R.U.S. was a gentle drift dive and we saw some really fun fish against a coral reef wall. Lion fish, angel fish, zebra fish, sergeant fish, parrot fish, the huge schools of these tiny little silvery/turquoise fish and lots of fish that look like gold fish. Austin also saw a big Moray eel and a huge manta ray. Air consumption went much better that time, and my dive was exactly 45 minutes.

 photo a2a8ad81-d9e0-4d0b-9eb1-b51d7026646f_zps83b653cd.jpg
image credit

Following that third and final dive, we packed up our gear into the crates provided by Emperor and labeled with our names while the boat chugged back to Naama Bay.

Since we were to be diving on the same boat, the Delphinus, the next day, all of our gear remained on board and we just took the small backpack back to the center with us. Back at the dive center we waited for about half an hour for the transfers to start back to the hotels.

 photo 5c704a42-68e9-49f4-8dfb-a5c629df3aff_zpsf84db4d9.jpg
On the dock in Naama Bay!

Susanna was an underwater photographer, and in the bus on the way back she mentioned that they may have gotten some good pictures of us! She gave us her husband's business card so that we could get in touch via e-mail. I'm really excited to see how they turned out!

We got a new key when we reached reception, requested a lunch box for the next day and tried to explain that we wanted more food. The man at reception recommended that we speak to guest relations, and the petite, blonde Russian woman who worked in guest relations told us that we needed to speak with the head of food and beverage, but he wasn't in yet.


At that point, we went back to the room, Austin showered and we went back to the restaurant for dinner. After dinner we met with the head of F&B and he was incredibly accommodating. He basically let us special order whatever we wanted and arranged to meet with us every evening after dinner to make sure the lunches were sufficient! Pretty amazing! With that sorted, we retired to our room (by way of the bar where we watched the bar tender make a fake beer for a little girl by creatively mixing several different sodas together). I showered and we washed out our salty swimming clothes and we went to bed around 21:00.

 photo 480935d8-3038-49b4-85fe-cd857f6da1a7_zpsa0c1fb4f.jpg
Our comfortable room!

Saturday morning, June 30th, we were up, packed and ready to go, and eating breakfast by 7:00! We refilled waters, grabbed our sack lunches (which one of the kitchen workers, Mohammed, proudly told us he had made personally at 6:00 :D) and waited for the bus to pick us up in front of the hotel.

While we were waiting, two other similar buses came to retrieve other people from our hotel. The first was obviously not going diving, and when I asked the driver of the second if we were on his list, he said, "I have one Russian, ma'am. You are English."

We had a pretty good chuckle over that, at which point I began exercising my Russian vocabulary to Austin. Many of the guards were apparently on break at the same time, and one of them came over and greeted us in Russian. Eventually we got around to the point that we are from Germany*. Obviously, the only topic of conversation to have with a German is EuroCup football. Around that point, the Emperor bus arrived and we were on our way back to the Dive center.

Being our second day, we knew the drill and checked in with our boat crew. We were on the Delphinus again but our guides had switched to Kirstie, and Jonathan had a couple of AOWD details to finish up, but he kind of doubled as the second guide.

 photo 386b102d-f0fb-4b95-9cd5-0be770a51a74_zps943042f9.jpg
Kirstie and another diver preparing to enter the water!

Our first dive of the day was on a site called Ras Burg. It was a full drift dive with a fairly swift current. We popped into the water, our group was led by Kirstie and we went in first. We made our descent (no ear problems at all! Praise the Lord!) and the very first thing we saw was a huge manta ray - like he was our welcoming committee :) We saw a lot more of those tiny silver fish in the big schools (which I did learn the name of today and then promptly forgot again), and some large parrot fish. The dive was next to a coral wall that dropped down 800 meters! There were also some bat fish, but I didn't see them.

 photo 22a2c481-d101-4d69-89cc-7fdc65301bf3_zps75bd927c.jpg
lion fish, angel fish, zebra fish, sergeant fish, parrot fish, fusiliers, anthias, moray eel, manta ray
(from top to bottom, left to right)

We managed a 41 minute dive despite me sucking down air like someone three times my size, but we were the first divers back to the boat. We switched our kit while the deck was empty and headed upstairs to await the rest of the group. They came in and we had a significant surface interval (close to two hours). Lots of chatting and napping in the sunshine. Austin and I had lunch part one. About an hour into the interval the boat crew served everyone else their lunch, we napped a little more and them we got briefed on the second dive.

 photo e6e1bdd2-a425-4d03-be1b-dae691abd35c_zps18964625.jpg
image credit

Our second and final dive of the day was on a site called Shark & Yolanda. We were with Jonathan's group for that dive, and jumped in second. The current was considerable, but we tucked in tight next to the reef wall and dropped down with the Shark reef on our right side. We descended into a HUGE school of medium-sized silver fish (snappers I think) and made our way along the reef wall at about 15m depth. We saw a lot of butterfly fish and the fish that look like goldfish and one big moray eel on that wall. When we got to the saddle, Jonathan tried to fin around and up it, but the current was too strong. After a couple of minutes, he turned us around and we headed to the back side of Shark which was a fairly shallow (about 8m) coral garden. We saw a TON of unicorn fish an a couple of big stone fish. When we got around the far side of Yolanda we met up with the first group an saw a bit of the wreck for which the reef is named. We didn't get to see very much of it before we were being led around the front of Yolanda reef. Another big school of snappers, lots of butterfly fish and our second big moray eel, and by that time I was out of air. I go through air considerably more quickly than Austin does, and that really frustrates him because it shortens his dives even though he isn't out of air.

 photo cef23077-4b5e-4078-8cfd-fb991201a634_zpsacca9028.jpg
butterfly fish, stone fish, snappers, unicorn fish

Now we're headed back to the Naama Bay Marina. Tomorrow we're going to be diving Tiran. Looking forward to showers and dinner :)


They're fusiliers! The ones we've seen have been the Lunar fusiliers (silver with the blue/turquoise sheen) the Suez fusiliers have a darker blue stripe between their dorsal fin and their tail. Interesting fact about the fusiliers: they always point into the current!

I hope you enjoyed this installment in the Sharm El Sheikh series! I'd love to hear what you like, what you don't like, what you'd like to see more of, and what you're seeing too much of in these posts! Please let me know in the comments!


*NOTE: At this time, we were living in Germany. It was also not a super-safe time to be an American in Egypt (the week after we were there an American man was kidnapped). The dive company listed us as "British" on all of their paperwork, and it was safer for us to be identified as either British or German in all public situations. Thankfully most people who do not speak English as their primary language don't immediately recognize the difference in accent between American English speakers and others.

Click here to read part 4!

To see a list of ALL of our travel stories, in chronological order, click here!