Sharm El Sheik

These are the last of the photos from Egypt.  They were all taken in Sharm El Sheik. Sharm is a resort area in the South Sinai area of Egypt, at the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula and along the Red Sea.  I was hoping to kite but there was no wind. It was a disappointment as the water was crystal clear and really flat. 
I did go snorkeling, though and that was pretty incredible.  The reefs are well known and are just off the beach. I was able to go out on a pier from my resort and plop in at the end and there was a large reef system right there.  
I liked the vases and colors of these walls


The bougainvillea everywhere reminded me of home
This was the walkway down to the sea
This was their Christmas Nativity scene.
And some other holiday decorations. It was treat for me as Saudi doesn’t do this.  I didn’t miss the christmas carols playing constantly at home but did miss the decorations. It really never felt like Christmas here
The view from one of the restaurants
You can see the huge reef system in these next few photos. It was incredible and so close to shore
Goofy holiday decorations


This was looking back towards the resort
The fish seemed to have no fear
This one was really interested in my camera.
Almost too interested, it was a little scary at times, he would charge at it


I think it is a trigger fish and if I remember correctly from my salt water fish tank days, they can bite


I was sweating taking photos as he came so close. He was really beautiful, yellow and a bright blue on his sides
Mom ahead of me on the camels. Saudi camel saddles are highly superior to the Egyptian ones. And these are Sinai camels, they weren’t as pretty as the ones in Saudi, either. Can’t say I ever thought I’d be passing judgement on various breeds of camels and their riding gear!

Chop Chop Square and some miscellaneous fun photos

On my list of things to do in Riyadh at some point was to visit Deera Square. Dubbed chop chop square, this is the place where corporal punishments and executions are carried out.  Recently, these punishments have been held in locations outside of Riyadh due to increased human rights concerns so there has not been one here since I have arrived.  Apparently, after an execution, the area gets hosed down by a maintenance guy and the day goes on with people walking about in the square as usual.
My friend Sophie at the edge of the square for scale gives you a good idea of the size of it. They were washing it the day we visited
You can see the grates around the edges for drainage
I stepped over these rather than on them, which is silly in retrospect but they creeped me out a bit.
Bad job
Far side of the square
Following are a few photos of things that I found interesting, unique or otherwise entertaining here in the city. Almost every day I see something that I want to take a photo of.  Unfortunately, I am often in the car and can’t snap fast enough. Additionally, many times, I have to take sneak photos so I don’t offend anyone. Hence the poor quality of some of the photos or videos. 
Can’t see this truck selling terrifically well in the states
This was part of the group at a Christmas party I attended. We were testing out a new selfie stick!
This is from the salt flats, I posted about them before but just recently got sent this photo from a friend. I liked the abayas flapping in the breeze

My friend took this next series of photos of a traffic jam. I love how cars literally go any direction they please here.  It is all about negotiating through. There are traffic lights at large intersections here but they are somewhat optional. Recently, cameras have been installed at some of the busiest ones so those are followed. Option you will see people slow down then continue through a red light. Additionally, left turns are often made from right hand lanes in front of multiple lanes of traffic. And, most intersections on small roads don’t have any form of traffic signal, you just slow down, look and keep going if no one else is approaching the four way. If someone else is approaching, you speed up to beat them!

This is a sandstorm day. Looks like fog
This is the Riyadh golf course. I have been playing a little bit lately. It is lovely, I go abaya free and play a sport, not something that happens often here. I even ate in the cafe area in golf togs, no abaya. Even better, when I played on a warm day, I wore my Palm Beach golf togs, skort and short sleeve top in sorbet orange, felt very risque!
This is part of a display in the Masmak Museum. I won’t make any comments but please read it. I am sure most of you will appreciate my reasons for posting it.

Churches and Mosques in Egypt

On the “must-see” list in Cairo are the numerous incredible houses of worship. I expected mosques and Coptic churches but was surprised to find a Jewish temple in the midst. Old Cairo was definitely an equal opportunity religious center at one point. A little background, the Copts are the native Christians of Egypt and they were the vast majority religion until the mid-10th century. They are now a minority (the largest religious minority constituting about 10% of the population of Egypt) but Copts in Egypt are the largest Christian community in the Middle East. They are constituted by the Coptic Orthodox, Coptic Catholics and Coptic Protestants.
One of these Coptic churches is where Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus hid when they fled Jerusalum to avoid Herod. The gospel of Mathew tells that the Magi came looking for the newborn “King of the Jews.” When Herod the Great heard this, he felt that his throne was threatened by Jesus and called for all infants to be killed (Massacre of the Innocents.) But, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him to take Mary and the baby to Egypt. Anyway, we visited the church where they were purported to have hid out in the basement.
We also visited the Saladin Citadel which contains the Mosque of Mohamed Ali. This mosque is Ottoman inspired in architectural style and was built in memory of Mohamed Ali’s second son. But, its importance is that it represents Mohamed’s efforts to erase the symbols of the Mamluk dynasty that he replaced. He is an Ottoman ruler and when he took over the citadel, he destroyed the Mamluk palaces to make space to build the mosque.
Mosque of Ibn Tulun, the oldest mosque in Egypt surviving in the original form
Mom in her sexy mosque attire
Outside one of the churches in Old Cairo
This is the main chapel in the church where Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus hid. Lousy photo but we werent supposed to take any in there. The wall is all wood and mother of pearl inlay
These buildings were all really high and narrow
Again, forgive the lousy photo quality, it was never clear if photos were allowed or not (they were not in many of the churches) so I tried to be covert. This church has three gorgeous chapels off the the main one that were this glorious blue 
No idea what this piece of art represents, my biblical knowledge only extends so far, but I liked it
Cairo Citadel
The bushes were trimmed as topiaries that said Allah
The lights in here were stunning
This was an incredible ceiling in one of the churches
View of Cairo from the Citadel
Terrible photo as the light was too low but I liked the Citadel lit up in the background. I took this sitting in the Al-Azhar Gardens. It is particularly memorable due to the fact that I was sitting outdoors, in street clothes (no abaya,) with music playing and couples were walking about holding hands. Also, wine was available! None of these things had been a part of my world for the five months prior.
Citadel at night. The air quality was really this bad for most of our time in Cairo, this isn’t an unclear photo
Cairo Tower. The pictures of the Nile at night from my last post were taken from the observation deck on the top of this tower.
Hanging Church
Inside the courtyard for the Hanging Church
This was taken from the steps of the Hanging or Suspended Church. It was built in the Southern gate of a Roman fortress and has a wooden roof in the shape of Noah’s Ark
Inside the Mohamed Ali Mosque
The grounds of the Citadel
Cairo from the Citadel. This city has so many people it is unbelievable