From Russia with a love of the sun
SUNLIGHT streaming through the curtains invites me to get up, get out and enjoy the warming rays. Sadly, disappointment awaited me this week, when I looked out and saw frost glistening on the car windscreen. Oh how different it was just a few days ago whe
SUNLIGHT streaming through the curtains invites me to get up, get out and enjoy the warming rays.
Sadly, disappointment awaited me this week, when I looked out and saw frost glistening on the car windscreen.
Oh how different it was just a few days ago when I would part the curtains to be met by the sight of clear blue skies and palm trees.
My choice for the morning was clear - either the pool complex just a few short steps away, with its comfy sun loungers, shades, handy bar and grill, or the sandy beach 50 yards away with similar facilities. It was hard to decide.
Yes, I was on holiday in the land of the Pharaohs, Egypt. It was a last minute thing, booked on a whim.
The hotel looked enticing on the web, and it turned out to be clean and spacious. The flight was full, boring, but uneventful.
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It was when we got to the other end that we thought there was something a little odd. Of the near 200 people on board the plane, we were the only two to go to our hotel. The others disappeared into the night, not to be seen again for a week.
Booking in at reception was fine and the room was lovely. Feeling peckish by now, we went to dinner and found ourselves surrounded by Russians.
It was then we realised that it was one of those hotels which had been mostly block booked by some tour operator from behind the Iron Curtain, perhaps with a name like Thomas Cookski.
It made for an interesting seven days, having no one else to talk to, except the waiters and the persistent peddlers of over-priced massage services, who were everywhere trying to get tourists to part with their money. They were Egyptian, but I reckon they changed their name according to the nationality of the person they were addressing. One said he was called Zak, and another said he was Ashley. If their potential customers were Russian, perhaps they would have been Ivan or Dimitri.
We did get a cheery Good Morning in Russian from a young woman (who turned out to be a rep) but after we replied in English she did not bother again.
One thing which stood out about the Russians was their fashion. It was between 30 and 40 years behind our own. Hot pants, six-inch heels and disco were obvious favourites back in the Motherland, and spandex (remember that?) was the material of choice. It was strange thinking that I had slipped back three decades in a time warp.
So we spent the week chatting between ourselves and understanding not a word of the fellow hotel guests around us.
It was just as insular on the plane home. As we were about to disembark, I thought of grabbing the hand of the man who had sat wordlessly beside me for more than five hours, shaking it warmly and saying: "It's been a pleasure not meeting you today."
But I thought better of it. After all, we are British.