Egypt by sea

HURGHADA, EGYPT — The ancient Egyptians saw the world asĀ divided by two opposingĀ elements: sand and sea. The unstoppable force meets the unmovable object. Literally.

We came here in the heart of the winter to explore both sides of the elemental divide and worship our own element: sun.

Searching for sun

EgyptOne week in the south of Egypt. It was intended to be a long-awaited shutdown after an amazing but busy year. So we checked into the Grand Resort in Hurghada — an oasis of palm trees, swimming pools and cocktails.

But as much as we tried to relax, the promise of Egyptian adventures still beckoned.

Setting sailThe first draw was the Red Sea, just steps from the resort. The Red Sea is home to some of the best snorkeling and diving spots in the world, so we chartered a snorkeling cruise and headed out on a hot December morning.

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The winds were high and the chop heavy, but we managed to motor out to a mid-sea reef. The water was brilliant: at 25 Celsius, it was nearly as warm as the air temperature. We splashed in and explored the corals and local fish for the better part of an hour.

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Back in the boat, we motored out toward a sandy spit of land that was our destination for lunch. Halfway there we saw some water spouts off the starboard side. Two native dolphin were crossing our path and surfing our wake. We dropped anchor near another reef and splashed in again, hoping to sight them from underwater.

We weren’t disappointed. After a quarter of an hour, the pair came back and swam straight up to us, seemingly as curious about these funny looking pink things as we were about them.

Dolphin pairFor nearly twenty minutes we swam and played and spun with these wild amazing creatures. They seemed friendly enough, but stayed just out of hand reach. It was an amazing thrill to swim with these beautiful creatures and share a bit of their underwater world.

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Eventually the dolphins took off and so did we — toward a desert island that was home base for lunch. We lounged in the sun and played windswept volleyball, soaking up the sun all along.

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MBalconyotoring back, the late afternoon light fell quickly — after all, it was the shortest days of the entire year.

But on the Red Sea coast, the salt and sun and surf combined to give us a feeling of summertime. Munich seemed a million miles away.

So we settled down for some serious relaxation. Swim, soak, have a beer and repeat.

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