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SHARMING GETAWAY.. Demelza de Burca enjoys stunning sights on an Egyptian adventure.

Cold, wet and miserable - hello Irish summer 2015. July was one of the soggiest in recent years with some parts of the country experiencing more than twice the monthly average rainfall.

This month is also forecast to be a washout and it's not just us that are suffering - the present spell of bad weather is prevalent all over western Europe.

But imagine if you were basking in the hot sun and sipping cocktails by the pool, snorkeling with tropical fish or visiting one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?

Step up Egypt! Not only are there amazing last-minute deals to be had at the moment, but it's only a five-hour flight direct from Dublin to the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

First off let me address the issue of political unrest.

Following June's deadly attack in Tunisia where 38 tourists, including three Irish, were gunned down on the beach, it's only natural to be anxious about visiting that part of the world.

Egypt has been in turmoil since the revolution at Cairo's Tahrir Square in 2011 but tensions have eased over the past few years.

Perhaps it is because I am pregnant that I needed a little more convincing about safety before taking off for a seven-day trip to Sharm el-Sheikh, which is situated in the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.

Red Sea Holidays Ireland boss Niall McDonnell was quick to assure me that I had nothing to worry about and I would be in safe hands.

He said: "Since the Tunisia attack we've only had one cancellation.

"Security is tight in Sharm. I'm travelling over myself next week and I've sent loads of family members this summer. Trust me, you'll be fine."

With those words ringing in my ears and an endorsement from the Foreign Affairs Department that the resort is not in a high-risk terrorist attack zone, myself and my partner decided to take the plunge.

And I'm so glad we did because the magic of Egypt is a must-see for all adventure seekers.

We stayed in the popular all-inclusive four-star Ghazala Gardens Hotel in Naama Bay which boasted a striking Moorish style and an impressive pool area with beautifully well-kept gardens.

One could easily spend their holiday just relaxing here cultivating a whopping tan in the heat. Trust me, it's hot. We're talking upwards of 30C.

But it seems a sin, not to mention tough on the Irish complexion, when there is so much to do.

We were treated to a VIP cruise, one of the great activities you can avail of with Red Sea Holidays, and enjoyed a full day on a yacht with a group of other holidaymakers.

David Attenborough once described the Red Sea as one of the most beautiful places in the world and within minutes of entering the water it's easy to see why.

With a wet suit on for extra buoyancy and a snorkel mask we saw manta rays, big-eyed squirrelfish, spectacular sponges and tranquil coral gardens.

The volume and variety of iridescent marine life coupled with outstandingly clear, warm waters makes for an otherworldly adventure.

Another day trip included a visit to the Sinai desert to see a Bedouin tribe.

As I have a baby on board I was advised not to partake in the camel riding adventure, nor did I smoke the shisha, but I did enjoy the tasty barbecue and mini mountain climb for a spectacular sunset.

The highlight was an Arabian night of stargazing with a trained astronomer where, in amongst the millions of stars, he pointed out the Milky Way, the North Star and various twinkling constellations in the unpolluted sky.

We also got to see Saturn and Venus in all their shining glory through a high-powered telescope. It's a breathtaking experience.

It is only when you leave the resort you witness the high security presence but we never once felt unsafe.

Most of the places where there is still tension are locations tourists are unlikely to visit - but it is still palpable, particularly on significant anniversaries, around Tahrir Square, which is home to one of Egypt's "must-see" sites the National Museum.

The museum itself, which was partly looted during the revolution and its grounds used as a makeshift prison for a while, is protected by armoured vehicles and barbed wire, which makes visiting a slightly unnerving experience.

But it is worth it to see the spectacular sight of King Tutankhamun's burial mask and tomb artefacts and the amazing Royal Mummies room.

We flew from Sharm el-Sheikh to Cairo to visit the museum and also to see the pyramids in Giza.

We couldn't justify travelling all the way to Egypt and not soak up the sights of the most substantial and most mysterious ancient structures in the world.

Constructed between 2589 and 2504BC, the Egyptian pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, built in that order, are a testament to ancient planning and engineering.

We took a horse and carriage ride for a panoramic view and witnessed the great beauty far from the crowds.

Close by the majestic Sphinx, an enigmatic monument usually associated with king Khafre, stands watch near his valley temple.

Gigantic and astonishing, nothing can prepare you for seeing them first-hand.

So what are you waiting for? Ditch the brolly and book a holiday to Egypt - you won't regret it!

Get there

Red Sea Holidays (redseaholidays.ie) is offering great value seven-night breaks to Sharm el-Sheikh from as little as [euro]424 per person sharing for holidays beginning on August 27. Prices include late checkout, 20kg luggage allowance and transfers between the airport and your hotel.

Ghazala Gardens Hotel starts at [euro]632 per adult sharing for seven nights.

Cairo by air offer flights, lunch, museum and pyramids for [euro]220.

Egypt is a must-see for adventure seekers

CAPTION(S):

LIFE'S A BEACH Tourists relax at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt

TAKE A DIVE Clear Red Sea waters

IT'S A WONDER Demelza in awe of the pyramids
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 1, 2015
Words:999
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