Friday, 7 August 2020

It’s summertime — everyone’s favorite vacation season

The Beginning

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Your Life

It’s that time of year, but we’re well aware it’s not (quite) the same in 2020. Summer is typically when the majority of people take a chunk of time off work — or are blessed with long holidays from school / university — and bask in the glory of the warm sun next to a body of water. 2020, better known as the year that keeps on giving, has certainly changed that most sacred routine to varying degrees for different people, but that doesn’t mean a vacation (or staycation, if you want to help local tourism) is completely off the table.

Let’s just get something out of the way right now. If you’re more of a winter person than a summer person, we don’t see eye-to-eye on that, but this issue doesn’t discriminate. There’s something in it for everyone.

We’re not here to tell you whether or not to travel — rather, we’re here to tell you about all our favorite spots here at home and abroad, as well as the uncharted territories each one of us has on our bucket lists. And because we here at Enterprise are sticklers for well-laid plans, we’re (only somewhat begrudgingly) spilling our tried and true secret tips for the most seamless travels.

Enterprise favorites: Domestic destinations

The cat’s out of the bag: A handful of us here at Enterprise love Red Sea destinations. Among our favorites:

Ain Sokhna, a retreat close to home: If you live in New Cairo, Ain Sokhna is a shorter, and less stressful, drive away from most of West Cairo. Home to clean, sprawling beaches with tons of marine life, Ain Sokhna is the perfect getaway for a weekend out of the office. The vibe is less Cairo-by-the-sea than the North Coast, but all services and amenities are easily accessible. For the beach lovers, the sea has calm waves and an assortment of colorful fish that come close to shore. You can take an affordable boat trip into deeper waters and enjoy activities such as fishing, snorkeling, or just chilling. Even if you decide to hibernate at your chalet or hotel you’ll be guaranteed a scenic view of mountains, the water, or both.

Ras Sudr, which is not too far from Ain Sokhna: Whether or not you're into kitesurfing, it’s not hard to see why you’d enjoy a convenient weekend getaway and a chance to meet very interesting people in Ras Sudr. Case in point: It’s only a two-hour drive from Cairo, but still part of the Sinai experience, making it the perfect place for a short break from work.


Marsa Alam: Located 800 km south of Cairo on the Red Sea coast, Marsa Alam is one of the ideal spots in the country to visit for an active vacation in nature. Scuba diving has long been one of the more popular reasons to visit Marsa Alam because of its reputation for being home to some of the healthiest coastal marine ecosystems in the country — which is in fact still true. Its coral reefs are rich with life and sea turtle and dolphin sightings remain fairly common. If you’re looking for an even more exciting activity to take on, gorgeous kitesurfing spots pepper the entire coast from Hurghada all the way down South well past Marsa Alam and several centers nearby offer courses for beginners.

If getting geared up isn’t exactly your thing maybe going on a hike through Wadi El Gemal National park — with its intense mountain landscape, decorative coastal mangroves and wide variety of bird species — is more up your alley. Friendly and wildly knowledgeable guides are available to provide tours at the protectorate’s entrance and you can even set up a picnic inside under the shade of one of many acacia trees growing in the Wadi. You’ll likely have no cellphone service on the excursion and you’ll most definitely be thankful for it.


Nuweiba: This is by no means a destination for the luxurious traveler looking for a pampered experience at a fancy hotel, but it is definitely one of the most serene and truly relaxing places we know around Egypt. Book a room (or a hut, if the weather is nice) at a vetted camp and spend your days soaking up the sun by the sea, go on hikes, or even take a day trip to Dahab, which is around an hour away by car. Don’t miss: An incredible meal after a swim at Castle Zaman — just make sure to make a reservation in advance, and be sure to stay for a beautiful view of the sunset over the sea.

If you happen to be in the south, head west to Aswan. A short four-hour trip can get you to Kom Ombo, where you can take a few hours around the pharaonic temples to unwind and marvel at the mostly empty shrines before you continue your trip to the Nubian towns further south. We recommend staying at one of the Nubian houses on the west side of the Nile River and only hit the upscale hotels if you are looking for a fancy meal. In the Nubian village of Gharb Soheil, lodges are most affordable and the authentic Nubian heritage nights are something to remember. In the morning, you can enjoy an amazing view of the Nile while you eat a light breakfast, take a walk in the old souk, and find reasonably handmade gifts and souvenirs to take back home. In the evening, make sure you try Nubians' favorite traditional dish — eggs with molokhia. The two are surprisingly a match made in heaven.

A day at the Cecil: For a short getaway, it’s well worth it to book a weekend stay at Alexandria's Cecil Hotel, now operated under the Steigenberger brand. Located in the heart of downtown just minutes away from El Raml station, all central attractions are within walking distance — including famous eateries like the Greek Club, Chez Gaby and the Cigar Bar, which serve up consistent quality. Be it a walk through the Montazah gardens you have in mind, catching an exhibition at the Alexandria Library, or an indulgent seafood meal in Halaqet in Samak, it’s all just a short taxi ride away. The hotel still serves up its old school charm, as well as the pampering and attention to detail that comes with 5-star service. And with the shoreline’s crashing waves a stone’s throw away, the sea view just can’t be beat.

Enterprise favorites: International travel

San Juan, Puerto Rico: The sight of towering tropical palm trees and the inescapable sound of music coming from almost every colorful and slightly aged street corner cafe can quickly start to give you the sense that this is a place trapped — beautifully — in time. And that is mostly true of the old city of San Juan, where the streets are cobblestone, bars and restaurants are bare, and old men sit playing backgammon in café fronts. But the narrow streets of the old city do take on a lively transformation on weekends where bars become busy with young locals and music ranging from live salsa to reggaeton is turned up, eventually spilling into the streets to create an almost unified festival environment. With an abundance of casual local cuisine and beverage options (mostly variations of plantain-based dishes and rum) and easy access to colonial era forts and museums, this part of the city is easy to explore on foot requiring very little planning ahead of time.

New San Juan is an entirely different experience where big name resorts hang over large stretches of sandy beach and life takes on the more familiar tone of a 21st century city with its slightly quicker pace and inequalities. Beaches are arguably the most poignant selling point for visiting Puerto Rico, where smooth sand abruptly meets the lush greenery of a tropical island, and they are in no short supply in San Juan. The further you venture away from the city’s hotel strip, however, the more idyllic of a Caribbean coastal experience you’ll be able to secure for yourself and maybe for a moment reconsider a return flight. (Note: Puerto Rico was battered by a deadly category 5 hurricane (Hurricane Maria) in 2017 that devastated much of the island’s infrastructure. They have been rebuilding since and are on their way to recovery).


A little hygge for a change: The Danish lifestyle embraces a concept known as “hygge,” which is the cozy, comfortable feeling you get when relaxing with friends or being in a scenic calm place. Their love for hygge is embodied in everything from Danish architecture, interior design, style of living, and even the way of treating people. Danes are largely fluent in English, so visitors don’t need to worry about a language barrier getting in the way. Denmark is a series of islands, so almost all destinations will boast both lush waters and green landscapes. For the foodies: Danish cuisine is definitely one we count among our favorites, with Danes almost religiously using locally sourced ingredients to create culinary masterpieces that you won’t get anywhere else. The only downside? Denmark runs on the expensive side, so prepare to loosen your purse strings a bit if you’re planning on visiting.

The kingdom that invented pizza: Renowned for more than being the birthplace of pizza, the Italian city (and once kingdom) of Naples is one of the most distinctive places in the world. Naples’ false and often exaggerated reputation might tell you to avoid the city. Skeptics claim it’s unsafe for tourists, full of shabby areas, and run by the mysterious Camorra. But there are a hundred reasons why you should and ought to, while of course remaining aware of the possibility of petty crime, visit Italy’s third largest city.

In short, it’s not a bad strategy: Naples has something for everyone. If you land in Rome, you’re likely to feel the pressure to visit every landmark in the city within your first few days in Italy (and there is an abundance). An induction into Italy from Naples will give you the chance to lay back and spend a day or two walking around Centro Storico, one of the oldest city centers in the world. From there, you’ve got options. You can explore Pompei and the breathtaking Mount Vesuvius, take your beachbody down to the Almalfi coast or one of the southern islands, or continue venturing south through towns and cities in the Calabria region all the way into Palermo. Alternatively, you can plan an excursion up north beginning with a one-hour train ride to Rome and the glorious Roman-era landmarks.

Looking to unwind? Try Estonia: We know Estonia is by no means the most widely recognized country, but the small, recently independent, secluded state actually has a lot to offer. Estonia is known to house one of the best kept old towns in Europe. And with a population of 1.3 mn people and thousands of kms of forests, you can find yourself in a small house away from the regular travel destination. Once you get there, make sure you visit the open museum just outside the capital Tallinn and the Estonian National Museum in Tartu.

London, still the best a city can offer: It’s easy to forget in the dash to find spots off the beaten path for your city getaway, how rewarding a short trip to London can still be. The availability of and accessibility to everything is what makes the city so satisfying. Sure, many European cities have those precious few standout spots that make a whole trip worthwhile, but how many can still offer up a buffet of pubs, theatres, galleries, concerts large and small, movie houses, and yes world-class eateries from, yes, every corner of the globe? Sure it can be a tad pricey, but hey — you’re on vacation.

Our travel bucket list

Patagonia, Argentina: Situated at the southernmost tip of the South American continent, the Patagonia region — shared by both Argentina and Chile — has to be home to some of the most awe-inspiring natural terrains left on this earth. The environment is ruthless and unforgiving to its inhabitants for most of the year, but probably none of that matters when looking out at the dramatic snow capped mountains across vast expanses of fiery, grassy plains or watching a humpback whale breach several meters out of the ocean before falling back down into the icy waters with a thundering splash. Patagonia’s dramatic scenery and out of reach location put in the running for the closest thing to Eden on earth.

Follow the footsteps of Charles Darwin in the Galápagos Islands. A province of Ecuador, the volcanic archipelago islands lie about 1k km off its coast in the Pacific Ocean. The isolated terrain shelters a unique diversity of plant and animal species that you just can’t find anywhere else in the world. When Charles Darwin visited in 1835, his observation of Galápagos' species led him to embark on wiring the theory of evolution. But it could be enough to just walk along the beach or snorkel with sea lions and turtles.

Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan: Not many people realize that visiting the Japanese capital, Tokyo, is like being in more than one city at once, and understandably so. From history, we know that Japan embarked on and succeeded in an ambitious quest to emulate the West. This, as many a historian has put it, gave it a curious blend of tradition and modernity. You don’t need to be convinced further when you know that this building and this one exist in the same city, and that is to say nothing of the richness and allure of Japanese culture.

Far from the futuristic levitating trains and robot restaurants of Tokyo, Kyoto is a center of tradition and serenity. Moving at a slower and more deliberate pace, this is where you go to learn and about the history of old kingdoms, samurais and geishas, away from that frenetic city pace. The zen gardens, world-renown and replicated in miniature form in central parks worldwide, are also simply mesmerizing.

Your top 5

Your top 5 stories for July:

  • Egypt reopened its international airspace to regularly scheduled commercial flights.
  • The PMI reading for June showed signs that the Egyptian economy is beginning to stabilize.
  • Annual urban inflation ticked up to 5.6% in June.
  • The Arab African International Bank purchased a 12.25% stake in Palm Hills Developments for EGP 544.2 mn.
  • The House of Representatives authorized President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to deploy troops to Libya.

Because being relaxed is at the heart of any vacation, CIB offers its Wealth clients a service of luxury to put your mind at ease. CIB Wealth Concierge services can take care of the errands that could hold you back from taking and enjoying that well-deserved holiday, all while prioritizing your time and well-being. From destination information to hotel reservations, they’ve got you covered to get the most out of your summer days without any worries.

CIB Wealth Concierge services, offered in partnership with Les Concierges Egypt, has a host of services that can be personalized based on your particular needs. CIB Wealth customers have exclusive and immediate access to a wide range of round-the-clock tailored services, using their own personalized code at Les Concierges Egypt. Services include:

  • All-purpose coordinator
  • Personal shopper
  • Entertainment guide
  • Errand runner
  • Vacation planner
  • Home maintenance specialist

For more information, visit Les Concierges Egypt, send an email to, or call at +201022881110.

Terms and conditions apply.

Enterprise travel tips

When you’re on a trip, thorough planning ahead of time can go a long way in making your time enjoyable, but there are some inevitable snags that can really put a damper on your vacation. Luckily for the human race, and because necessity is the mother of invention, there is quite the array of online and non-digital tools at our disposal to address even the most minor of inconveniences. We present to you a few tried-and-true tools and tips:

Do you always seem to forget to pack one essential item every time you travel and wish you had relied on a list? PackPoint does just that. The app takes the stress out of packing by customizing a list of what you need in your bag based on the length of your trip, the weather in your destination, and the activities you have planned along the way.

We know this seems basic and obvious, but Google Maps can really be your best friend on a trip. The app and the desktop version both have incredibly useful features that make the service as functional as possible — so, no, it’s not just an online map. For example, the app works offline (which is oftentimes a godsend if you’re traveling without a data roaming package or just get stuck somewhere without connectivity), and allows you to save and label locations if you want to plan your daily itinerary ahead of time.

For the cultured traveler heading to Europe, we can’t recommend Rick Steves Audio emphatically enough. The app has a large library of self-guided walking tours that cover a long list of historic and cultural sites all around the continent, which is perfect if you want to actually know why you’re looking at half-destroyed pillars in Athens, or want someone to “talk” to you as you roam around a city rich with history.


Flush: If you’re traveling light and happen to be out on a daylong excursion in a city without a clear idea of when you’ll next find yourself with, ahem, indoor plumbing Flush (here for iOS users and here for Android) can come in handy. The app maps out the precise location and details of public bathrooms for most major cities. Flush gives you tips on how to get there when to access it and a rating on cleanliness.

And while we’re on the topic of bathrooms: For those of you who haven’t discovered the beauty of having a portable shatafa when you’re in a country where toilets don’t have them built in, we present to you Fresh Buzz. The frankly groundbreaking product changed many an Egyptian life when it hit the market four years ago, and works great both for short trips outside the country and for those of you who live abroad but aren’t blessed with a built-in shatafa.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2021 Enterprise Ventures LLC.