• El Gouna International Squash Open • 10-18 April 2014 • El Gouna, Egypt •

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Funny how an event seems to be verrrrry long when we have to report on 8 matches a day for 6 days, and verrrrry quick when we have 4 or 2 matches….

The event has been busy I didn’t have a chance to tell you how we work here…
Bad girl, bad…


First, we are at the Club Paradisio Resort. Initially a French Resort – Club Med – it was apparently the first hotel in the area (dixit local Press, don’t shoot if it’s not exact). Which explains probably why the Beach is so nice – again, dixit Cubs, who took photos.

So, we have our rooms (basically, the tournament people) around a little swimming pool, that seems to have a lot of success with the Officials. If you go to the right, you find yourself at the reception – very helpful.

Then from reception, you go straight in front of you, you’ll find the biiiiiig swimming pool, with a few shops, a bar, very prized as you imagined with the splendid weather we are having.

You keep going through nice gardens, and you arrive at a funny construction that looks like a pier, in a star shape. That’s the Marco Polo Restaurant, where we were having our breakfast. Well I have about 3, then had to stop, because I really didn’t have the time to walk all over there and back, so just had a cup of tea in my room – thanks Omar for the kettle!

And behind the restaurant, the beach. I find the pictures very lovely, and Cubs confirmed that it was a very beautiful one indeed.


So that’s where we were staying. Where did we work?

Unlike 2 years ago, where the qualifying was held in Alexandria, this time, we played all the qualifying matches in the one court – excellent court truly – of the Movenpick Hotel, another stunning resort a few minutes from the Paradisio.

For the first part of the event, three days, all the matches were played there. So the plan was to go and eat at Moods at the break – thanks to a very well organised shuttle service, not like 2 years ago bless them – and come back to Movenpick. Then back again to Moods to eat dinner.

Well, needless to say we didn’t have a break every day, and that at the end of the long matches/day, we just went back to the hotel and died there!!!!

Once the “real tournament” started, it was a bit simpler, but as short between the sessions as before. We smelled our delicious food more than we ate several “lunches”, and again, instead of having a dinner, back to the room to collapse and work some more….

Now from the quarters, life has finally started! As the glass court is about 120 seconds from our Moods food provider, things are extremely simple.

Work in the morning from the room (I still haven’t managed to get any breakfast), then off to Moods for 5, food, then off to the tournament office next to the court, set up, matches, run like a headless chicken to try and get quotes from the Egyptian players – Mission: Impossible – writing reports, and dinner at Moods, breathing the lovely sea air and relaxing.

So last day today. Tomorrow, off to Zurich for the Grasshopper, on my own, Cubs is going home, and will be working on the event from remote, while I’ll be stuffing myself with White Chocolate.

I know, life is tough but somebody’s got to live it….

 El Gouna EN BREF    everything you never knew you needed to know about the El Gouna International
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El Gouna EN BREF   Issue #1
  everything you never knew you needed to know about the El Gouna International


After a pretty hectic few days in Paris, where I’m finally managing to go back to my real job (acting for those who don’t know), with heavy/variable schedule going from 4.30 am start on one day, and a 5am finish on another, grabbing one hour sleep on the Egyptair flight Paris/Cairo was a bit of a relief!

My flight was fine, but Cubs London/Cairo was 90m late. And he only had a a 90mgap efore the Hurghada flight. Instead of that, I found myself pleading with the Egyptair personnel “don’t leave without Cubs!” kind of feel!...

But he and Greg Marche (who was coming from Paris) eventually made it onto the Hurghada flight. Add to that Omar Abdel Aziz who was sitting right next to me on the plane and it was a very pleasant ride indeed! Not sure the other passengers enjoyed our constant chatter and catching up, but I certainly did!!!

After a short trip to El Gouna by minibus arranged by the lovely Omar El Sherbini, Tournament Technical Director, we arrived to the Club Paradisio Resort about 1am. Quick check in, room sprayed for mosquitoes – they seem to feed off the thing to be honest, must be a mutant race – twin beds joined together, unpacked and zzzz at 2am. Pfew.

The fun part started the next morning when Cubs – right next door – and I decided to get to the Breakfast. The place is truly lovely, beautiful swimming pools (plenty of them), private beach, airy reception, but the challenge is to get from one point to another. The directions are a bit subtle, if they exist at all, and you need a compass to find your way! I’m sure you get used to it (Cubs is already finding his way like a native), but I keep getting lost. Which I know, is not that unusual…

After catching up on the many many mails and things to do for the sites/tournaments running at the moment, off we decided to go to the Glass Court. Took a tuktuk of course – Cubs would have rather taken the shuttle, but I looooove the TukTuks.

We arrived at the Marina, and started looking for the court. We already knew it wasn't  on the same location as the previous years - where they actually are organising a Fashion Show as we speak (and guess where the Models are staying? Oh yes, same lovely Paradisio resort, the boys are happy happy).

We walked around, and couldn’t find the glass court, so we went to Moods, the beautiful restaurant that is again sponsoring the tournament this year, bless their lovely cutlery and gorgeous food. We asked the barman directions: “it’s very simple, you take a tuktuk, you ask him to take you Downtown to a place called Germany, he’ll know.”

So we went back allllll the way to the entrance of the Marina. Took the “Number 1 Tuktuk” driven by a lovely man called Mimo, who said, “well, I don’ t know that place. But I tell you what, we’ll go to the Information Centre downtown, they're’ll bound to know”.

Off we go to the Information Centre. On the counter, leaflets for the El Gouna Open. That started well we thought… So we pick one up and say, “that’s where we want to go…”

“It’s situated at bla blabla” the man says. We understand enough to know that he means the old venue, so we say, "not this year, that was two years ago”.

“Oh you mean the Squash Tournament," he said. "I thought you meant the Fashion Show!”.

No comment.

Anyway, he gives us the right direction, the New Marina. And off we go again… to come back EXACTLY where we were.

Basically, if you look at the sea from Moods, and turn left, there you are. About one minute walk away…


But our TukTuk story doesn’t stop there. Trust Cubs to give you another heart attack after the “am I going to make it to the flight in time,” on the tuk tuk we took back to go back to the Paradisio, he managed to forget his case with camera, phone, money and room key.

Thank GOD for some strange reason, I spotted the TukTuk number (3), and the Hotel Reception very swiftly got on the phone, and talked to the man himself. Within 10 minutes, Cubs was reunited with all his stuff.

Back to the room – I again needed Cubs direction – and here I am typing away… It’s sooo good to be back in El Gouna….

Thank you Amr Mansi. Thank you Omar El Sherbini….

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