We took a local bus for 6 hours to Massawa, the closest Red Sea port. The bus ride started pleasantly enough (and only cost about $1.50), with the cool temperatures of Asmara (at 7,500 feet), but as we descended to sea level, it got hotter than I would have thought possible! The heat in the desert was about 105°F and seems unbearable, especially from March to September.
Once we arrived in Massawa, we found one of the largest populated ghost towns I have seen! The steamy streets were deserted, and we walked down the middle of large roads built by Italian colonizers 75 years ago, marvelling at the beautiful architecture. We wandered through the old Turkish parts of Massawa and the bombed-out palace of Hallie Selassie (his furniture is still inside the structure - look through the window on the second floor).
We ended up taking a boat to Green Island and trying to cool off on the small spit of land that has a small beach. It was no doubt a beautiful city at one point, but poverty has taken its toll.