Published: July 12th 2012July 12th 2012
Right in the middle of the city. This marks the spot where Alexander and his troops set down the foundation stones for his city. Everything expanded out from here.
It's an ongoing joke that started last year that whenever I take a day trip I first listen to the Beatles' "Day Tripper." I know the Beatles probably weren't thinking of travel trips when they wrote this song, but that doesn't matter. What was even better today is that Ahmed knew and loved the song and he had an iPod hook-up in his car, so imagine this: driving out of Cairo to the desert at 7 in the morning with the windows down blaring Day Tripper. Ahmed knew all of the words. Kept on playing Beatles music for a good hour or so. Hilarious to hear an Arab man sing along.
Alexandria is the premier Egyptian Mediterranean city, and is about 2 1/2 hours North of Cairo. It is I've found the favorite city for most Egyptians, since it's generally less crowded and cooler overall. We got in by around 10ish. Going around to the major places of the city was actually incredibly sad. Alexandria was founded by none other than Alexander the Great and grew to become the most important artistic and intellectual center in the ancient world. I mean this is where Euclid developed geometry, where the circumferance
Good View of Pompey Pillar
Nicknamed that for the Roman General who lost against Julius Caesar and fled to Egypt. But when he arrived the Egyptians had him beheaded to try and please Caesar. It didn't work.
of the Earth was calculated, and where the absolute best books were kept in the Alexandrian Library. This is also where the famous Pharos Lighthouse, another wonderful of the Ancient World, once stood. Cleopatra ruled from here and died with Anthony. Next to Rome, this was the place to be.
But absolutely knowing is left of this glorious past. At least in Rome and Athens you have ruins. But the Library was burned many times over, there's not even a stone left of the Pharos Lighthouse, and most of the ancient city has been swallowed up by the sea. The mummy of Alexander the Great is said to be somewhere out there in the ocean (he was declared a pharoah among many things, and his general, Ptomely, started the famous Ptolemaic line of rulers). And all of this is sad because one of the greatest of great cities the world has ever seen is really only known about because it is remembered. Nothing on land really says that much was ever here. Is this the fate of every city? Humbling to the say the very least.
One the actual tangible sites at Alexandria are the catacombs of Kom
Only Roman theater in all of Egypt. Tiny compared to those in Greece.
Ash-Shuqqafa, which were discovered not too long ago when a donkey mysteriously vanished into the earth. Annoyed because they took my camera away before I could go down to the catacombs. So, no photos. But you basically descend down a long and winding staircase into ancient and very creepy burial chambers that are so interesting because they mix Egyptian images with Greek and Roman motifs as well. One wall relief had the Egyptian death-God Anubis dressed as a Roman legionnaire. You could get lost in this place, and the water table is so high in this area that the lower you got, the tombs and the floor were actually full of water.
Able to take photos of the other great places of the city. Ahmed bought me Egyptian ice cream (which is delicious) so I thought of the quintessential American experience and treated him to a coffee at Starbucks. This was inside a mall outside of town that was honestly like being inside Cherry Creek or Park Meadows. Every major Western store was here. Then took the long drive back and got caught in the nightmarish traffic heading back into Cairo. It took at least 2 hours to probably
At the Pharos Lighthouse
This area is where the lighthouse had stood.
go 15 miles. I was going to get out and walk but didn't want to leave Ahmed to suffer alone. Finally got back around 7ish.
Tomorrow I fly down to Luxor, farther down the Nile.
There are more photos below