YOU AND I, OH HOW HAPPY WE'LL BE. That's an old song that keeps coming to mind.
Our van coming from Alexandria is late due to heavy fog so our departure is delayed for 1 ½ hours. We thought, heavy fog in the desert? Then we realised he was travelling along the coast for a few hours before turning south and inland. This is good news for Francine so she can sleep in a little since she was up vomiting last night. But the extra rest has paid off and she is feeling a little better this morning, just tired. But not hungry.
All but Francine, have a good breakfast at our favorite diner and head off in a private mini van for Alexandria and the trip will take about 8 hours. We do make a few stops along the way.
The first stop is to:El Alamin Military Museum. It commemorates the El Alamin battles and the battles of north Africa during WWII. It has halls for the different countries that participated: Italy, Egypt, Germany, and England and the Commonwealth nations.
Our 2nd stop was the Commonwealth Cemetery where 11,000 fallen soldiers were buried from
the battles in WWII fought in the African campaign. We read the headstones, some with names, ages-usually early 20's, family prayers / thoughts, some to the unknown soldier. Emotional to say the least.
Driving along the highway towards the city of Alexandria we have a first view of the Mediterranean Sea is an absolute delight. It looks very inviting and we picture ourselves on our sailing boat next month. There are massive amounts of construction works for hotels and resort style living for the rich for about 50 km along the coast. Much appears to be Arab $$.
Our third stop is Alexandria. Driving into this modern metropolis we see miles of factories, oil refineries and large lakes of purplish water (polluted?). The city is much cleaner than Cairo and the azure blue water of the Mediterranean Sea is beautiful.
Our hotel's first introduction is not a welcome site. The entrance from the street has old iron gates that open up to a marble foyer that has a very unkept and run down appearance. There are businesses also running on the first 2 floors of this building, our hotel reception on the 3th floor and our rooms
THE COMMONWEALTH CEMETERY
Fallen soldiers from the Africian campaign during WWII
are on the 4th floor. The elevator is so old that I do not trust it. BUT even considering those things is has such character and charm of a grand old building the rooms are clean and large. The view of the Sea is fabulous. And we have large full length windows that open to take in the sea sights and smells and sounds. Most refreshing after the desert.
We take a quick walk around the area grab a sandwich and rice from a local fast food chicken place and head back to the hotel to work on our blog.
Alexandria exploring with Sam and Stef from Canada. They are young and very funny and we get along really well. They are now in training to take over our role as travel buddies in years to come.
The weather is lovely and refreshing with a nice breeze coming off the sea to cool everything down.
We hail a cab to the catacombs and the taxi driver agrees on price and he drives around then stops at a hotel and has the doorman ask us in English were we want to go, we say
again the catacombs, so off we go and the driver stops at the Pompey Pillar the highest construction in ancient Egypt, at 25 meters tall built in the 3rd C. Even though this is not where we want to go it is on our list so we jump out and take photos. Back into the cab and this time the driver and us talk through a tourist policeman and at least I think he understands where we want to go, because we finally get there. The catacombs of Kom El-Shoqafa date from the Pharaoh and Roman times. This cemetery is on 3 sub levels with tombs carved into the rock and a place for families to gather to morn the dead. There are 2nd C statues of the Egyptian gods, Sobeck and Anubis wearing roman armor. We can only go down so far as water has flooded the lower levels as below sea level.
The next stop on the list is The Qaitbey Fort. It sits on the northern tip of the Eastern Harbor. This sits on the original site of Pharos, Alexandria's ancient light house built in 279 BC and topped with a statue of Poseidon. It was
Photo taken through the gate not able to get in without paying, our charm doesn't work here.
one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. It eventually crumbled in the 15thC.
The fort was a great place for viewing the Mediterranean Sea. There were several groups of young men being very friendly with us. I suppose it was because of the 2 young pretty Canadians with us. One bold group actually ask to have their photo taken with the girls. The 2nd bold group of young men started by taking photos with Angie then Francine and eventually the young girl. Smart boys to start by winning over the mature women before going for their goal of talking with Sam and Stef, this group invited the girls to a party later that night and gave out their phone number to be contacted. Of course the girls were flattered by did not respond.
Our last stop for the day was to the New Alexandria Library. The original one was established 2300 years ago. It is a world class center for culture and knowledge. It opened in 2002, the construction is an ultra modern interpretation of a solar disc.
We ate lunch in a very nice Egyptian/Italian restaurant. Angie ordered lasagna and it was topped with
mashed potatoes. A new way for sure and it was actually very tasty. Francine's stomach has settled again and she has some pasta.
We stopped for ice cream at Baskins-Robbins (yes can you believe it!) Well the ice cream was not very good and extremely expensive at $2 usd per scoop. Maybe because the ice cream had been allowed to age? A donation to the trash.
We were able to find this really good internet cafe here and were able to catch up some. There is little to no secured wi-fi here in Egypt. Since our bout with a virus we will not be using unsecured internet hookups. Don't worry we didn't pass it on. Well perhaps only to Fran.
Tonight is our last dinner together as a group and we all dress up to go to the Fish Market Restaurant, this is an upscale place on the sea front.
Our table is next to the window and we have a view of the city lights across the bay. The table is set with all manner of Egyptian dips, olive, pickled vegetables, mixed salad, coleslaw, large pieces of fresh salad vegetables and lemon wrapped in muslin
THERE COMES A TIME!!!!!!!!
And there is still 3 months to go. Pay back for the beetle!!
cloth so not to have the seeds go in your food when squeezed. Never seen this in Australia. Plus freshly cooked pita bread straight from the brick oven not far from our table.
You order your meal by going up to the fish case and pick out the type of fresh fish, giant shrimp, mussels, cockles, crab, calamari and the way you would like it cooked.
Angie the non-seafood person orders 2 large shrimp fried and sea bass with lemon. Francine orders 4 mussels and some cockles and gets a bowl full of them in a light garlic herb stock, 1 large shrimp, and salmon on a sizzling platter.
Angie tries Francine's mussels and is able to swallow them without incident. She has to be told how to eat the fully intact shrimp, Holding it by the eyes was a little unnerving. However the shrimp was good and the sea bass was absolutely delicious. A fantastic meal!
Our after dinner entertainment was learning how to take pictures with an air of attitude. Not that Francine and Angie need help with attitude, they just don't know how to capture it on film. So Stef and Sam show
THE SPICE GIRLS IN EGYPT
Sam, Angie, Fran,and Stef the wanabees
them how it's done. It take several tries and some coaching but finally the perfect pose and expression says it all. From now on Angie and Francine will be showing more and more attitude so look out...........!
In the restaurant foyer there are photos of well known Egyptians and other guests to the restaurant. We recognise Roger Moore 007 and his wife and Yasser Arafat from Palestine. We have eaten in the same restaurant as a leader of Palestine. Weird.
The walk to and from the restaurant took about 20 min. one way and it was a great walk to end evening. Returning to the hotel we all sat in the lobby area of our little apartment and chatted till midnight.
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