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Published: October 31st 2010
After a slightly rocky 4 days on the boat, I'm in Alexandria. I'm in Egypt. I'm sat on a dusty, busy, noisy seafront, watching what must be the entire population of the city drive past, struggling to hear myself think. I'm here. I've made it to Africa. Now it starts getting interesting.
We finally arrived in Egypt just after midday (Sunday 24 Oct). The journey was actually quit enjoyable - spent sleeping, reading, and playing cards and backgammon. The only problem was that my wine didn't last very long and the price of beer at the bar was too steep (maybe that's for the best though?). Entry to Egypt was my first taste of Passport Bedlam - the official couldn't speak English, the French couldn't queue, and no-one had any idea what was happening. I felt quite sorry for the customs officer (a feeling I've not had before) who was trying to organise everything in the onslaught. If only the French train workers were as enthusiastic as this lot. And after 90 mins, the passports and visas had been organised, paid for, handed out, and we were finally allowed off the boat and onto dry land.
Alexandria, although it's
apparently a lot quieter than Cairo, is really quite frantic, especially after the order of the ferry. My head is filled with the noise of cars driving past, and their drivers frantically hammering their horns, and bus boys shouting out the destinations of their vehicles. The city has a very energetic feel, and everyone is heading somewhere, doing something. The strangest part of the day is thinking I've sailed to India - it's quiteodd but the two countries feel very similar - the hustle and bustle, the smells, the noise, the clothes. Even down to the road curbs they use. Needless to say I'm quite liking the place. Maybe helped by the fact that the men seem to enjoy winking - I've received 3 so far, and I've only been here a few hours. It's good to see I've still got the charms...
And as I sit on the corniche looking north over the Mediterranean, the smell of roasting corns from a street vender, the dust from the road, and aroma of coffee from the cafes spreads into the air. It's the first bit of culture shock on the trip. The first time things have seemed exotic. And as it starts to sink in, it feels great.
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