Vacation 2013 - Egypt & Greece, Day 4 "Don't Be a Scaredy-Tourist"

Saturday, April 27, 2013 – Day 4

We were supposed to do Alexandria the last day, but Maha suggested we do it today since Sunday is the start of their work week and the roads should be less busy on a Saturday.  Alexandria is along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, about a three hour drive from Giza, so we were looking at a long day in the car. She also suggested that we request a breakfast bag to go in the morning. Breakfast was much less appetizing in this form.

 The pyramids faded into the distance as we began this long drive.

 Finally, we passed through the gates to Alexandria. 

Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC.  It was here where we learned most of how the Greek and Egyptian histories intertwined and realized it was very fitting that we had decided to visit both countries on this trip.

Traffic was really busy in Alexandria, and we were sharing the street with historic trams.  

Our first stop was the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa.  This is a historical, archeological site that is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. This necropolis consists of a series of Alexandrian tombs, statues, and archaeological objects.  Many of the features merge Roman, Greek and Egyptian cultural points. Sadly, we couldn't take our cameras. I LOVE taking pictures on vacation, so this was a major bummer to me. We started off descending a circular staircase that leads to the tombs that were tunneled into the bedrock. Deceased bodies had been transported down a large shaft in the middle of the staircase. 

Maha treated us to some delicious ice cream - she said this ice cream is one of the things she always has to get when she comes to Alexandria.  It was very yummy. 

Ice cream in hand, we began our exploration of Citadel of Qaitbay.  This is a 15th-century defensive fortress on the Mediterranean sea coast, which was built upon and from the ruins of the Lighthouse of Alexandria. It was a sizable, meandering fortress - we could have spent hours just exploring here.


Afterwards, we ate lunch at the Imperial Coffee Lounge and Restaurant then headed to the New Library of Alexandria, which was a work of art in and of itself.   The Ancient Library of Alexandria was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world.  The library was destroyed in a fire, taking with it some of the most well-known and earliest manuscripts in the world. It has since been rebuilt and its goal is to once again become the most important collection of books and manuscripts in the known world, and to work at recreating what was lost.

Then it was time for the long drive back. We ate dinner at the main restaurant at the hotel, Khan El Khalili, where we were again seated next to the window with a gorgeous view of the sun setting on the pyramid.  We shared an order of Koshary, which is a famous Egyptian dish of rice and lentils cooked together, topped with pasta, a garlic tomato sauce, and garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions with a sprinkling of garlic juice. I had a caramel mousse dessert, and Francisco had the Camel Milk Ice Cream. 

We walked around the grounds a bit and found a somewhat hidden section that took us right up to a pretty good view of the pyramids without even having to leave the grounds. 
And then I managed to convince Francisco to stop being such a "scaredy-tourist", and we ventured outside of the gates.  It was loud and smelly and we had barely taken two steps out of the gate before some shopkeeper insisted that we check out his business. We walked less than a block then retreated. ;-)


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