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Aqueous Alexandria

January 19, 2011

We decided that, on our last full day, we would take a day-trip to Alexandria. So we made our reservation, were picked up by the car (we got a car and a guide for a lot less than you would expect) and off we went.

The first thing I noticed about Alexandria were the oil refineries on the way in to town. At the risk of sounding ignorant, I had no idea that Alexandria did oil refining.

The second thing I noticed was how modern Alexandria looked, on the way in. We passed a huge shopping mall and across from that was a restaurant complex.

The third thing I noticed was all the water! We had been told by Mr. Doss the previous evening that we should not go to Alexandria because the forecast was for a lot of rain. Well, we had already made the arrangements so we went anyway.

Apparently they don’t have as good of drainage systems as there are in the U.S., as there were lakes of water everywhere. I say lakes, not puddles, because honestly, I expected to see water fowl swimming around in them, they were so large and deep. We figured it was okay because the rain had come and gone, and we were lucky to have missed it.

Well, no such luck. When we arrived at our first destination, Amud El-Sawari (or Pompey’s Pillar),  the sky was starting to darken. As we were walking toward the tombs, it started to rain lightly. No problem – I can handle light rain. Hah…while we were in the tomb, it started pouring rain. We waited for a little while to see if it would lighted up, but no such luck. So out in the rain we went, and by the time we got to shelter, we were drenched. And cold.

Needless to say, things did not start out very well!

Next we decided to stop for lunch. As usual, we told him “no fancy restaurants” and I ended up getting my cheapest lunch yet – THREE falafel sandwiches and a fuul sandwich for 3.5 pounds. You just cannot go wrong that way!

By this time, the rain had lightened significantly, so we decided to go to the Roman Odeon.  It was so interesting to see it, as it really did remind me of some of the artifacts and architecture I saw when I was in Italy in 2006. And what do you think happened when we were there? Yes, it started pouring rain again – this weather was just not giving us a break at all!

At this point Terry asked me whether we were going to, at some point, throw in the towel and call it a day. I said absolutely not – we drove three hours to get here, so we needed to see SOME of the things we had wanted to see. What also made it a challenge was the fact that almost everything there closes at 4 p.m., and if you want to see it, you need to get there by 3. So, largely because of the weather issue, we never got to see the catacombs, which I really wanted to see.

We did get to see the Citadel, however.  The Citadel is build on the site where the Lighthouse of Alexandria had been built (one of the original Seven Wonders of the World). It is located at the entrance of the harbor, and had many interesting aspects, photo-wise, to it (again, photos on Picasa. I sound like an ad, don’t I?). It is not used for anything other than tourism anymore but it was interesting to walk around.

Our last place to visit was the National Museum. We bypassed the new library – we saw the outside and it was beautiful, but seemed out of place because it is so modern. The museum was much smaller than the one in Cairo, but I liked it better because the layout was logical and everything was clearly marked, in both Arabic and English.

We got back to the hotel around 7:30 and ran into Mr. Doss and his daughter again. He was so relieved to see us – his daughter, Marileez, told us that he had been worried about us being out in that weather for the whole day. He was so glad to see us, and kept telling us about all the news they had heard about this storm, how there had been all these accidents (we did not see any).

Again, where in the world would you expect a hotel owner to not only remember his guests, but to worry about them? Rarely do I use the word “delightful” to describe people, but that certainly is accurate in this case.



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