Traveling to Egypt: Alexandria – Day 9 (2021-01-29)

Today we have one full day to see Alexandria. To start, I woke up in time to go out and see the sunrise. I was taking pictures of the shoreline and the boats when a guard came out and told me I wasn’t allowed to. What? (Out of spite I took a picture of a half Egyptian flag on the top of his guard station.) I relocated but it seemed rather daft, especially since I had already been therefore at least 15 minutes taking photographs.

One thing you will notice is that the coastline is far from clean. It is such a shame to see. It is a problem throughout Egypt. We frequently see people just throwing their garbage out the window or tossing it where they are sitting. It is so foreign to me but it is clearly not taboo here. Unfortunately, it shows, and it is even more noticeable on what could otherwise be a beautiful shoreline.

Once we had showered, we packed up and switched Airbnb’s, dropping off our bags in the process before walking to the main road along the coast.  From there we caught a minibus taxi (having such a good experience from the day prior and took it until they turned around. (Although, we learned that the price was actually EGP 4.5 rather than the EGP 5 we paid the day before – a whopping USD 0.30 difference). This put us close enough to our first destination, the Citidel of Quaitbay.

From there we walked to the Sidi Abo El Abbas El Morsi Mosque and then through a market (my favorite) on route to the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa. The market was great as always.  There was a ton of fish being sold.  We even came across a vendor selling sting rays (not something I have seen sold nor something I have eaten).

At the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqaf we paid our usual fee, handed over my camera for safekeeping with the guard, and headed on down.  It was neat to walk down into the catacombs and see all the cutouts for the caskets.

On the walk from the catacombs, we were invited to sit down for lunch with some locals who were eating on the sidewalk.  Hour hosts turned out to be taxi drivers and who didn’t speak a word of English.  They opened their lunches bags and handed us some pita bread and told us to dip it in the goat cheese and hummus spread that was in the plastic containers.  Afterwards, they bought us some tea and we sat and talked.  During our stay, several other people stopped to greet us and introduce themselves.  It was great.

Towards the end a wedding celebration started (weddings last about a week here) with lots of noise and celebration. One of the performers tried to get our hosts to pay and then us to pay.  Our hosts shooed them away. This was one of best interactions with Egyptians to date and I loved every minute of it. Everyone was so hospitable. We tried paying but they wouldn’t have any of it.  The contrast between the hustling at tourist locations vs the welcoming we experienced in the everyday parts of town was so stark.

Afterwards we walked through the convergence of the taxi ranks (local minibus taxis) and the train station along with an open-air bazaar.  It was such a lively atmosphere. All the while traffic was trying to get through despite the commotion of pedestrians buying and selling.  It was wonderful.  Just outside was an ancient Roman amphitheater and since we could see in through the fence, we quickly took a picture and moved on our way.  (Just prior we also saw pigeons for sale. Hmmm?)

The lunch wasn’t exactly filling and since we had skipped breakfast, we splurged at a local fast food gyros type place and ordered the gyros.  Basically, we said give us something great and then the pointed at our choices.

Our route back intentionally went by the Alexandria library – the inside of which I was excited to see.  Unfortunately, they were closed and wouldn’t open until 2 tomorrow – well past when we had to leave town by.  Argh!  This was one site I was disappointed not to see as Alexandria isn’t exactly on the way if I should pass through Egypt again.

We briefly stopped by our apartment before heading out to see the sunrise and then off to dinner. The latter was a complete flop.  We travelled to a couple different places I picked out but they had closed down. ☹ We ended up eating at a chain like Mediterranean place, but it was nothing special.

On the way home we navigated to the tram which ran close to our Airbnb. It was EGP 1 (USD 0.64) for each of us. Even so, today was the second day we walked over 20 miles. I am way over my tolerance of tourist sites at this point, but lunch really made the day for me.

At this point we have traveled by almost every means imaginable: tram, minibus, bicycle, taxi, Uber, private car, boat, swim, walk, scooter, camel, plane, train, and ferry. Obviously, the vehicle on several of these is the same but they all required figuring out. In some cases, like the minibus taxi, we just had to hop on and hope it went in the correct direction for long enough and for a reasonable price. We watched our location on Google Maps to guess when we had to get out. Since they were obviously the way to get around for Egyptians, I was excited to give it a try even though we didn’t speak any Arabic.

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