Arrived in Alexandria at 1am after catching a few flights up from Luxor. Ended up staying at the historic Sofitel in old Alexandria, woke up late and walked out to our balcony. We were greeted to a beautiful view of the blue Mediterranean coastline and the buildings of the city which stretched in all directions around the bay. A friend of a friend picked us up and immediately told us “don’t get scared if you feel like you are in a Hollywood action movie” – he was of course referring to the crazy way Alexandrian’s drive. He then went on to tell us, “they built a road and the engineers knew from pictures that roads have white lines on them so they painted some lines” – the lines are in fact not even a suggestion for drivers – they are never used to keep cars in their lanes rather we saw many cars driving down the middle of these lines. The coastal rode is often used as a racetrack and there are codes among drivers to indicate when one driver wants to race another (use of lights and horn in certain ways).
In any case we had a fabulous day – we’ve been rushing all over Egypt and it was time to take a day just for relaxtion. A 3.5 hour lunch will certainly help. We went to the original Balbaa Village a fantastic Egyptian restaurant buried somewhere on the backstreets of Alexandria. No tourists here but lots of authentic Egyptian dishes and tons of seafood. Plate after plate came out for 3 hours and we gorged ourselves on everything from pigeon to pickles.
Its not quite summer anymore and its not quite winter but we went for a bracing swim anyways. I swam out as far as I could in the crystal blue bay looking many meters down to the bottom as the water was very clear. I was splashing around on the shoreline next to a man and his three wives. The ladies were covered fully in burkas but didn’t seem to mind getting completely wet (up to their heads).
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Library at Alexandria) is huge (as in shelf space for more than 8 million books!) – this is the largest and most inspiring library I’ve ever seen. Its been built several times (fires) but still stands more or less close to the original spot from more than 2 thousand years ago. One of exhibits is on Anwar Sadat who was assassinated. His blood stained clothes are on display. The current Egyptian President, Hosni Mobarak was standing right next to Mr. Sadat when he was shot. Here are a few more pics: