Oct 28, 2012
Today we docked in Alexandria, Egypt. We were not sure if we had a tour, because we thought we had scheduled through Ramsey’s Tours, but we did not confirm before we left. After we passed through customs we went outside but could not find our tour guide. We did find someone from the same company so he helped us get a driver. We had Haney as our personal guide. He is from Alexandria and has been guiding for about 20 years. We had a private tour with just Eva and I. We first went on a driving tour of waterfront area. The traffic was very light because of the Muslim festival. This is the celebration for the pilgrimage to Mecca. They spend 4 days feasting all night long so they sleep in late. However, when they wake up later in the morning, they start celebrating again, and at that point the traffic got real bad. They had celebrations going on all around the town. They had street markets and amusement rides everywhere. There are buses that bring people in from the rural areas for the day’s celebration.
The first stop was the new Alexandria library. However, it was closed due to the holiday. We then drove to the King’s winter palace grounds. It was over 340 acres with 2 palaces, and gardens all around. The gardens are open to the public and one palace is now a hotel. The other palace is for Heads of State or other VIPs.
Next, we drove to the Pillar of Pompey. While we were there they started the call for noon prayer. The mosques have loudspeakers that call everyone to prayer, but there are so many mosques they over-talk each other. We did not see anyone praying, but we were in a tourist area, not where most people were. It seems the locals are quite practical. They still continue what they are doing, even in the prayer time. They have 5 times for prayer each day.
We then went to the ruins of a Roman Theater. This area was excavated while they were going to build a stadium. There is a small amphitheater, a school and a Roman bath area. There was also an area where they think may have been markets. Everything is 20-30 feet below the current street level. The theater is designed with perfect acoustics. You could stand in a spot and hear yourself speak like you were amplified.
At this site they had a bunch of archaeological finds that were recovered from the ocean floor off the coast of Alexandria. This location was the place that they restored and cleaned the pieces. However, they are not doing it now because they don’t have the money. They had a pile of ancient pots just piled up next to a building. They don’t have the money and these types of pots were very common. Haney was telling us everywhere they dig; there are ruins from some period of time. Since everything they build was from stone, the ruins last a long time. Alexandria has been a major location for people to live for several thousand years.
The next stop was the Abu-el-Abbas el Mursi Mosque. We just took a few pics of the outside, Because of the festivals, the grounds were covered with markets and amusement rides.
Next we drove and looked at the remains of the lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the 7 wonders of the world. Only the base remains, as the tower fell in the sea during an earthquake. It was over 400 ft high and was the world’s first lighthouse. It was just too crowded to drive very close. The traffic had gotten quite bad. They do not have traffic laws and don’t obey any signs or road lines. The pedestrians just go wherever they want and weave in and out of traffic. I am very surprised that we did not have some type of accident or hit a pedestrian. These drivers are very good.
We ate lunch at a seafood place on the harbor; it was a pretty fancy place. Eva even ate fish. That was a first. She did not eat all of it, but some of it. We did not eat the salad, but the dessert was ice cream and fruit. These were the two things they told us not to eat. But this was a pretty nice place, and Alexandria was much cleaner and more modern than Port Said, or even the parts of Cairo we were in. We thought it would be okay. Plus we wanted some ice cream.
After our tour of the city we drove back to the ship. We went to the hot tub, and then we ate with the two sisters from our group. We were about 3 hour’s late leaving Alexandria because someone died on the ship. We had to wait while the removed the body. We don’t know what happened, but probably old age. With the group on this ship I’m surprised some one doesn’t die every day.
Later that evening we heard the delay in leaving port was because the local official did not want the body unloaded in Egypt. But the ship and the family wanted to end the cruise and go home. There was quite a discussion on the ship’s gangway trying to resolve the issue. We never heard what they worked out.