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Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Day in Alexandria

While Sharon was with us, we took a day-trip to the seaport of Alexandria.  It was a long day, with a van arriving for transportation at 6:30 a.m.  We headed out of town on the Alexandria Desert Road, one of two major highways linking Cairo to Egypt's "Second City."

Now, Google will tell you that this is about 135 miles (218 km) and should take about 2 and a half hours.  They lie.  Well, maybe they just don't know about the road construction, the speed bumps and the traffic.  Our driver put a heroic four hours into the morning's effort, never once hitting an oncoming truck going north in the southbound lanes, or a donkey cart on the highway or a pedestrian crossing it.

We never drive here.  Taxis are cheap.  Three dollars will get you most places you would like to go and you can rent a car and driver for far less than you'd rent a car in the states.

Along the route we stopped at a rest stop, eschewing a brand new shiny McDonalds for this more traditional coffee shop with nearby mosque.

A good part of the drive was spent making our way across Alexandria to our first stop at  the beautiful Montazah Palace.

Our last trip to Alexandria was in 2010, a year before the revolution.  We were very impressed with the city as the coastal climate means a lot more greenery and a lot less dust than we experience in Cairo.  We thought the drive along the Corniche and much of the rest of the city had a very European look.

So I was quite disappointed to see that the general appearance of many buildings still showed battle scars.

A few buildings, like the classic Hotel Cecil have been well-repaired.

Just as the retail market in downtown Cairo has largely moved onto the sidewalks, a similar scene presents itself along both sides of the streets near the main square.

General Sisi posters and merchandise can be found, of course.


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