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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Road Trip - Overview

We had planned an outing to western Egypt and the World War II monuments and museums for this year.  I had thought about a visit to El Alamein for quite a while and then, a few months ago, I heard that the Rommel Cave Museum in Marsa Matrouh had been reopened.  That sounded like enough to be worth a special trip.  And perhaps we could return to Alexandria as well.  The last couple of times we had been to Alexandria were on a "day trip" basis - and it makes for a VERY long day.

I wasn't sure what to expect.  I had seen Desert Rats from 1953 where Richard Burton conquers the elusive Rommel in the sand. 

I imagined an area possibly like the one shown in this picture that we would view in one of the war museums.

My imagination conjured up visions of a ribbon of gravel road through sand littered with tank parts, gun barrels and an occasional downed airplane.  Over the years Linda has frequently told the story of her trip to Siwa Oasis near the Libyan border some twenty-six years ago.  Siwa had only one hotel. She made an intermediate stop at the small village of Marsa Matrouh and much of what I recalled of her delightfully described visit was barren sand and a few goats.  Well, that and the description of two drivers on the bus swapping seats while the bus maintained a steady 55 mph. (where but Egypt!)

The intervening years have changed the geography.  The highway from Cairo to Alexandria is four lanes in each direction for 200km. Wide frontage roads flank the route.

At the cutoff (green arrow on the map above), the tollway (10LE or $.60) to El Alamein  narrows to three lanes in each direction.
RoadSplit-2 Infra5-1

Along the Mediterranean, the road from Alexandria all the way to Marsa Matrouh runs about a quarter mile to a mile inland from the water.  It is also three lanes in each direction.  The sixty-five mile distance from Alexandria to el Alamein is lined with vacation condominiums on the seaward side and villas on the other with colors ranging from sand to garish.




If a small spot has somehow escaped development, a sign shows what is to come.

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