We dock in Alexandria around 7:15 but I have been up for an hour or so. Once I have had my 6 hours it is difficult to stay prone. Not sure what gene it is but it gets me up when the sun rises. I sneak out to get a coffee and sit on our balcony. As I am slowly waking along comes a Dolphin and swims alongside the ship right outside our cabin. I grab my camera and run off a few shots as it breaches the waves to grab air. In the end I just sit and watch as it plays around easily keeping pace with us. Judi thinks I should have woken her but its a choice you take it was not there for long
We take on the outer harbor pilot who steers us into the Western Docks. This is a working port and there are ships of every shape and size and you can see the cranes and barges already working hard to load and unload them. Another pilot brings us to the pier with precision we gently come to rest close to the port gates. On the other side of the pier is another cruise liner which looks to be 4 or 5 times our size. Our tea and coffee arrive and we collect ourselves. We are not doing the Pyramids this trip one because we have already seen them, two because it is a 3 and a half hour journey each way so 7 hours in a coach is not a holiday.
We are doing “Easy Alexandria” Named after Alexander the Great as his Imperial capital the all conquering warrior never actually lived here dying at 33 he was brought here for burial although they are not exactly sure where. Alexandria was the capitol of Egypt under the Ptolemy’s and the Romans. It was Cleopatra’s base and had one of the seven wonders of the world the Pharos lighthouse and the Library which for several decades was the leading place in the world for all manuscripts. Books were confiscated from travelers arriving here copied and handed back. The unfortunate thing is fate failed to smile and the city fell into decline being revived by Mohammed Ali in the 1800’s. The British also used the port during both world wars. You can see the former glory in some of the buildings however it only serves to remind you of how it was not how it is.
How it is is rather different, the Egyptians have a knack of accumulating rubbish and they do it well every gutter and street corner has 20th century rubbish, drinks bottles and cans, plastic bags, remnants of food and everything in between. Lets hope the Pharos are not looking down on them, once leaders of civilization and architecture and now something else entirely.
Out tour starts at the Fort of Qait Bay partially built from the rubble of the lighthouse which shows a healthy disrespect for ancient monuments which we in the west have also adopted, lets tear it down rather then preserve it. It was Ok neat and at least clean, on to the new Library with strangely enough lots of books. For some reason our guide can not take us in and we wait for an “official” guide for 40 minutes (Process & progress). The new guide tells us all about the new library but nothing at all about the old one. The only point our tour remembers is the ticket includes an hours free internet access so everyone dashes off to the machines as soon as she stops speaking. Several emails and facebook entries later we head for the Roman Amphitheater. Quite good but a little small. Ruined by the Egyptians building a new one opposite the original and spoiling the ambiance. It is very hot and we are given 40 minutes to wander around a 400 meter site not surprisingly we head for the coach after 15.
Back at the dock we decide not to head for the ship but to take a walk around the shops. Once we pass the Taxi and horse carriage drivers who in other countries would be charged with harassment we saunter around. Surprisingly we are ignored by most people even though we are plainly not local and are dressed in white with straw hats on. We enter a road full of stalls selling food, there is a man with a bicycle which is covered in herbs which people are pulling off and buying. Tomatoes, potatoes, various peppers and lots of stalls selling fish. I really really want to get me camera out but decide I will commit it to memory. No picture could adequately show the mayhem. The Fish mongers are trying to out shout each other laughing and clowning around the people being drawn one way then the other as freshness is touted as well as price. It is all great fun an we just stand and watch for a while as shrimps, crabs and small fish are wrapped in newspaper and handed over for a few coins. Whilst we stand several people say hello or ask are we ok or how we like their town. It is difficult right now to comment on litter even though it is in the back of my mind.
We eventually drift off as we are not looking for food but some linen trousers for me. We are guided into a few shops by eager locals and eventually I find what I am (well Judi) is looking for not too trendy and not too thin. Just right although possibly 4 or 5 inches too long, no matter I will just roll them up. Eventually we head back the souk was a blast and it is a little “Hansel and Grettle” trying to retrace your way out of one of those places but with a little help we are back where we started from. We were probably fleeced on price but in reality we still paid cents on the dollar.
The afternoon is spent hanging around although we did try the 4:30 trivia quiz and got 9.5 of 20 which should be worrying (although we were not the lowest) but given the first prize is a luggage tag it is not worth worrying over. We head for diner which tonight is “undefined seating” which means just find a table. A number of the passengers are staying overnight in Cairo so they have reduced the dining into one sitting. We manage to sit at our usual table and we talk to some Scottish people who had braved the 7 hour Pyramid trip and their comments were all about the rubbish and heavy handed hawkers. A shame to come away from what I consider to be possibly the greatest series of building made by man thinking only of the impact of modern society on it.
We meet ups with David an Jo for a drink or 2 or 3 later taking our leave only when I point out we have Yoga again tomorrow.