Traversing the Mediteranean Coast
Trip Start Feb 28, 2009
10Trip End Mar 31, 2009
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We reached Alexandria late in the day and checked into our Hotel. Hotel Crillon. This hotel was both bizarre and amazing. There were so many stuffed birds in the reception area that you couldn't help but make comparisons to the Bates Motel, yet it had a sort of faded old world charm with high ceilings and vintage furniture
The following day was all about sightseeing. We headed past Pompey's Pillar to the Catacombs of Kom Ash-Shuqqafa. To access the catacombs, you head down down a spiral staircase and there are both large and small rooms full of opening where bodies had previously been interred. It was interesting to see some of the wall paintings that showed elements of both Egyptian and Roman styles, and there was also the skeleton of a horse, not sure why but it seemed fitting.
Still on the tourist trail, we headed to Qaitbey Citadel, a beautiful old fort on the waterfront, which now serves mostly as a tourist attraction. It felt like more Egyptian students visiting than international tourists. What I was most interested in, was that this fort is said to be located on the previous site of the Pharos Lighthouse that collapsed in antiquity. The lighthouse was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, but there was nothing even referring to the old lighthouse
On the other side of Alexandria is the Biblioteca Alexandrina. A working library that stands as a tribute to the ancient library of Alexandria and the ideals that it stood for. This was the most modern structure I had seen so far in Egypt and definitely no less impressive than the ancient temples. The main part of the library is housed in a huge sloping discus representing the sun and the external walls are carved with texts from different languages. The inside is equally impressive, with large columns and and an open area able to hold eight million books. It's scale was just enormous.
The following day brought a train journey back to Cairo and the end of my organised tour. In retrospect I was glad I had done the tour. I was able to share my experiences with other people and I don't think we would have been able to travel to some of the places we did without our Egyptian tour manager. This was the end of the first part of my trip. The second half would be much different to the first. I was ready for some new experiences. So many temples in such a short space of time had made it increasingly difficult to appreciate everything you see.