Alexandria for the weekend
Alexandria Travel Blog› entry 8 of 12 › view all entries
When my colleague and I started planning our Cairo trip and training schedule we had trouble fitting it into a normal work week.
We’re here to train a customer helpdesk, and as the helpdesk always needs to remain manned (day and night) we’d have to split the agents in two groups and do every training twice. My colleague needed almost two full days for training and my own trainings added up to a total of 1.5 days, so doing all these trainings twice we would come to 7 days of training. And even in Cairo they don’t work seven-day weeks, so I would have to stay the weekend in order to continue the trainings on Monday and Tuesday, while my colleague flew home on Friday.
Now what to do during a weekend off in Egypt? I didn’t want to stay in Cairo.
So I started looking at other nice places to spend the weekend instead.
Alexandria was my first choice. Alexandria is somewhat off the standard tourist route, so I wouldn’t upset any potential future travbuddies if I’d go there. One of my colleagues had warned me about dust storms which happen frequently this time of the year. However, one of my other colleagues is from Alexandria originally and he assured me the weather would be fine. A quick check with someone on TB confirmed this, so the choice was easily made: Alexandria it is!
I took a taxi to the Ramses station, where I had about half an hour to entertain myself until the train showed up.
The train was excellent. A first class ticket for 5 euros (for a two hour train journey) and a much, much more comfortable seat than what you get in what passes as first class in Holland these days. I absolutely loved it. I was the only tourist on the train it seemed, and turned out to be quite the attraction. Several people tried to have a conversation with me in Arabenglish, and the amount of ‘welcome to Egypt’ greetings I received reminded me of Syria. (the welcome bit, not the Egypt bit)
Arriving at Sidigaber station in Alexandria I was welcomed by my colleague Mohammed.
He had even gone through the trouble of checking out some local hotels for me, finally settling for the Mecca hotel. One of the best things about Alexandria is that almost the entire city sprawls out at the seaside (the city is 32 kilometres long, but only 3 kilometres wide) so a seafront hotel was a must.
The Mecca hotel cleverly caters for that by having *all* rooms front the Mediterranean.
Mohammed took me for some very local dinner at restaurant Dahab, in the sporting area, where we had sogoa’. Sogoa’ are a type of filled pancake/pizze style pastries, filled with meat and vegetables. It’s a bit like a calzone pizza, a very hearty and filling meal. Mohamed also ordered me a dessert sogoa’ filled with honey, raisins, nuts and cream, which was so big I couldn’t finish it (and I am a big eater).
Next we went for a sheesha. Apparently Alexandria is considered the city with the best sheesha in Egypt, and Mohammed demonstrated this by taking me to a place called Carlos Bar, where they not only have several sheesha flavours, but also different grades of tobacco. The best of the lot is the brand "Al Fakher", and my English pronounciation of this caused a lot of laughter, becoming a running joke amongst my colleagues for the rest of the week.