From Cairo to Alexandria
Alexandria Travel Blog› entry 5 of 5 › view all entries
Today is D Day. The day we are going to visit the Great Pyramids of Giza. I skip breakfast and was down at the lobby by 8 am. Check out, because after the pyramids, we are going to drive to Alexandria and spend the night there. By 9 am, we were all ready and off we go the see the 7th wonders of the ancient world. Traffic was quite heavy and we were in Giza 45 mins later. When I saw the top of the pyramids as we approach Giza, I was excited.
We turn a corner, driving through small roads, with small shops lined along the streets. Hive of activities with cars, taxis (why are all taxis in Cairo dented?), donkey carts and pedestrian. It is very different from the Cairo that I have seen so far, more rural.
The pyramids caught us by surprise, we turn another corner and there it was. The pyramids of Khufu, standing at around 138 meters, it is the 2nd biggest of all the 3 pyramids. When you see countless pictures of the pyramids on magazine etc, the way the pyramids was photographs, it looks like it was on an empty desert miles and miles away from civilization but in reality, it was actually quite close the shops, bazaars and marketplace. We left the car, bought ourselves a ticket, passed the metal detectors, which was manned by an angry looking woman (I am angry too If I have to search through thousands of bags everyday). There are a lot of policemen on camel looking around with guns in hand. Far in the distance, we notice a security officer chasing after a kid on foot. Pick pocket I was told.We drive a short distance away and parked at a parking lot.
I ran towards the pyramids and touch it. I always wanted to do that since I was a kid and finally I did it. Years ago, anyone can actually climb up to the top of the pyramids, as there were quite a number of fatal accidents as a result, it was forbidden. I would climb it if they let me. We did the all the things that tourist do, take photos etc. I was in awe. There are touts everywhere, selling tacky souvenirs, offering camel rides and tours. We refuse politely.
We were back in the car again, and drove to another scenic view of the pyramids which is quite a distance away.
We drove to another spot to see the Sphinx. The entrance is just next to a row of shop houses. You have to buy a ticket, passed through a metal detector to get closer to the sphinx. Among the row of shop houses next to the Sphinx, I notice there was a KFC there. It is sad really. As you stand there, it looks like the KFC restaurant is giving Sphinx the middle finger, “Fuck you sphinx”, it seems like saying.
We depart for Alexandria using the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Highway cutting through the desert and arrive at Lagoon Resort Hotel & Spa (our accommodation for the night). We check in and a few min later, we were out again to explore the city. The first thing we do is to go to the Alexandria Library (Bibliotheca Alexandria). It is a huge complex, the biggest library in the world. Officially open in 2003 (I think) on the site of the old library which was destroyed in a fire ages ago. When it was destroyed, all those precious manuscript that has been collected diligently from all over the world were gone. According to historian, the technology know-how that has been lost as a result is devastating. If it did not, all the information contained in it, human kind can built a jet that flies around the world in 30 mins. The burning of the old library remains a mystery. Some blame it on Julius Ceaser (who burned it in 48 BC), others on Caliph Omar(who burnt it in 640 AD) and others on people who are jealous of the Head of the Librarian, Hypatia, who crime is by being a woman.
I love library, I could spent hours and days in one. The library of Alexandria just took my breath away. We visited the antiquities museum, located inside the library with an entrance fee of EGP 20. During the excavation to build the new library many precious artifacts were unearthed. All those collections are displayed at the Antiquities museum. Later, also located in the library is the manuscript museum.
We took a drive through Montazah Garden, it was almost 4 pm and the gardens are full of happy local with their kids walking along the shrubs and trees. We arrive at the El Salamlek Palace Hotel, the former summer house of the last King of Egypt, King Farouk. It was built in 1892 and one of the most beautiful building I have ever seen. I went inside the lobby (I can’t afford to stay there). The lobby was simple but elegant. We proceed inside Al Farouk Restaurant for lunch. The restaurant used to be King’s Farouk office before it was turn into a restaurant. I am pretty sure that the restaurant was closed hours ago but by the grace (order) of the General, they serve lunch just for us. I had asparagus soup and for the main course, the sirloin steak with mushroom sauce. When the food arrived, the portion was huge. I feel like “mooing” like a cow at the end of the meal.
We adjourned to the Montazah Bay looking towards the Mediterranean seas. It was summer, the sea was blue. The weather was calm and the beach was full of locals. The beach was jam packed, u can’t even see sand. A small light house can be seen clearly from where I am. If the Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria is still holding strong, the view would be even greater I bet.
We drove along the Alexandria Coastline and headed back to the hotel. We wanted to see the ruins of the Romans but there was no time.
We arrived back at the hotel. The Lagoon Hotel reminds me of a hotel back home in Kuala Lumpur, The Sunway Resort and Spa, even the logo looks the same. The resort was huge (almost everything else in Egypt I assume). The hotel itself is small but the club house is big with its lake, amusement park etc. There is a wedding going on at the hotel and we were invited. The dining area, in the shape of a Bedouin tent (it comes with shisha and campfire), were built on the roof of the hotel. The food was not what I used too, fried bird, so I ate little that night. The wedding ceremony was great, we truly enjoy it.
We retire late at night and early morning, we have to drive back to Cairo.