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Sunday, April 09, 2006

TRAVELBLOG: ALEXANDRIA- The Mediterranean Bug Hits the Bag Hag

Guess what, I had to continue blogging-- I didn't wanna end up with tons of photos that will remain unused or backlogged from this time til the day I get back *hehe that would be horrible*

The early morning 2.5 hour ride brought us to the city of Alexandria (the "Greek" conquered Egyptian fishing village named after Alexander the Great).

This Mediterranean town is beautiful. At first, I thought it wasn't going to be much. We went to see the Catacombs and I was slightly disappointed (and still sleepy) until I saw this on one of the ceilings.
The Medusa!! Hehee I thought: "ALEXANDRIA LOVES VERSACE even before our time :D" (I juuuust had to slip that in. I guess this is what people call designer withdrawal hehe *at least I was not yet shaking!! Gosh I am so uncouth not to even learn how to appreciate history until something relates to a designer!!*).

Anyway, the next stop was definitely a stark contrast to the "poorer" side of Alexandria. But nevertheless, I loved the "European" feel to the area outside the Catacombs. A short 8- 10 minute ride brought us to this uber- modern edifice with amazing architecture
(remember we just came from the "dirtier" side of town before seeing this)

The architecture of this HUGE library is truly impressive. Details, details!! Look all that space, look at the ceiling!! Look, look, look!! My jaw dropped the moment we came into this building.
It was really a sharp contrast to the older part of town. This library houses Egypt's rarest books, impressions of the old Alexandria, and of course, all these internet terminals. High speed.
Puts our own library system to shame. Really.

Post library, we headed out toward the Mediterranean coast of Alexandria, where we passed by a local aquarium which housed a baby Nile crocodile
(The very same croc species used for my Hermes Kelly *bawl poor baby!*). A few photos around the area here and there later

(the view is spectacular), we headed back toward the city center to have our lunch. We passed by this Victor Emmanuel lookalike monument (the real thing is found in Rome) which resembles a wedding cake!!

So I called it the Alexandria Wedding Cake which prompted endless laughter from our tour director and our chauffeur (ok, I think they just insulted me hehe-- i.e. I was juvenile and stupid for comparing the monument to a wedding cake? hehehe I wouldn't know, I don't understand Arabic :D ). The drive was beautiful, as we passed some beachfront- type properties that resembled a less glamorous South Beach
(but hey, these buildings are still beautiful in my eyes).

Lunch was yummy, at this posh restaurant (ok it was rather gaudy, fine. Ambiance was one thing, but food??? 4 stars!!)
Despite the restaurant looking like a cross between posh and gaudy,I felt so underdressed (albeit comfy) with my brown-and-orange Havaianas (woohoo DOP thank you for introducing me to these slip-on wonders :D ) After lunch, we walked around the area a bit, and saw some sweet shops like this one,
which sold local delicacies (some nougat, and lotsa nutty treats) to prepare for tomorrow's celebration. The Prophet Mohammed's birthday! I wish I bought some,
but at that time I couldn't even be bothered to buy, let alone taste the sweets since I couldn't even breath anymore (glutton!!). We had grilled fish (Alex ndria's specialty since it's a fishing town) with rice. It was SO GOOD!! Smoked or grilled fish, by the way is a staple here in this town. Reminded me of our country's own "tuyo" or "smoked bangus" :)

We then drove all the way to the opposite end of the Mediterranean coast, passing by this bridge
(where directly underneath, are apartelles for rent-- with private beach of course!!). Also along the coast, is this massive structure of a hotel (San Stefano hotel) which is still under construction.
Talk about exclusive. This hotel will have an underground tunnel that leads out to the hotel's own PRIVATE BEACH!!!! *makes me wish I OWN the place haha yeah yeah dream on, biatch*

We finally arrrive at our final destination for Alexandria-- the palace of the last King of Egypt! King Farouk used to live in this palace in grand style
(he was the last king-- his son is now living quietly and in exile in Switzerland and is no longer allowed entry into the country). The further beauty of this palace is that it is located at an elevation, and the view-- ahh.. the view... The MEDITERRANEAN!!!! This King even had a private bridge "walkway"
built for him, should he decide he wanted to set sail off to some other island (i.e. Greece). Talk about *woohoo* excess!!! This is another photo from the other side of the water's edge. Spectacular.

The view is really spectacular. Alexandria was a last minute decision for us. And we were glad we chose to come all the way here. By about 5pm, we were on our way back to Cairo. It took another 2.5 hours to go back. We got into the city around 8pm. We went for dinner at the food court of the hotel where I had lamb curry (so yummy!!!). Shortly after dinner, we walked around the connecting mall (called Galleria), and geez I found myself buying a pair of Chanel Lunettes (like I need ANOTHER pair!) at this posh eyewear store which also carried Dior, D&G, Gucci, Ferragamo. Sigh. So much for retail rehab. (If I had made a bet with someone, I would've lost. Fair and square. Shame on me!)

Oh oh and before I sign off, I also want to share this with you-- those of you who knew I was headed off to Egypt would have remembered me saying that the only bag I was gonna end up with was a Camel bag.
Well, did it ring true or what? :D
I actually bought this bag for my brother's kiddo :)

Good nite for now! Tomorrow we head off to explore the city of Cairo-- the two sides of the city (Moslem side and Christian side), as well as the famous Khan el Khalili Bazaar. Maybe I can score a good find tomorrow. Who knows!! :)

Anyway tomorrow also happens to be our last night in Cairo, so I don't know if I can get internet access when we settle in Luxor. But just keep watching this space :)

Apologies for the crappy photos. Made me wish I took photography first before coming to this beautiful country!!