A walk in Alexandria as first steps in Egypt

Egypt was another one of our destinations for which I had very little expectations. Alexandria filled a rather airy and lonely  spot in my knowledge bank. Beyond the pyramids and ancient sites, we dont get to hear about what is life like for its people today.

It is cold, which should not be surprising since its winter, but I was. My toes stiffened confused in their flip flops, as we jingled our way to the hotel in the rickety Lada of the sales manager. It was midnight and Alex, as it is affectionately called here,  was asleep and barely lit.

The next day we dug deep in our bags and pulled the cold clothes that have been sitting patiently there since our stint in the Himalayas. Then all rugged up we set off to figure out where in the world have we made it to.

After the mellow stiffness of the Arab Peninsula, the muddy from the rain streets felt like a breath of fresh air. I dislike wet feet just as much as the next person, but seeing the tea makers rugged up in small corners everywhere, old chairs facing the street and providing rest for the shisha smokers, laundry flapping in the gusty wind and life buzzing around me, I couldnt help but grin, as though I have just melted into my favorite chair.

We walked down the corniche and breathed in the Mediterranean.

Rain started to sprinkle again and we hid in one of the back streets.

 

The smell of freshly baked bread pulled us into the direction of a bakery, where before we knew it we were given tastings of various cookes, sweets and breads. The big man working the brick oven spread his arms wider then his smile and ushered us in to peak into the fire where the next batch of small skinny breads were sending delightful scents throughout the air.

 

We just had to wait.

Before we knew it, broken chairs were pulled around the place for us as though we were long lost relatives paying a visit.

 

Full of warm breads and sweets we pulled ourselves from our unintended stop and continued down the streets of the city, where the temperamental weather still could not decide whether it wanted sun or dark clouds or both with some rain in between.

 

Not long after we got back on the waterfront we stumbled upon a little restaurant, where one thing led to another and we found ourselves amidst the busy kitchen and another group of big grinned men. With all the patience in the world they explained what everything was, chairs were pulled to help the girls to see the action and we watched the swift work of the cook – flipping, stretching and baking fteer.

We had to have one, it looked so good.

Mr.Blab noticed another dish being piled through the window and suddenly hunger was inconsequential, because we were stuffing ourselves full despite of it.

Total for our paratha-like  pizza and koshari: less than $3
Yummy? You bet.

 

 

One laughable fish museum later, which served better as an escape from the rain than as a cultural spot,  we reached our final destination – the more than 500 year old Citadel of Qaitbay.

 

Yes, it was that windy:

The weather was miserable.

The streets were a big wet amalgamation of garbage and dirt. The beautiful old buildings stood around like ghosts of another time,  slowly losing the battle with time and people. Caked on dirt decorated the rusty cars splatting in the puddles dotting the badly maintained streets.

But the people and the food shone brighter than any of it, just like the double rainbow that spread across the horizon and the spitting Mediterranean.

“Welcome to Egypt” is the phrase heard more often around us, but nobody needs to say it, because we can feel it in every face and smile around us.

Thank you, Alexandria.