Wednesday 28 December 2022

I have been to... Alexandria and Cairo

 OK, I say Alexandria. We docked in the heavily guarded container port miles out of town and with no apparent means of getting into town except via an expensive excursion, so I've mainly been to Cairo, but we were certainly in Alex for a couple of days.

Egypt was the first of our quite exciting places to visit, entire bits of the country are off limits to tourists due to either terrorism or civil unrest or both, which is presumably why we docked in a fortress. Having said that, Egypt is very popular tourist destination and afaik the main tourist resorts are pretty safe. Alexandria isn't major tourist destination though.

The western harbour at Alex. I wish we'd docked in in the historic eastern harbour but hey ho.

The beachside developments were pretty spectacular along the coast. Expensive apartments for the Egyptian elite.

The main reason for gong to Alex is to go and see the pyramids. Yay! To get there we went via the desert road rather than the much busier delta road. I've been to the western end of the Sahara in Morocco a couple of times, but never the eastern end, so this was very exciting.

We tore along in a convoy with armed guards, which was also quite exciting. I guess it is bad publicity if tourist buses get blown up or hijacked. Not much opportunity for photo stops, just blurry pictures out of the window.

I was just very excited to be in the western desert. After a fairly long drive (some hours) we rocked up in Cairo.

First stop was the archaeological museum which was packed with great stuff.

These two were the entrance to the Royal Mummies exhibit, sadly no photos allowed down there. 

Although it doesn't look it in the photos, the museum was absolutely rammed.

I'll just comment on a few of the pictures, you can probably figure out what most of them are.

This chair is from the tomb of Queen Hetepheres, and is over four and a half thousand years old(!)

This is a view inside a burial box, a sort of wooden room richly decorated on the outside and with the sarcophagus and burial goods inside.

Another really cool Sphinx.

The remains of an Egyptian chariot, the relief on the chariot body shows it in action.

I was very taken with this scarab.

Later mosaics.

The Pharos of Alexandria. Shame it isn't still standing.

Original papyrus manuscripts by Zenon.

Byzantine fresco.

A beautiful Torah.

Mohammed Ali Pasha

King Farouk

Off into the mummy exhibition. This was absolutely fabulous and featured lots of famous Pharoahs, including Rameses, Tutmoses etc. The mummies were all well preserved in glass cases, and it was rather more awe inspiring than I expected. 

When we got out the the mummy section the museum was quieter, so we went round a bit more. I love this statue with its 'princely lock', just like Yul Brynner in 'The Ten Commandments'.

After that it was a brief trip down the Nile.

This was a nice Felucca, albeit another tourist boat.

I was extremely surprised to find Pelicans by the river. I didn't realise they lived in the Mediterranean.

Off to the main event, the pyramids at Giza.

The shadows of all the tourists show that they aren't quite as isolated as they look.

Tourist camel rides. Compared to camels I've met before, these ones seemed quite calm and even tempered.

The Western Desert in all its glory. I pleased to capture the small caravan on the horizon. Due to recent rain, the air was very clear and we could see another cluster of pyramids up the Nile about 25km away, rising up from the desert dust. Too far to photograph.

Somehow the perspective on this makes the Great Pyramid look tiny, but it is huge, and the biggest of the cluster here.

A different angle showing how close to the city they are.

Cairo spreads over the horizon.

The Sphinx. It was in an enclosed area and only quite awkward angles were available for photos. The sun is already very low in the sky at this point.

This gives a better idea of how big the pyramids are.

From inside the city they loom over the skyline.

We ended up going to inevitable tourist tat shop. Does anyone buy any of this stuff? I quite liked these two statues.

It was just too much hassle negotiating the security to get out of the port and over to the main part of Alex, there wasn't even a shuttle bus, and I didn't want to go on a massively overpriced tour, so we just spent a morning on the ship. We set sail in the early afternoon and got good views of the western harbour on the way out.

There were various warships docked.

Quite a lot of warships in fact, of varying vintages. 

Including this rather big one.

And another. So the Egyptians have as many carriers as the RN, even if they are a bit smaller.

So, that was a ton of fun and one of the main reasons we went on the cruise in the first place. Where to next?