The drive from Cairo to Alexandria was a long one due to traffic and then the road closing due to fog. We made stops along the way to make the time pass more bearably.
Monastery of St. Bishoy, is about an hour outside of Alexandria. It is a place for pilgrimage within Egypt to see the remains of St. Bishoy (340AD- 407 AD).
My group got a great tour from a Monk who lived here and I ended up acing the religious mural quiz he gave as we toured the different buildings on the complex.
We made friends with Egyptians who were visiting the heavily guarded sight. Everyone wanted to say hi and hear where we were from.
The weird part was that we had an armed escort envoy take us to the border of the governorate (state or province). We think they were really bored (it is low season) but Christian churches are not the safest places in Egypt so there is that too. We joked with them at a rest stop, they looked all of 16 years old.
Once we finally made it to Alexandria, dinner was on everyone’s mind. We had the biggest, most delicious seafood feast. Alexandria’s position on the Mediterranean makes it an ideal fishing locale.
We ate loads of shrimp, whole fish, calamari, some vegetables, pita and baba ganoush. It was so delicious but basically we had to roll ourselves out of the restaurant.
Bright and early the next morning, the road to Alexandria was so foggy no one could get into the city. Thank goodness we were already inside city limits because it didn’t lift for hours. We had a bright, clear day to tour the sights all by ourselves. First up, was Pompey’s Pillar.
Pompey was Julius Caesar’s friend and then enemy in the time of Cleopatra (the order for murder was given by Cleopatra’s brother/husband). The pillar was not erected until close to 300AD. At one point there was a huge temple at this location but little remains today.
The city of Alexandria now surrounds the hill of Pompey’s Pillar and the still existing underground chambers. And when you are the only tourists visiting, it makes for a very fun place to see.
When you think of Alexandria, most people think about the Library of Alexandria, which burned to the ground before Christ. The city of Alexandria along with many influential international donors have rebuilt a massive new library for the public near the University of Alexandria.
Free WIFI and online media add to the huge collection of books and art that fill the new Library of Alexandria. The space is very quiet and the design is amazing. And the best part is that everyone is welcome, no entrance fee required.
There is a planetarium and theatre attached as well. An educational complex for the masses.
The Library of Alexandria is across the street from the big promenade where everyone who visits Alexandria walks around. Vendors sell coffee, tea, cotton candy, nuts, and more. It is a place to gather and hang out.
We didn’t swim due to the trash and cold temperatures but there were people wading into the water. I stuck to the sidewalk and people-watching.
Alexandria is filled with ancient history and is a must-see for any Cleopatra or library buff. More from Egypt coming soon!