Saturday, March 21, 2009

Egypt 2008: Day trip to Alexandria

October 12th.

On our first full day in Egypt we had scheduled a day trip to Alexandria. This ancient city lies on the coast of the Mediterranean, about a four hour drive from Cairo. The highway there is in great condition (although with no streetlights! o_O) so it's a pretty easy drive. Can be hot, though. You are in fact driving through the desert. :-) Bring water.

Our wakeup call was at 6am and we met Hatem in the lobby at 7. All six of us were going. We all piled into our minibus and set off. The driver was the same old guy as the day before. A good driver as far as I can tell about these things. He spent a hell of a lot of time on his cell phone (while driving, yeah) - CH and I discussed the matter and decided that he was talking to various of his driver friends in order to get info about police control points along the route, so that he'd easily be able to avoid any kind of penalty for his speeding. And hey, it worked like a charm. When he wasn't talking on the phone, he ate pistachio nuts from a huge bag of them that he shared with Hatem. It took us a while to figure out what that popping sound was that was coming from the front seat all the time ...

I of course had to take pictures along the route, although there wasn't that much to take pictures of. There was one thing, but alas, I wasted my opportunities there. We kept seeing weird structures in the distance that we couldn't figure out, so after some debate amongs the group we asked Hatem, and he explained that they were dovecotes. (Doves are a popular dish in Egypt and many people breed them for sale.) Huge ones, obviously. I became obsessed with taking a good picture of these things, but unfortunately I got the laughing bug and every time I saw one, I couldn't stop laughing ... so my pictures of them came out looking like shit, in the few cases where I even got off a shot. CH was not helpful in curbing my mirth. Alas. And of course, when we drove back along the same route hours later, it was pitch dark. Sob!!

Anyway. Here are various pictures of scenery, with explanations, from the road to Alexandria. :-)

Still in Cairo. Various apartment buildings etc seen from the highway. Check out the blue and white building. :-D

Oh, the view ... !! :-o

A very cool soft drink ad that we spotted on the side of a building, and that I was quick enough to get a picture of. I generally don't like billboards, but this one was cool. :-)

There was quite a lot of vegetation just alongside the road. But the sand began pretty close to the highway. This picture was taken on the outskirts of Cairo.

We passed an area with lots of construction going on; Hatem told us that a town was under construction there, and had been for years - 6th of October City. Apparently. o_O Many sections were already finished, but there still clearly remained a lot to be done. The town is a project the government started to help ease the constant problem of overcrowding in Cairo. It didn't seem to be for everyone, though ... I suspect that the ones who suffer the most from the overcrowding will never set foot in the place. :-( It seemed rather artificial and reminded me of the descriptions of the Stockholm suburb Blackeberg in John Aijvide Lindqvist's novel Let the right one in.

God vs Mammon ... :-D

See my precious dovecotes ... !! They're those weird pointy things in the center of the shot.

We stopped at a place along the way called El Sonny Star. :-D It's about halfway between the two cities, so it's a good place to stop. Plus our driver probably knew the people running it, nudge nudge, know what I mean. They had cold water and chocolate, though, so we were good. :-)

Aww, look ... !! It almost made it feel a little bit like home.

As we approached the outskirts of Alexandria I managed to get a better dovecote picture. They're along the roadside, to the left ... mostly hidden by some bushes. Alas. :-(

Oh, the dovecotes of Egypt ... !! Shall I ever see you again, etc.

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