My second trip to Egypt was towards the end of summer in 2012. The weather was magnificent, warm with a cooling breeze and the sunsets were breath taking. This trip was very special to me, I was getting married to my husband that I had met during my first trip to Cairo. Although, the time was magical for me, it was a transitional time for Egyptians. Egyptians for the first time in centuries were able to cast a vote. Mohamed Morsi was chosen by the people to be the new president and there were a lot of celebrations and hope in the streets. This was also the time, when a movie bashing the beloved Prophet Mohamed was launched and protests had spread in the center of popular cities
There was sense of pride and nationalism in the country, after all, Egyptians should had felt proud of their determination and accomplishments. But there was also a sense of unpredictability, it felt as if anything could happen at any time. Although Egyptians were voting for a new constitution, the rules and regulations have not been established making the daily lives chaotic and disoriented.
Most tourist during this critical era had vanished and were advised to stay away. But for me, this was one of the most thrilling time to be Egypt. You can almost touch the new atmosphere filled with excitement for the future. The people were being loud, expressive and most importantly for the first time empowered of their own lives.
The end of summer is the best time to travel to Egypt. As the days are getting colder, the people love to gather outside with their families and friends and enjoy feasting. One of the popular things to do in Cairo, is to sit at the bank of the river and enjoy a refreshment or even a hot drink. Boats fill the river with bright colorful lights while playing loud and festive music.
My ultimate favorite place to visit in Cairo, is the Al Hussein Market, this where the old and ancient Cairo is situated. There you will find old raggedy buildings that people most definitely still live in. The old and dusty buildings bring a charm to the thousands of markets that sell ancient Egyptian souvenirs. Today the old and charming market is filled with margin tables trying to sell Chinese goods to the Egyptians since the tourism is decreasing significantly since the Arab Spring.
After our small tiny religious wedding ceremony, we drove to Alexandria which is only about 4 hours away from Cairo.
Alexandria is a different scene from Cairo. Even though we stayed at a remote villa in the Mediterranean sea, I was able to venture the city of Alexandria a couple of times. Unfortunately, I forgot the charger for my camera and was only able to take photos of the day we arrived to the villa, everything after that is just memories.
This man came to us to sell his fish in the middle of the road when we had stopped at a check point This reminded me of my home country, Cape Verde, where fisherman or women sell their fish in the market and in the streets. You can immediately tell the Mediterranean culture right when you enter Alexandria. The city of Alexandria is structured with Greek and old European style structures. You still have the trolley highway paths along the roads and it is not hard to envision how the older times must of been like back when the Greeks were a prominent population.
The people gather around the banks of the sea and enjoy the food and refreshments being sold in the streets. Unfortunately I was not able to visit the famous Library of Alexandria, it was known to be the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world.”With collections of works, lecture halls, meeting rooms, and gardens, the library was part of a larger research institution called the Musaeum of Alexandria, where many of the most famous thinkers of the ancient world studied” (Wikipedia) How incredible would that have been if I was able to visit the library.
However, I did see randomly a Brazilian Coffee shop which I immediately had to go inside and check out the types of drinks and pastries the shop offered. I must say I was disappointed, there was nothing about the coffee shop that represented Brazil. Besides the fact that they offered drinks with artificial tastes of Brazilian fruits. But to be fair, I was being highly critical since I do know a little bit of Brazilian culture. Not surprising the coffee shop was filled with people that do not know any better, I would assume, or that were as curious as I was. We also dined at a Yemen restaurant and the food was pretty delicious and simple. Since I love fish I was very happy to know that most Alexandria restaurants offer a variety of different ways to cook fish.
I strongly recommend a get away trip to Alexandria, it’s right by the coast of the Mediterranean sea and by the pictures you see above, the waters are expediently beautiful. I do have to admit, however, that people in Alexandria are more aggressive than in Cairo. Cairo residents are in order words friendlier but it was just part of my observation because I was with my husband who is Egyptian, I was not treated differently for being a tourist. Maybe it’s a Cairo vs Alexandria thing as they are able to tell the difference by the accent.
My friends and family were very worried about me during my travels but I must say that even during the roughest times in Egypt, I never felt unsafe. There is instability, unpredictability, corruption and never the less a lot of issues withing the socio-political sphere but the soul of the people in Egypt are good and for that I never felt threaten and scared for being a traveler in the country.