May 25th, 2009
OK, so I have to reconstruct the last few days here in Alexandria. I had been keeping my diary up to date, but I stuck my flash drive into the computer here to download a couple of maps to print them out at an internet café, but for some reason my complete folder for Mary Magdalene was wiped out by McAffee Virus thingie, which really sucks cause the journal Word file disappeared even from my computer as well. I had MS Word up and running so the Trojan must have jumped into my Active-X on Word or something. This really sucks. Anyway, I got here on:
May 22nd, 2009
I walked to the Cairo train station from the New Palace Hotel and caught the first train out to Alexandria. The trains run hourly, so I didn’t have to wait long. My carriage was full of sailors going to Alexandria, so it was kinda noisy at first till they (and I) all fell asleep. A taxi driver intercepted me on the train station and I let him take me to a hotel, though he kept wanting to take me to a beach house, but I finally got through to him I wanted to get a room for around 50 LE, but he said there were only hotel rooms for 80 or 90. I ended up at the Hotel Capry, but I was quite happy when we turned the corner to the street where the Capry stands as I could see the harbour. The ancient map is imprinted enough in my brain, I recognized the Eastern Harbour right away!
The room was 75 LE and I was so happy with the room I tipped the taxi driver 10 LE. This is what I learned later: The taxi ride should been 10 LE. I coulda got a single room for 40 LE. Technically I’m in a doublr bed room, so the posted rate is 75, but a single bed romm is only 40. Sure wish I’d got a map, but then I didn’t know where I was going to stay…
After I checked in, I walked along the promenade (called Sharia Corniche (Sharia is Arabic for Street/road/path) But I’ll call it Promenade Corniche so you’ll know it’s the beach promenade.) as far as the fortress which is built on the sight of the ancient Pharos Lighthouse (now defunct, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world).
23rd May, 2009
Wandered around trying to find the catacombs. I ended up walking by the boatyards where they build wooden boats of all shapes and sizes, and eventually found an internet café where I could print out Alexandria maps. The Planetware maps weren’t exactly accurate and I got really screwed up in my dircetion, but finally managed to find Ptolemy’s Pillar which is a landmark for the Catacombs. Still I had a hard time finding the catacombs, and, after touring around Ptolemy’s Pillar and the foundations of the Serapis Temple. I got to the Catacombs in time for closing, so I headed back, and got lost again, but I did buy some oranges and grapes. I also found out, much to my dismay, the Graeco-Roman Museum was closed for renovations.
I took a nap when I got back and went for a bite to eat and had a great meal in a little hole in the wall place, The meat and potaotes was excellent, and I took the remains of the chicken back to the hotel with me. I checked out the map again and found out it was my sense of direction that was screwed up, not the map.
23rd May, 2009
I overlaid the ancient map and modern map as well as the cistern map in Photoshop to check the orientation of old places to new. It seems like the Qaitbay mosque is over the top of the Isis Temple (nothing to see) and another mosqur this side of the harbour near the hotel is on the site of the Posiedium. Anyway, after breakfast I headed out for the catacombs. Iot turns out it’s not very far at all, and as the Roman amphitheatre is on the way, I stopped there, and headed for the Catacombs. They were fantastic, only they asked for my camera as no one is allowed to photograph the complex which really sucks. You can see some pictures of it at: The Alexandria Catacombs
24th May, 2009
I had pretty much given up on finding the Nabih Cisterns, as no one had even heard of them. I walked down the promenade to the eastern arm of the harbour but you can’t go on it, as it is a government wharf and access is blocked. I sat in a beach café and stayed long enough for lunch, then went into the new Alexandria Library which is very impressive! The round planetarium type thing is actually a completer sphere sitting in a hole. I found a decent map there, and it had the location of the Nabih Cistern. It wasn’t far, so I walked there, but its under renovations and was closed. I guess I will have to give up on finding any underground passages here. If you want to see what they would have looked like if I had been able to aee them, and assuming they would have let me keep my camera, you can see pictures at:
After wandering about, I came back to the hotel, but no one served me in the resataurant so I went back to the place where I had had the great me and potatoes, but no one knew what I was talking about. The dish I found out, eventually is called Batatas (say it out loud and you will wonder why saying “POTATOES” didn’t sound enough like “BATATAS” to get the order understood right away. I ate that early, so around 10PM I got hungry again and went to a place nearby called Delices, and discxovered it has WIFI Internet. I will go there again tonight/today and see if I can get this journal uploaded and up to date before I leave for Petra.
I paid for a downloadable version of the Petra guide from Lonely Planet, but the connection at the Hotel is so bad, it wouldn’t download. I will try that at Delices first. I ate the Club Sandwhich there, and it was big, if not the best Clubhouse I’ve had. The Cafffe Latte and fruit flan were both incredible, but the coffee was so strong, I ended up staying awake until 5AM. I still got up in time to get breakfast, but was frustrated by the slow connection. I’m in my room now, retyping this journal, and am almost finished, as you can tell from the end of the writing.
A guy cleaned my shoes at a Shisha Bar last night, but they aren’t dry enough yet to see if they look better or not. He charged me 5 LE and I gave him 6. I’m just gonna pop downstairs to get the links for the Cisterns and Catacoms so you can check them out. I am disappointed that the two things I came to see: the Roman Graeco Museum and the Nabih Cistern (or any cistern) were closed, but walking around Alexandria with the aid of overlapping old and modern maps has given me a pretty good idea of the spaces in Ancient Alexandria. This Hotel is actually almost on the same spot (according to the maps) as the Ancient Museum and Library which is pretty cool! There is also supposed to be a cistern (or even more than one) directly beneath me! Maybe I’ll sneak into the basement later…
Still can’t find a luggage strap or bungee cord.