Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cruise Port Review: Alexandria, Egypt

Our tour of Alexandria, with Egypt and Beyond Travel, was another whirlwind, made even longer by our Egyptologist adding in a few thing not on our list but that she thought would interest us.

The drive to Alexandria from Cairo took about 3 1/2 hours, including a stop at a rest area, where our group of shoppers managed to actually find time to shop and buy! The drive itself was not very interesting and it gave most of us a chance to relax, what with our late finish to the previous night (10 p.m.) and our early start this morning (breakfast at 6:15 a.m.).

The difference between Alexandria and Cairo is like day and night. Alexandria is a newer city and a lot cleaner. It hugs the waterfront which makes for some beautiful views. It has many wide boulevards although it does have its share of

small streets as we discovered when our bus made its way downtown through the main shopping area. It was a very crowded shopping day and I think if we had an extra day, our shoppers would have been off the bus in a heartbeat, wandering through the downtown stores.

Most of the sightseeing in Alexandria that we did was strictly from the outside. We stopped at Pompeii's Pillar, The Montazah Palace and Gardens, Pharoah's Lighthouse and the Abo El Abbas Mosque (where we could not go inside).

And it is obvious Alexandria is still a working fishing port.

Having more time today, we stopped for a relaxing and excellent lunch, with our final stop being the library. I have to admit this stop turned out to be a bit disappointing. We had to wait for a tour in English, and then were escorted into the main library. We were in a glassed off area overlooking the main floor and not a good place for photos. To step to an area for good photos meant not hearing the guide.

After an explanation on the history and parts of the library, she then took the group over to a computer with Internet access to show how the library could be accessed through a home computer. This was going on and on and we really didn't come there to learn how to access the library through a computer....we wanted to see more of the physical library.

Actually, I would have loved to be able to just wander around the lower floor. But we couldn't. And the group voted to leave. I have to admit I was disappointed. I would have loved to have more time in the library. But it would have required much more time than our tour had allotted.

To the ship where we had a choice of being dropped off at the pier entrance, for shopping, or being taken directly to the ship. The group split up here, with most staying to shop. We discovered that Princess was running a free shuttle from the ship to downtown to the port shopping area. We didn't know this because we had not been on board the previous night. So some of us wandered the shops, some of us sat and watched (DHs) and we then caught the shuttle back to the ship, ready to recuperate on our upcoming two days at sea.

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