We are currently leaving Alexandria on a train. It is supposedly a five star train. The inside is not too bad but just wait until you see the photos of the outside. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, every day we have an armed guard, complete with several guns. He watches our every move when we are out and about. I don’t think he misses a thing. He is now on the train with us.
Our first stop was to the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa. The catacombs were once believed to be a tomb for a single wealthy family that later became a public cemetery. The magnitude and depth of the catacombs were considered especially remarkable when considering they were built in the 1st century A.D. long before the advent of modern excavating equipment. They were also unusual in that while Egyptian-themed, they were designed with considerable Roman and Greek influences. Before the Greeks met the Egyptians they did not believe in an afterlife. When Alexandra the Great came to Alexandria and learned about mummification and the after life, he decided it was a great idea. The Egyptians don’t say “Life to death,” but say “Life to life.”
Next we visited a Roman Odeum Theater, and I thought I was back in Rome, only on a much smaller scale. Those Romans went everywhere. This theater was built in the 2nd Century and like all other finds, was discovered by accident. This theater was found when they were excavating for a new modern building and the catacombs were found when a donkey fell in a hole. The acoustics inside the theater were quite remarkable and we all tried our hand at a quick song. Of course, obnoxious Linda had to sing three complete songs ending with “Twinkle.” So we all just went on.
We then ate lunch at a local tourist’s restaurant. They put huge salad bowls on the table and it looked so good, but “no” eating of salads. We did have fresh baked pita bread with all sorts of different spreads. Baba Ganoush is my new bread spread of choice and I want to learn how to make it. It is cooked egg plant with a sauce. Delicious!
We went to a store and saw a quick demonstration on making papyrus paper. It was interesting and she gave us some clues on how to tell the real thing from all of the phony stuff the vendors have been shoving in our faces. Tom and I bought a piece with an aunk, the ancient Egyptian symbol for life with our names written in hieroglyphics.
Last night our hotel had a balcony that over looked the main road and the Mediterranean Sea. Tom and I sat outside for over an hour watching the amazing spectacle. In Egypt you can turn your lights on or not, there are no stop lights because no one would observe them, and the marked lanes mean nothing either. There were three marked lanes but sometimes as many as five cars wide on the streets. People just walk across the traffic with seemingly little worry. I would sit there and try to judge when a person might cross. I never judged it correctly. The person would walk, exact same pace. It was like something I have never seen before. We saw three wedding cars covered with a huge ribbon on the car from front to back. A car followed behind with a man leaning way out with a video camera and another car in front shooting fireworks. I guess it is good the Muslims don’t drink, I can’t imagine the sight if there were drunk drivers involved as well. Ahmed joked that each driver can hit three pedestrians before anyone gets upset at you. He then added that 8,000 pedestrians a year are killed by cars. There is no insurance claims either. Last night and today, even with all of the congestion, we did not see one accident. I, personally, would not last a minute out there.
We are now on our way to an Egyptian’s family home. After lunch we all chipped in and bought them a pastry platter. Supposedly we can eat everything tonight. I hope that is correct.