Our second day in Egypt was spent in Alexandria. We visited the Tigran Tomb and Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, the Roman Amphitheater, El-Salamlek Palace, Library of Alexandria, and drove along the sea past the Stanley Bridge.
Let’s start with our first stop-the Tigran Tomb and Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa. The Tigran tomb is the largest on the grounds and is above ground, unlike the rest of the smaller tombs. A mixture of Roman and Egyptian work, they are believed to originally date back to the time of the pharaohs. It was the first catacomb system I have been in-and definitely the smallest-but it was really interesting. The biggest surprise for me was how well-preserved the paintings were on the walls. Being dark in the caves, the paintings have retained much of their original colors.
The amphitheater in Kom el Dekka was next.
The Alexandria Lighthouse, built around 270BC was not much to look at. After being destroyed by an earthquake, we can only imagine what it must have looked like when it was new based on written accounts. Being one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, it is estimated to have been around 400ft tall.
My favorite site in Alexandria, and highly recommended, is the Library of Alexandria. The exterior is a work of art, with various languages represented in the carvings across the stone face. This represents the finding of the Rosetta Stone in Egypt. The library was built in 2002 next to site of the ancient Library of Alexandria.
Inside the library is an impressive collection of printing presses that add to the numerous impressive exhibits throughout the multi-level building.
El-Salamlek Palace was beautiful. Paintings, opulent ceilings, and ornate furniture decorated the interior. Our meal at the restaurant was lovely.
Here is the Stanley Bridge:
The sunsets in Egypt are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
When we returned to Cairo, it was around 11pm and we were famished. We knew we would be getting up for a 4am flight to Aswan, but we wanted to do something without our guide. Us and about half of our tour group decided to go in search of the Hard Rock Café Cairo. The hotel staff helped us call a cab, and the 10 of us set off in a single station wagon taxi toward downtown. Thus began the scariest ride of my life. Picture 10 Americans crammed into a taxi with an Egyptian driver taking us into downtown Cairo in the middle of the night. He cranked up the music, and to save battery life, turned off the headlights. As in Turkey, honking was the main signal used to ensure other cars could see ours. We jounced along, lacking functioning seatbelts, in the darkness with an occasional flashing of the lights, singing and laughing. Our “American” hamburgers at the restaurant were exactly what we had been craving. A good ole’ American meal after over a year and a half of being overseas. We all got up on stage and sang and danced for a couple hours before taking the terrifying ride back. Pulling up at a dimly lit building instead of our hotel, we all were all nervous. Thankfully, we were able to get things sorted out and get back on the dark, loud road to our rooms, where we proceeded to get about 2 hours of sleep.