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ALEXANDRIA - CURFEW IS AN ISSUE

sunny 35 °C

When we were choosing places to visit after Israel Simon wanted Istanbul in Turkey for the history and beautiful buildings, and I chose Alexandria in Egypt for the memories of our last time there when we met. When we flew into Egypt we knew there was a curfew in place after all the government problems they have been having, but we had bought the tickets months earlier and thought we would make the best of it.
The curfew in place is from 11pm until 6am Saturday to Thursday, and Friday from 7pm. Our plane arrived at 10:30pm on Wednesday, and at a security checkpoint our backpacks were checked - first country that ever happened in, and so when we were finally finished we left the airport after the start of the curfew.

Alexandria soldiers

Alexandria soldiers

Thank God we had arranged for a taxi several days earlier, but the trip that should have been 45 minutes, took 2 and a half hours to reach the house of our couchsurfer. In Egypt when the curfew starts many streets, including the main roads, are blocked by the army with checkpoints. In some of these security stops it is possible to pass after showing our passports and the car is checked, but at a number of them the road is completely closed until the next morning. Our amazing driver had to turn around from a large number of streets looking for a way around these blocked roads. It was a long day and made longer with trip from the airport to our new friends home. It was really scary how close we came to sleeping in the car with the taxi driver that night.

We stayed in Alexandria for two nights, and enjoyed a beautiful stopover beside the sea. Most of the time we were at the touristy places where the city was very peaceful and calm, and we were sure to return home before 11pm. During this time few tourists are choosing Egypt as a holiday destination due to the politic problems, so we did not see more than five foreigners, and it has affected the local economy a great deal.

The library of Alexandria is an impressive place, set in an enormous building, and the architecture is stunning. We also visited an underground cemetery area with many tombs where the rich people were buried. We really enjoyed the company of our good friend Ibrahim, who is the young guy who hosted us. He is an amazing cook and prepared the best tea in the world. He taught me some of his secrets in the kitchen, ha ha ha.

Alexandria Library

Alexandria Library

Alexandria Library

Alexandria Library

Alexandria Underground Cementery

Alexandria Underground Cementery

Alexandria Underground Cementery

Alexandria Underground Cementery

Ibrahim talked to us about how people are tired of the political problems. Many of them do not pay attention to what has happened after the Arabic Spring because it doesn’t affect them. Some of them were happy with the changes, but some of them were not prepared for the new things that occurred, and for many the routine of their life is now very different compared to some years ago. They cannot go out anymore at night and the traffic has been worse -everybody rushing to get home after work. He was telling us how many times he had to walk long distances because there is not transport or the roads are closed.

Our great friend from Alexandria

Our great friend from Alexandria

For us, Egypt was a special destination and has a place in our hearts. A break by the sea was necessary after our exhausting week in Israel. Simon got a new look, a really big change. He shaved his head and now he looks even thinner than normal, but he is happy with his new look, because it is so ‘low maintenance’.

For me being in Egypt again brought back many memories of how foreign women are treated here. I had forgotten this until the moment we started walking around. The men are not used to seeing ladies in ‘normal’ clothes as most of the ladies cover their bodies completely with the black robes. This meant during our walks there were a number of uncomfortable moments for me. At one point I decided not to go for a swim in the sea as it was so obvious how many people were looking at us, ha ha ha.

The only other serious situation for to experience during these days was coming back to our house at the end of one long day. The driver of the van nearly got in a fight with other young people during a traffic jam; we did not understand the reason for this and we were sitting in the back seat of the van where I could not get out and ran away as I desperately wanted to do. So, we had to witness all of this, Simon wasn’t concerned at all and was happy to see it, but I hate to see any situation with violence. Afterwards Simon said the stress of the country’s situation was starting to show from the locals and this was probably becoming quite common.

Even with a couple of problems we still love this place and had a nice relaxing time here. To go to the airport was another adventure because our plane was at 3am on Saturday morning, and on Friday night the curfew started at 7pm so we decided to be at the airport really early to avoid any delays and the accompanying stress, and it was also a good time to write my blog.

Posted by erika_simon 14:56 Archived in Egypt

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