We did start early this morning at 6 am. I got a shower and was able to get my head straight. I did forget my hat for today's travel. We went down a little early and Mohammed and Mohammed the driver were there. We waited for Sassa who just had to come by to make sure all was well. It is part of his job and even though we had assured him he did not have to do this, he was there. We were accompanied all day by a police officer (undercover in a dark blue pinstripe suit) and Uzi under the suit. He was to accompany us all day to Alexandria. It did make you feel safe. This is normal protocol for Americans traveling any distance in the country.
We got a good start and made good time. We first talked about his needs in a website and how to set this up. I can have him use FTP to upload files, but I am not sure what to use for him to edit the pages. I will have to talk to Scott about movable type or some other software and it has to be easy and the price needs to be free or just a small amount. I will check on web domains for him. I also need to find an easy name that can be found on the search engines. Egyptian Guide would be my first choice.
We then had some history about Phillip of Macedonia and Alexander the Great. Alexander designed the city of Alexandria to be the capital of his empire. He did not see the completion of his city. He died in his early thirties. I took a little nap as we continued to Alexandria. Mohammed was born two blocks from the Mediterranean and he showed me the building as we came into the city. Our first stop was the Grecko-Roman museum. We arrived before the 9:00 am opening and so got a little nap. We learned about the Greeks and how they came to Egypt and modified some of the Egyptian practices. We looked at Grecko-Roman mummies and saw how they made facial masks and used a diamond pattern in wrapping the mummy. We saw a temple that was moved from the Oasis and the mummified crocodile that was in the temple.
The museum had many coins and statues that were Egyptian but done by the Greeks. The style was different. Some statues had cartouches on them, but it was obvious that they were not correct. There were many statues from the Greek and Roman period, but they are not labeled and there is no way to positively identify them. The Greeks merged the Egyptian Gods with the Greek Gods and created a style that was a blend of both. This same blend was carried on in the art and statues and when the Romans came, they just kept using the same style.
Our next stop was the catacombs. These are the only catacombs in Egypt. They were found when a donkey fell in a pit. It went down three flights. The first level is now full of ground water. The second floor still has water and pumps run to keep the water from filling the tombs. This was very interesting looking at the tombs especially the original family's crypt. This crypt had art work from painted frescos to statues. The Greeks would come and spend time with the dead. They would eat meals in the catacombs and then throw away their dishes. These pottery shards are a big clue to where a tomb may be located. There was also an above ground tomb and we went to it as well. Mohammed got permission for me to take photos above ground, but I could not shoot the tombs.
Our next stop was Pompey's Pillar. It is not a pillar and did not belong to Pompey. It is a large column cut from a single piece of granite and floated up from Aswan. It was done for a later Roman Emperor about 200 years later. It has a couple of small sphinx around it. It also had a library (similar to the tombs). I got to go down in this space being led by a tourism police officer. I also got my picture made in the tomb and YES paid an Le2 tip. I finished walking around the pillar. I then finished with the photos and met back up with Mohammed and Kim.
Our next stop was a bank. We went to the hotel in Alexandria where Churchill and Montgomery met and stayed during their meeting in Alexandria during WWII. Dad would like to have seen this. If we had stayed overnight in Alexandria, we could have gone to El Alamaen and also dove in the Mediterranean 3 to 5 feet to see what relics that are still covered under the sea. The other item would be to see the Alexandria Library which is built on the site of the library (the grandest in the world) that was burned in the time of Caesar. It would have been interesting to do all of these items, but with only a day trip you do make trade-offs.
One of the funny story from the day involved our police escort. He was a large man for an Egyptian (tall and broad). He spoke just a little English. He had trouble most of the day keeping his suit coat covering his uzi. He finally joked to Kim and I that he was Sylvester Stallone. He immediately corrected himself and said no, Arnold Schwarzenegger. A joke that was extremely funny to both of us and to him as well. This also goes to show the welcome and hospitality of the Egyptians that we met on our trip.
Once I now had money, we could go to lunch. We were in search of a KFC. I gave Mohammed money for him and the police officer to have lunch. Mohammed, Kim and I went to the KFC. We had a good lunch (cost Le51) for all three of us. I then treated Mohammed to ice cream at the Baskin and Robbins next door for Le11. He really did seem to enjoy the ice cream. We then met our van for pickup. Our next stop was the site of the Alexandria Lighthouse which was one of the 7 wonders of the world. One other item on this list was also in Egypt - the great pyramid of Kofu. I walked along the Mediterranean. I also shot some photos in the fortress that now stands where the lighthouse stood and uses some of the stones in this ancient lighthouse.
From the lighthouse we went to the amphitheater that was also discovered by accident. In fact, they have just discovered more ancient ruins in the same area. There was heavy machinery moving dirt at the site when we were there. The amphitheater is small but in good shape. I got some good photos there. They have also added new seating and use the stage in front of the ancient amphitheater. We left Alexandria at 2:45 to travel back to Cairo. It would take about 3 hours for the trip. We heard the police officer's walkie talkie crackle and knew that there was a speed radar trap. In fact there were at least two on the way back from Alexandria. We passed the prison on this road and the farms. All land is irrigated and grows a lot of food for Egypt. We made good time even with the speed traps. Mohammed called ahead about the papyrus and about the jewelry. They would be open and awaiting us.