Thursday, December 16, 2010
Hello Alexandria, you're crap so far
In defence of this city - the former capital of Egypt, the seat of Egyptian power under Cleopatra and Roman power under Alexander the Great, the home of the legendary Library of Alexandria and lighthouse - it's not actually Alexandria's fault.
If the holiday the White Witch and I had in Lebanon was a perfect example of kismet and wondrous serendipity, this one is (so far) a little of the opposite.
First of all, we are in the Hotel Acropole, which has one star under the Egyptian ratings system. One.
It's slightly better than the room I had in Palmyra, Syria, where there was a rocket shell-sized hole in the concrete wall that let the freezing Syrian air in.... but not much. Four flights of marble stairs, because the lift is a dilapidated old thing with an open shaft, a rusty pulley, and doors that don't close, so you are open to the air around you as you creak slowly upwards. Like, falling-out open to the air around you. Eek.
And the room, which apparently hasn't been cleaned since Cleopatra was empress here, has rock hard beds (good), a lovely sea view (good), faces onto the Midan Saad Zaghoul (which is terribly, terribly noisy) and the whole place looks as though it might go up in flames at any minute due to the shoddy electrics on the wall next to my bed (bad, not surprisingly).
I submit photographic evidence here, so that if in fact the place does explode in a ball of fire while we're here, one of you can produce it triumphantly when you sue the hotel management for negligence and wrongful death, on my behalf.
And, we have a shared bathroom. This will be one of those hotel stays we look back on fondly and laugh about. I hope.
To add insult to injury, I managed to very carefully pack my suitcase last night in Bahrain, and very carefully charged my camera battery, and very carefully put the camera battery back into the camera - and then completely forgot to pack the charger itself. So I had to go out and spent $70 US dollars on a new one the minute after we had checked into our room. Sigh.
It annoyed me, too, because the last time I was in Egypt - Cairo, Luxor and Aswan - in 2004 with My One True Love, the camera I had at that time was a film one, and it was on its last legs, and it only took about every fifth shot I tried to capture. I was really looking forward to getting some good pics of Egypt this time! So to leave my charger behind ... well, I wasn't very happy with myself.
But here we are, for four days, and we plan to make the most of it. We'd like to see the catacombs, the new Library, perhaps make a day trip to Rosetta (where they found the famous Rosetta Stone that is now in the British Museum), visit the souqs, and take in a bit of Alexandrian life.
So far we've enjoyed a local Stella beer in the very posh Cecil Hotel, we visited one of the famous chocolate shops here, and taken in a film at a run-down old cinema. Which isn't bad for our first night.
Now we're yawning, so it's time for bed .... more - and better - adventures tomorrow.