November 10th, 2010

journey

Alexandria

In spite of having been up late the night before, I had to get up nice and early today because I was going along as a "crew escort" on a guest tour of landmarks of Alexandria. My job would be to render assistance to any passengers that might need it, to observe and report anything that happened on the tour, and to help with head counts to make sure nobody got left behind.

The Journey sailed a couple hours late last night, due to tours running late because of traffic, but we managed to dock just about on time this morning. The tours were scheduled to head out at 9:30, and we managed to get going by 10:00. I was assigned to bus six (there were at least eight buses), with 35 guests. Our guide (whose name I have forgotten, sadly) was very good, she was very informative and funny. As we drove through Alexandria, she told us about the history of the city, which I won't go into here, since it would be lengthy, and you have access to Google, so go look it up.

Our first stop was the Royal Summer Residence, called "Montazza" (I'm not sure of the spelling). First, we looked at the hunting chalet, which is now a hotel, I believe, and we then stopped at the palace itself for a photo op. I saw some cats walking around the grounds of the chalet, and took a picture of one of them, who was meowing at me and stopped (as if posing) halfway through stepping through a railing.

Next, we went to the ultra-modern new Alexandria Library, a very impressive structure, housing an immense number of books, as well as art and an antiquities museum. Then we made a short stop at the fortress, which itself was quite impressive, but is notable mainly for being built on the site of the now-vanished Alexandria Lighthouse, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

En route to our next stop, we got mired in the astonishingly confusing Egyptian traffic. Even the tour guide admitted that it seemed as if "the only rule of the road is there is no rule." The security man assigned to our bus got out at one point to direct traffic, in order to get us through one particularly difficult intersection. As we drove nearer to the port, the city got more and more decayed and poor looking. We passed a huge flea market area, with an amazing number of toilets, wooden doors, fire extinguishers, car parts, you name it.

We finally arrived at our next destination, the catacombs. Unfortunately, I couldn't take any pictures of this, cameras were not allowed. We descended a spiral stair into this Roman ruin, carved directly out of the limestone, and explored the many chambers and passages below. I felt like Indiana Jones, minus the fedora and bullwhip.

Our last stop was a gift shop, containing many authentic Egyptian souvenirs (most probably made in China!), then we headed back to the ship. I got back by 4:30, in plenty of time for my 6pm show. I made a quick call to my sweetie (I love you!) and grabbed something to eat before my show.

I had quite a few people in the audience for my show, including a couple I had met and spoken to previously, who confided that they hadn't gone to see any of the other musical acts, they just always seemed to decide to come listen to me, which was gratifying to hear. There was also another couple I'd spoken to on the tour earlier in the day, who came to see me as a result of finding out what I did on the ship. They paid me a wonderful compliment, which was that I seemed to be playing as background music, but I was "too good to be background music."

After my show was over at 9:30, I headed back to my cabin to do some email and make a couple of phone calls, including calling my dear daughter Nina. I told her I got her a souvenir in Alexandria, which she made me describe (I got her a pen with an ornate Egyptian Cat design), and she said she didn't want me to send anything home, she want me to bring her all the souvenirs I get her all at once when I got home. It was great to talk to her, I miss her so much.

The next two days are sea days, on our way to Sorrento, Italy.