Best Day Trip to Alexandria, Egypt
When we got home from shopping, Rana’s father surprised us. He had arranged a day trip to Alexandria, Egypt for Rana and me. We planned our day to Alexandria, the evening before leaving with her whole family present sitting around Rana’s kitchen table in Cairo. Her dad made the Best Day Trip to Alexandria Egypt just for us.
The Last Hour of Fasting
Driving from Cairo to Alexandria isn’t a long journey. Our trip is under three hours. But, the drive is through the desert toward the ocean. The trip is hot, and the view is non-stop desert as far as you can see. Miles of brown sand that is a sea of dust and blue skies with hardly any vegetation.
Our Day Trip
By the way – Rana explained that she would be fasting. Therefore, she wouldn’t have food or fluids from sunrise to sundown at 8:03 pm. Fasting is part of the tradition on the Friday before Eid.
“I will fast too.”
After all, how could I eat in front of my friend? Rana expressed her doubts that I could fast the full day. After all, I was Christian and not a trained Muslim. Rana explained that Muslim’s learn to fast from childhood and start to learn the practice at around 10-13 years old. She explained that children are taught to fast from a young age, so when they grow up, they can successfully fast. Rana said it would be good for me to try but, ok if I broke the fast.
Fasting and Traveling
Having been raised Catholic, I had fasted on Fridays and for Holy days. Though, I knew how to fast my Muslim friends didn’t think I could. Moreover, I embraced the challenge. Because she thought, as a Christian, I couldn’t do it. My goal was to prove I could do it out of respect for her and to show a side of me she hadn’t seen.
Breakfast Before Our Fast
We awoke early and ate a big breakfast. I had my usual bread and fruit. Rana had a traditional Egyptian breakfast of rice, beans, spices and a yummy spicy yogurt. Her choice of foods was delicious!
Apparently, her selection of food better prepares for the day’s fast. I can’t say she didn’t warn me – that I should eat up.
Road to Alexandria – The Grey Desert Route
Our Desert Drive
The drive through the desert avoided tolls. We drove past military installations guarding the desert. We were speeding. The first time the police stopped us we paid a fine. Then the police stopped us a second time. We gave up the driver’s license. It would be returned when the driver appeared in court. If we received a third ticket, we would lose the car. We would look pretty silly, standing in the desert without a car. Needless to say, we stopped speeding.
Citadel of Qaitbay, Egypt
We walked along the sea. Alexandria is a town that runs 20 miles along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
A Brief History of Alexandria
Alexandria is best known for the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Pharos) during the Hellenistic period. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Alexandria was the home of Great Library. Once, the largest in the ancient world. Now replaced by a modern one and the Necropolis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. Alexandria was the second most powerful city in the ancient world after Rome. Ongoing maritime archaeology in the harbor of Alexandria, which began in 1994. The big dig is revealing details of Alexandria before the arrival of Alexander the Great when a city named Rhacotis. The big dig is also teaching us more about the Ptolemaic dynasty.
Day Trip Alexandria Egypt Includes Citadel of Qaitbay
Here is the bay next around the Citidal. I liked the giant chess pieces that the street vendors were selling. The little city was calm, laid back, and very few tourists were here.
My tummy grumbled, but, I wasn’t going to give in to my desire to stop fasting. My determination, in full gear, was on fire. The need for food gave way to a parched mouth. I was more thirsty than hungry. I wasn’t going to quit.
Around noon, Rana asked if I wanted to stop fasting. Nope, I am good. We walked through the Citadel.
Once the Lighthouse of Alexandria
The Lighthouse of Alexandria aka Pharos was used to build the Citadel and is where the Citadel now stands. We spied romantic couples. Rana thought this couple was on their honeymoon.
At the Marina
Walking about ten blocks to another marina – Rana had a surprise for me. She wanted to rent a boat for us to go out on the bay. We looked at many boats, but they didn’t seem seaworthy to me. We bartered with the fishermen, but that didn’t get us anywhere.
Finally, I said, “let’s not go out in the boat. The vessels don’t look safe to me. I’m afraid we won’t make it back.”
Rana asked if I was getting grumpy. She suggested that if I wanted to stop fasting, maybe I should stop fasting. She smiled at me, knowing more than she let on to me.
Nope, I am good, and I also have my determination! Then the call for prayer was cried out, and people walked like a parade to evening pray.
People Took Carriage Rides Waiting for Dinner
Table with a View
White and Blue Restaurant
After prayer, we went to the White and Blue restaurant. We sat down, read the menu and quickly ordered as if rushing to place our order would bring on sunset. Then we waited. Rana asked the waiter not to bring the meal until sundown. He agreed, with a nod of understanding. I looked around – no one in the whole restaurant was eating. Every table, about twenty of tables with seated guests, waited for sundown. Not eatting or snacking was the hardest part of the trip. My steadfast determination took over. All my thoughts and acts were about food. We had an hour to go.
We Looked at the Boats
Talking about our day, we could smell the food cooking. The restaurant filled with local people. the restaurant had a muffled sound. We made more small talk. Fortunately, the beautiful view of the harbor kept us somewhat, occupied. We waited, waited and waited. The other guests were softly talking. The restaurant goers were in a surreal trance of patience. No one was eating, everyone was staring blankly, and looked dazed and confused. Waiting is very hard. When you want to be eating, it is hard to think about anything else. After a beautiful day, and hungry making conversation is hard, being sociable is even harder. Then we waited some more.
Then We Waited
Suddenly, “BAM” the doors from the kitchen opened.
The men didn’t say a word. SILENTLY, they walked like ballet dancers with grace and precision, but we couldn’t hear them or anyone in the room breath. Men quietly came rushing out to the dining area.
The Waiters March
About twenty waiters carried trays high over their heads laden with food. Our food arrived, and ten dishes were before us. The fish looked delicious and smelled extraordinary, the colorful salads, beans and rice, bread, hummus, tomatoes, eggplant and were a feast. A sumptuous feast was before us. Within five minutes of eating – we looked at each other and started laughing. We had ordered way too much food. Suddenly, at the same time we all realized without communicating a word, we were pigging out.
We had leftovers even after gorging ourselves!
We had enough leftovers to feed her whole family. Rana congratulated me. I had done it. My fast with her while traveling, made her very happy. (BTW: Muslims don’t require fasting when traveling.) Rana told me I was mature because I had fasted without learning how. Remember, I kept my promise as a sign of my word and who I am. For sure, I didn’t want to break my promise after everything she and her family had done for me. Fasting showed respect to her, her family and beliefs. Rana agreed with my assumption. She commented that my fasting was a gift to her and showed her family respect.
Out of respect, I didn’t want to fail. Failure had never been an option.
Fruits of Our Day Trip Alexandria Egypt
We returned home with our leftovers. The house was quiet, and we went to bed. When we woke in the morning, we looked for the leftovers. They were gone. After late night prayer, some time after midnight, Muslims eat their last meal before fasting starts that day. Eating is permitted as long as it’s before dawn. Our leftovers went to good use. We fed the family.
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