Having spent 2 weeks in Alexandria I have, slowly, worked my way through all its interesting sites, from Montazah Palace in the East to Fort Qaitbey in the West. To get to the fort I passed a petrol depot, a police station, and quite a number of other ugly buildings. I’d just walked the ‘Pharos scenic path’, named for the ancient lighthouse, one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world. (One of the modern wonders is how to get a new British passport from abroad without dying of old age in the process.) The Pharos now lies close-by in the Mediterranean, the fort standing on its site.
There is much of an ancient stance in the city. Founded at 4.15pm on 7th April 331 BC* its far too young to have archeology dating from ancient Egypt. Its a Greco-Roman city. Buried under here are tombs, a hippodrome, and the palaces of Cleopatra’s royal quarter. Pompey’s Pillar still remains visible, beyond a warren of streets and maze of tramlines: something like 10 lines all interconnecting at different points around the city. There was almost no-one else at the pillar when I arrived. I was shortly joined by groups from 2 coaches, who marched up to the pillar – dictated to Roman Emperor Declotian, but thought to contain Pompey the Great’s ashes – take some photos and race back down the limestone ridge and jumble of ruins.
There is also Egypt’s only Roman amphitheatre, just by the fire brigade headquarters, so small it could fir into my living room with a little imagination (I don’t have a living room). But in search of new ideas for what to do with my time I visit the tourist office at the station.
From the reaction of the man behind the desk he hadn’t seen anyone for a while. Explaining my needs, he explains he has nothing in English. I walk away with 2 booklets on Cairo (French and Italian), one on The Oases (German), Sinai (French), The Red Sea (French), and Alexandria (Italian). All had the covering of dust to suggest they may have been there since the city’s founding that April afternoon in 331 BC.
*The date at least is true