23rd May 2012
22.05.2012 - 23.05.2012
The news of our visas filled us with relief and excitement. Finally we could wash Egypt from our skin and our hair; we would be free and adventuring again. With such good news we immediately set about organising our ferry out of Africa. The ferry to Marseille appeared to be no longer in service though the website had neglected to tell us this. Repeatedly we tried to book, only to fall at the final hurdle involving credit card security checks. We phoned the bank in England and they removed the ‘block’ freeing the card for use in Egypt, but it was still no good. We called again and they insisted that all should be OK and that our transaction would now run smoothly but still our computer insisted on saying no. A third phone call to the folks at the bank brought news that it was the ferry company that was failing to take payment rather than the bank declining the funds.
After some further research we discovered that the ferry was no more, and so, Plan G part 3 section iv came into action and we reverted to a ferry that would cross from Tunis to Genoa in Italy. It was only a hundred kilometres more and we could traverse the Alps in doing so and stop-over in Chantilly at my new workplace. With the ferry booked, we found a place to stay near the port for the night of our arrival in Genoa and booked a room.
After six hours we set off for a sensational sightseeing adventure around Alexandria. Ancient Alexandria’s lighthouse was called Pharos and was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was originally built in 283BC under the direction of a Greek chap named Sostratus. It stood around 125 metres high with a huge statue of Zeus at its top. Having seen the Pyramids we were on a roll, if only it hadn’t been for the fact that the lighthouse had collapsed in 700AD and its rebuilt structure then been re-razed by an earthquake in 1303. With this in mind there was little left to see; this was especially so given the fact that in the 1480’s a Sultan called Qaitbey built a fortress on top of the lighthouse’s foundations. The fortress was an easily spotted landmark in Alexandria and would be even more so if the British hadn’t blown up its minaret in 1882. Inside we did get to see one or two foundation stones of the lighthouse and in doing so we ticked number two on our seven wonders list; the third may take a while.
From the lighthouse, ice creams in hand we took a taxi to the catacombs. A funery complex discovered when a donkey being used in nearby excavations fell through the ground and into the tomb. We had left our camera at the entrance and were alone two stories underground and wandering amongst coffin sized culverts hewn into the rock. One particular tomb had been elaborately sculpted with a blend of Egyptian and Roman artwork. The Egyptian God of the afterlife, Anubis, wore Roman body armour as he anointed the dead; Roman statues flanked the tombs entrance and nearby was a triclinium, a three couched room for relatives to recline and toast to the deceased.
Back upstairs and in the glare of the daylight again we walked back through town and went for another evening tea in Delices. The sun set as we stood on our balcony and the streets filled with night time traffic and the shops enjoyed their busiest hours. With a fixed exit date, we began to plan our itinerary across over three thousand kilometres of Mediterranean coast line. Not since Montgomery began chasing Rommel would the British have advanced so quickly across North Africa.