Monday, October 26, 2020

ANOTHER INSIGHT INTO THE LAND OF THE PHAROAHS

Egypt: Time seems to fly when you are having fun. I cannot believe I have been here for a fortnight already. 

This trip has been just what the doctor ordered.  Only now do I realise I have been stuck in a sluggish inertia since the beginning of the year. 

Life can be devastatingly monotonous sometimes. Everyday becomes Groundhog’s Day without you even noticing because you are practically sleep walking your way through life.  

Following a week of intense training workshops courtesy of the Union of African Journalists (UAJ) in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Media, it was now time to down tools and take well a deserved outing.  

Our next stop, 226km north of Cairo, was the City of Alexandria.  The city is famous for its rich history with cites such as the Citadel and the Alexandria Library bearing testimony. Upon arrival in Alexandria we immediately made our way to the Citadel before checking in at Cecil Hotel for the weekend.

The Citadel of Qaitbay (or the Fort of Qaitbay) is a 15th century defensive fortress located on the Mediterranean Sea, built upon the ruins of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt. 

It was established in 1477 AD by Sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qa’it Bay.

The castle is located at the end of the most western island of Pharaohs in Alexandria. 

The ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria was destroyed 702 years after a devastating earthquake that happened during the reign of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad.

We also visited the Alexandria Library.

The library was reborn in October 2002 to reclaim the mantle of its ancient namesake. The extraordinarily beautiful building is a vast complex where the arts, history, philosophy, and science come together. 

It was also here in Alexandria that a suicide bomber attacked a Coptic church, killing two people and just a month ago. The blast occurred hours after a bombing rocked another Coptic church in Tanta in Egypt’s Nile Delta, killing at least 25 people and injuring 60.

My reluctance to make the trip to Egypt was largely a result of the news surrounding the bombings.  I paid a visit to the church but only as far as the entrance.

“Let me see your passport sir,” a heavily armed police officer said. Unfortunately I had left my passport at the hotel. Perched right in the middle of a shopping street, the church remains under heavy surveillance.  Traffic in Alexandria is just the same as Cairo; bumper to bumper. Just like Cairo, Alexandria is also a great destination not just for its historic sites, and beaches but the night life and shopping. We made our way back to Cairo two days later. Our next visit was a short cruise on the Suez Canal. 

The Suez Canal (In Arabic: Qanat as-Suways), is an artificial sea-level waterway running north to south across the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt to connect the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. 

The canal separates the African continent from Asia, and it provides the shortest maritime route between Europe and the lands lying around the Indian and western Pacific oceans. 

It is one of the world’s most heavily used shipping lanes.ÔÇïÔÇï It is one of the most important waterways in the world.

ÔÇïWednesday May 10 we had dinner on the Nile Crystal cruising along the Nile River. The floating restaurant’s rooftop provides an incredible panoramic view of Cairo at night; truly breathtaking.  

We were also treated to a belly dancing performance. For a nation of incredibly conservative Muslim prudes, I was shocked the locals had no reservations watching a semi-naked woman displaying incredibly provocative dance moves.

As I wrap up this article we are now on our way to Urghada City, a beach resort town stretching some 40km along Egypt’s Red Sea coast.

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