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Alexandria, Egypt

Thursday, April 2, 2009
Alexandria is Egypt's second-largest city. It sits on the Mediterranean coast in the country's north-central. The road, known as The Corniche, between the city and the sea, runs for 32km and that's where Jason Dundas found all the action, day and night. The road is dotted with casinos on stilts and rows of beach houses.

Known as "The Pearl of the Mediterranean", Alexandria's atmosphere is more Mediterranean than Middle Eastern.

It was founded by Alexander the Great in around 334 BC and in Graeco-Roman times Alexandria was the Mediterranean's main port and was central in the trading post between Europe and Asia.

It's a good idea to spend time with an English-speaking guide as Alexandria has much history. It was the home of Cleopatra. When Julius Caesar passed away she moved on to Mark Antony and that led to massive civil wars in Rome and eventually Roman invasion. She was quite a woman!

Diving

The sea holds much historical interest and divers and scuba divers enjoy monuments and statues and the 15th century Fort Qaitbey on the site of the Pharos of Alexandria lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Archaeologists have been exploring the depths for years, but recreational diving is the up-and-coming thing.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

In amongst the history of Alexandria the modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina library has room for eight million books. It was inspired by Alexandria's great ancient library with a design resembling a gigantic angled discus. The curved exterior walls are carved with giant letters, pictograms, hieroglyphs and symbols from 120 scripts. The main reading room sits beneath a 32m high glass-panelled roof tilted towards the sea. It is estimated to have cost around $250 million to build.

Foul Mohamed Ahmed Restaurant

Don't be put off by the name — "foul" is fava beans with egg. Just about everyone you meet will recommend eating at Mohamed Ahmed. They use lots of seafood but if, like Jason, that's not your favourite, their falafel, hummous, babaganoush, fried cheese and pita bread, salads and lots of aubergine creations are delicious and very filling.

Sofitel Cecil Hotel

Even if you aren't staying at The Cecil pop in for high tea or just a look. It was built in 1929 by the Egyptian-French-Jewish Metzger family and has hosted everyone from Winston Churchill to Al Capone. The city landmark has restaurants and bars and if you fancy a change of cuisine, the Chinese restaurant on the roof is one of the best in town.

Sheraton Montazah Hotel

Jason stayed at the Montazah and found its location perfect. It's close to the beaches and cultural and tourist attractions. It overlooks the Corniche and guests enjoy sea views at Caesar Bar before heading to the Aquarius disco. Coquillage Café is open 24 hours a day, La Mamma serves Italian dishes and Café Rendez Vous specialises in baked goods.

Night Markets

The Alexandria souk behind the Corniche is open every night from sunset. It is filled with colourful stalls of clothing, food, spices, jewellery and souvenirs.

Location

Alexandria, around 2.5 hours from Cairo in Egypt.

Cost

Mohamed Ahmed Restaurant is open every day between 8am and 1am.

Greece and Mediterranean Travel Centre has two-day private tours from Cairo to Alexandria. Accommodation at the Sheraton Montazah with breakfast, transport and entrance fees are included and they cost $695 per person twin share.

Emirates has flights to Cairo.

Fares from:

  • Perth $1715
  • Melbourne $1716
  • Sydney $1733
  • Brisbane $1736

Valid for sale until April 9, 2009 and for travel until June 30, 2009 and again between September 1 and November 20, 2009. Conditions apply.

Prices correct at April 2, 2009.

For further information

Emirates
Ph: 1300 303 777
www.emirates.com/getaway

Mohamed Ahmed Restaurant
Raml Station
17 Shokour Street
Alexandria
Egypt
Ph: +20 3 4873576

Sofitel Cecil Hotel
16 Saad Zagloul Square
1726 Alexandria
Egypt
Ph: +20 3 4877173
www.accorhotels.com/gb

Sheraton Montazah Hotel
Corniche Road
Alexandria
Egypt
Ph: +20 3 5480550

Greece and Mediterranean Travel Centre
Suite 2, 644 Botany Road
Alexandria NSW 2015
Ph: (02) 9313 4633
Fax: (02) 9313 4475
www.greecemedtravel.com
info@greecemedtravel.com.au

Egyptian Tourist Authority
www.egypt.travel

Visas: Visas are required to enter Egypt and passports must have at least six months' validity. Visas can be obtained from Egyptian embassies worldwide.

Electricity: 220V/50Hz using European plugs with two circular metal pins.

Time zone: GMT +2.

Currency: Egyptian pound

International dialling code: +20.

Egypt
It is recommended travellers to Egypt see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information visit www.welltogo.com.au.

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User comments
I totally agree with 'sharabia,brunswick' comment above. You did a good effort, however, an inadequate one to show all real aspects of life and people in Alexandria (modern or ancient, average or class). Focusing on one aspect only would definitely convey a confused and inaccurate impression. Regards.
I saw your show but was disappointed that your have not shown the real beauty of Alexandria not all women are veiled and you are giving the wrong idea, we were there in October and had a great time ,you should have shown the Four Seasons Hotel, the beaches of west alexandria
I was born in Alex and returned with my wife four years ago to check out the sites and cemetery where relatives are buried. Visited all the places shown on Getaway today including where i lived until five years of age. The people were so friendly and the city very clean. Alex has a great history of Europeans who populated the city up until 1951 when Nasser made them unwelcomed. Check out my trip details at www.aaha.ch then go to Alexandria Bulletins no 25 Great show Getaway

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