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!
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.
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.
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.
Alexandria, around 2.5 hours from Cairo in Egypt.
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.
- 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
Ph: 1300 303 777
Mohamed Ahmed Restaurant
17 Shokour Street
Ph: +20 3 4873576
Sofitel Cecil Hotel
16 Saad Zagloul Square
Ph: +20 3 4877173
Sheraton Montazah Hotel
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
Egyptian Tourist Authority
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.
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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