Friday, July 30, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The entrance and the interesting facade. A Norwegian Architecture firm won the rights to design the rebuilding of the library.
There is a small entrance fee. I can't remember how much it was, but it was worth whatever I paid for. And there was a free tour in English, which we didn't know they provide. Just ask the front desk for the time of tour. We didn't really know but we asked if a tour was available. This was an interesting tour - about 30 minutes long.
This is the roof from outside, all glass, and being cleaned. All these glass give out natural light to the interiors.
This is the roof from the street level. It is designed to imitate the rising sun. The architectural design is indeed pretty elaborate.
We walked up and down the stairs - to get some photos - after the tour.
It's huge. HUGE and so bright and airy.
The dimensions of the project are vast: the library has shelf space for eight million books, with the main reading room covering 70,000 m² on eleven cascading levels. The complex also houses a conference center; specialized libraries for maps, multimedia, the blind and visually impaired, young people, and for children; four museums; four art galleries for temporary exhibitions; 15 permanent exhibitions; a planetarium (pictured above); and a manuscript restoration laboratory. The library's architecture is equally striking. The main reading room stands beneath a 32-meter-high glass-panelled roof, tilted out toward the sea like a sundial, and measuring some 160 m in diameter. The walls are of gray Aswan granite, carved with characters from 120 different human scripts.
The collections at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina were donated from all over the world. The Spanish donated documents that detailed their period of Moorish rule. The French also donated, giving the library documents dealing with the building of the Suez Canal.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina maintains the only copy and external backup of the Internet Archive.
After the guided tour and our personal tour and photography sessions, we found there was plenty of time left. And while I was lingering on the art installations, my fellow travelers were up on the front desk requesting computer access. Apparently the library allows for a free hour computer use. Since I was eager to check in with my family, I went up to see a line has formed for the access. My gal pals were at the head of the line and I was at the very end. Then all of a sudden the first Egyptian girl (college age) walked to where I was standing and grabbed my arm and spoke to me - while pulling me to the front of the line. I politely said I wouldn't mind waiting my turn. She spoke to everyone behind her in line (all girls - separate lines for male and female) and everyone smiled and voiced no objections. I couldn't say no after that. Not even the woman behind the counter giving the access said anything, just handed me the access code. That was very sweet of them. I don't know if they do that for everybody, but I was the receiving end of random act of kindness and it felt good.
When I located the computer that was assigned to me, I saw two older gentlemen sitting at the table. I politely asked them to use the computer. They asked for my permit. They carefully inspected the paper I handed to them making sure I was at the right station. Then they asked me where I was from. When I said America they smiled and said, NO, where I was originally. :)
Their curiosity has been satisfied, they left me and my husband alone to check in with family and friends. Guess what? Email is blocked. But not FACEBOOK. So from the library computers, my traveling companions and I became facebook friends.
I believe one of the comments I received in this series is if my travel companions and I have contact. Yes we do is the answer. And the funny thing is my husband and I received travel dates with two different couples. I was floored. I asked my husband if we're that fun to travel with. I think it's my husband they wanted on their team because he not only has a great sense of direction, his common sense and adventurous nature make traveling fun.
Read up on the library here.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Did no do the camel ride, wasn't too crazy about it.
Really hard to turn one's back and walk away from the pyramids, believe you me.
Lucky we didn't find the place too crowded.
On many many images online and on magazines, I have seen the Sphinx in vivid color. This is how I saw it, bland and lifeless. I was a bit disappointed. It must be the lighting. This was dusk. I don't know how it got dark too quickly from the pyramids ride to here, is not even 5 minutes.
The sun was starting to go down and the light wasn't really complementary to the Sphinx I thought.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I stepped out of the tour bus and did not hear anything else. I wasn't even listening to Iman describe and educate us about the pyramids. My eyes appeared to have protruded out of their sockets. I just looked and looked.
So if you want to know more about the pyramids at Giza, our friendly wikipedia has this comprehensive page.
For a personal take on the Giza pyramids, fellow blogger Dennis of Nomadic Pinoy has this to say here.
This post also is my entry to this week's:
SKYWATCH #99: Egypt.
PHOTO HUNT #91: Triangle
PS. I just realized this also happens to my by 900th post. Yay!
Monday, July 12, 2010
Not too long we caught a glimpse of those beautiful peaks.
Passed by Giza where we saw camels alongside motorized vehicles sharing the roadway.
Arrived in Giza. This is our much improved vehicle from the one that we initially had. This one had extra seats, so I'm guessing this one's an 18-seater. The air conditioning is such a pleasure. Likewise are the clean windows for us tourists who snap while the bus moves along.
Ticketbox. Get tickets before entering, part of the tour fees.
Note: I have been having technical difficulties with firewall and proxy servers. I have taken video clips from this trip but somehow has been unable to upload them on Flickr, Facebook, and You Tube, which causes me too much distress. Giving my husband reason to call me Drama Queen.
Is there anyone who can tell me what to do when my videos don't upload and I get an error that says: Unknown error occurs. My files are AVI and MVI.
I really really wanted to share with you this one particular video. If I cannot overcome this hurdle, I will have to suspend one posting for this series.
Thursday, July 08, 2010
The driver was accompanied by Iman, who acted as our tour guide. She was a very charming young woman in her twenties and conversant in English. I totally loved her accent, although according to Amanda she can be quite abrasive. You know keeping true to the time limit and not giving in to our propensity to drag our heels.
I was lucky to be riding the front seat with Iman when we set off from Ramses station to the museum, but we first stopped at a foreign exchange station and we got some much needed lira for our tour. Money problems solved, a bit.
Upon arrival at the Museum of Antiquities, the driver wanted to collect all the money for the tour. Half of us didn’t pay yet. We thought keeping our money until after the tour is over is our bargaining chip, that we won’t be abandoned in the middle of the desert or something. You hear all these crazy stories - horror stories - about travelers being duped and abandoned and robbed. You know all those things. But the driver played hardball with us too. He said that since AJ and Monica reserved the tour, he can take them to do the tour. Now it’s our choice whether we wanted to go on the tour and if we did, then pay upfront or hit the road. Haha. Apparently, he’s had bad experiences with tourists running out on him after doing the tour. Well, what else could we do, we paid up.
The entrance fee to the museum was part of the tour fee. But cameras are strictly forbidden inside the museum. There is a place to leave one’s bags and cameras and we had no choice but to avail of the service.
The Museum of Antiquities was an amazing building. The exhibits were both fascinating and mind boggling. A Disneyland for history lovers and archeology buffs. I am neither but I could easily spend a whole week browsing through the many many display tables and statues and relics and jewelry and oh everything else there.
I thought the time we spent in the museum was very limited. I guess, Iman allotted just one hour for the tour and she had to stick to the schedule. She however was very knowledgeable, or at least she played the part of a tour guide really well. I found out that even NCL tour only allotted one hour in this place.
When we left the museum we had to wait for our driver. In the meantime, we ate whatever goodies we brought from the ship, fruits and cookies. And when he arrived, he was bringing an 18-seater minibus, air-conditioned and quite impressive. We were all happy to be having enough room to complete this tour.
Here are some random images. All from outside as no cameras are allowed inside
I can't believe I didn't get a better shot. The day we were there it was crowded.
Cleopatra is this you?
Being an alumna of the Pink-walled university, I am partial to anything pink. I especially thought bringing the same color to the fence was brilliant.
While waiting for our transportation, we gathered around for a souvenir group shot.
For more comprehensive information, fellow blogger Nomadic Pinoy covered the same visit to the Museum in his post seen here.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
It’s another sea day. We talked to every body about our plans for Cairo the next day. In our group meeting were Colleen and Ron, Amanda and Dave, Maiada and Najwa and us. I cant remember much what we did today to be honest with you.
November 21, 2009
It’s our Cairo Trip today.
We agreed yesterday that we would meet at deck 5 at quarter to 7 so we could go to the train station to catch the 8:15 am express train. We didn’t get out of the boat until after 7. We took two taxis and reached Alexandria station. At the station, we chanced upon AJ and Monica waiting for the train. We agreed to go with them. Then Najwa went to get our tickets, but there was a delay as the computer system was down so they had to handwrite all our tickets in maybe a 3 x 2 inches cardboard, really funny.
After the tickets were purchased we learned that there is no 8:15 train, but there was an express train at 9 am, which we were hoping would take 2.5 hours to Cairo - took a total of 3 hours, just like taking the bus. At the train station right before we went to get our tickets, we were approached by some men who wanted to take us to Cairo for a reasonable price, but Maiada was not comfortable with the situation. So we all agreed for our safety, the train is the best bet. When we spoke with AJ and Monica we learned they arranged for a tour in Cairo in the amount of 70 US dollars. We told him if he could get them to take us too, it would also mean that the price they would pay would mean less, right? Inside the first class cabin.
We found the train and boarded the first class cabin. It’s not really first class quality by Western standards, but it’s good enough. Inside the car we also found French Canadian couple who belong to our cruise. The main players (Roy, Maiada, French guy, and Najwa) were discussing logistics quite loudly, that garnered the ire of one local and he was not shy to let us know about it. He approached Maiada who I believe he heard speak Arabic and aired his complaints in Arabic, which Maiada translated for all of us as - "Keep it down, I'm trying to get some zzzz here." Me I just was too happy for this brand-new experience. I was watching the passing scenery. I couldn't keep count of the number of mosques we passed by. Mostly the scenery was rural. The restroom was another experience altogether. I’d rather have the squat toilets in Malaysia than this urine smelling awful toilet, but I’d chalked it up to experience of course.
Reaping Egyptian cotton.
When the train reached Ramses station in Cairo, Hubby spotted the Tourist Information. He asked about where to get some money exchange. The lady behind the counter was friendly and spoke good English. She told us that outside the square (Ramses Square) there is a mosque and to the left of it is a Forex foreign exchange. Needing some Egyptian pounds really badly, we went outside to find the place. Maiada and Dave went with us. Finding the mosque was easier said than done. When we went outside the train station and walked a few feet, there was a very busy main road and there was more than one mosque. The main road was fenched off so in order to cross it we had to walk a few feet to the left to cross, such a hassle. Hence, Maiada said there is mosque everywhere and we don’t know which one the tourist lady was talking about.
Inside the station there were ATM machines, about 4 of them I think. We tried to get some dollars, but our card was not accepted. Frustrated at not being able to withdraw some money, we kept trying on different machines, but all were failures. I really got worried because we did not have enough cash to go around. This got me down and ruined my day quite a bit. I was thinking of doing some serious shopping in Cairo when we go to the flea market. But well, I was going to roll with it. (We notified our banks that we would be going to Europe around the Mediterranean area from date a to date b and will be using the card. They wanted us to specify that at date so and so we would be at this particular city. That was the cause of the confusion with our bank/credit cards - sigh!)
When the negotiations for the amount of money needed to take the tour was completed with the people that AJ and Monica signed up with, we were ushered in a minivan for 7 people at the most and there were 12 of us. We had to make do with the cramped seating until after we got to the Museum of Antiquities, where the driver will fetch a bigger transportation for us while we visit the museum. Anyway, the amount agreed for the tour was 275 Egyptian Lira, which equals to 55 US dollars. Not really bad considering the amount quoted by NCL official tour was three times the amount.
Arriving at Ramses station in Cairo - busy station - while others were trying to negotiate with pricing for the tour, I was shooting.
This Egypt series is part of the Mediterranean cruise we took last November. I know I am way behind in posting.