Friday, December 17, 2010
As I come up for air in the middle of gift wrapping, my mind wanders and my heart aches for a little alone time.
[artist rendering of barcelona's las ramblas]
Okay so it's a little chaotic too, but this kind I can take and enjoy.
Or maybe a little alone time - really alone time.
Nah, Holidays is for family. I will just have to suck it up and enjoy. There's always some eggnog to put me in the mood :)
Friday, August 13, 2010
As we were about to enter the port (needs to sign out - sign in), I looked behind me and saw this sight. I found Alexandria very charming, even their streets not facing the waterfront.
Also I spotted the Port Authority Museum, which we didn't visit.
This is the way back to the ship - about a 15-minute walk from the gate.
And what do you know, inside the port there was a outdoor marketplace selling jewelry, souvenir items, and knick knacks. I purchased a little souvenir for me - a pair of earrings.
I liked the juxtaposition of Alexandria skyline and the end (can't remember my naval term) of the boat.
With this post, I bid Alexandria adieu. A new series next post.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
On the drive back to the port, we passed by a mosque.
and an open air marketplace,
and an unusual building - but what a beautiful blue sky as a backdrop, eh?
Tried very hard to capture some street scenes from a moving vehicle.
And another mosque.
When I was doing research on how to go about DIY tours of Rome, Athens, and Cairo/Alexandria, I stumbled on website after website full of warnings to tourists about how not to be taken advantage by taxi driver.
These sites cautioned the tourists to be aware of the scam that taxi drivers use to take advantage of people like us. They noted that only pay what you initially agreed upon at the beginning of the tour. And that if all else pays, yell POLICE.
When we agreed to take these two taxis among the six of us the agreement was 100 Egyptian pounds for 2 taxis. 50 pounds per taxi. Our driver spoke English, but there was another mediator who helped them understand the deal. They said yes. Of course, the deal was only a roundtrip to the Library. But as you see, we were taken to the Citadel and the Mosque.
When we were dropped off at the port, the fare became 100 euros per taxi. Yap! So the males in our group, most notably my husband, argued to stick to the initial agreement. So a bartering ensued. The drivers wanted more but our group steadfastly held on to the deal, which seriously is a steal.
And so we decided to give a little bit more since we were shown a few more sights than what was agreed upon. But the non-English speaking taxi driver was adamant that he be paid in euros, and 100 euros at that.
So we had to use the tactic that the internet and other previous travelers on travel forums suggested, we yelled POLICE and a mediator immediately appeared on our side. He inquired what the matter was and when both sides presented their sides, the mediator told us to pay whatever was initially agreed upon. Please do not be afraid to stand your ground.
In Barcelona, when a prospective pickpocket (a female no less) tried to snatch an Eastern European woman's backpack, she yelled POLICIA at the top of her lungs and the pickpocket and her accomplice disappeared in an alley so fast. We stopped to talk to the girl as she inspects if something was taken from her backpack - the zipper was open. And I asked if she read the forums advising people to yell POLICE, she smiled and said yes.
Monday, August 09, 2010
As we were heading back to the port, we passed by this imposing looking mosque. I can't remember if we asked our driver to stop or our friends from the other taxi stopped first to look, but we were given a few minutes to snap some photos.
Shoot first - then check wikipedia later, isn't this the rule when traveling and seeing something foreign on your own without the help of a tour guide? So here's what wikipedia says about this mosque:
"El-Mursi Abul-Abbas Mosque (Arabic: جامع المرسي أبو العباس) is a famous mosque in Alexandria, Egypt, which is dedicated to the Alexandrine Sufi saint el-Mursi Abul Abbas.
It is located in the Anfoushi neighborhood of Alexandria, near the Citadel of Qaitbay.
The most important historic mosque inAlexandria, Egypt, as well as a very beautiful one, is considered to be that of Abu El Abbas El Mursi. Constructed in 1775 by Algerians, it was built over the tomb of the thirteenth century Murcia Andalusan saint, Ahmed Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi (Abu'l 'Abbas) who joined and then lead, as a devout Sufi, the Shadhali brotherhood. Abu El Abbas El Mursi is in himself a very interesting story."
Read more here.
The gate was open, we came inside a bit but didn't go farther than a foot or so of the opened gate. We felt we were intruding. I didn't think there was service at that time.
This is the street scene just outside of the serene looking mosque inside its compound.
And this is what faces the mosque, a beautiful view of the sea. I have seen plenty of people on this trip walking around the streets selling postcards like this one in this photo. I saw some in Athens too.
Friday, August 06, 2010
Our taxi drivers were amenable to our wishes, we pushed our luck and asked them to show us the Citadel. They both agreed. However, we knew that we didn't have time to explore the interiors because that was not part of the initial agreement.
We found a makeshift bazaar outside of the Citadel plying all kinds of stuff that I would love to take home.
Browsing at the merchandise, bartering, not getting good price, moving on to the next stall which sells the same exact selection. Eventually we found one to take home.
The bazaar was set in a picturesque setting. I would love to return to Alexandria someday.
With regards to my Flickr problem, you would notice here that it is solved. I think the site was having problems that first day they launched the new page, because I read from their forum that other people were having the same problems I had - the html link to my photo were not visible, hence I wasn't able to post more than one photo in this blog - because the "blog this" function only allows for one photo per blog post. Needless to say, I am a happy camper once again.
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
The Citadel of Qaitbay [Fort of Qaitbay] is a15th century defensive fortress located on the Mediterrranean sea coast and built upon/from the ruins of the Lighthouse of Alexandria - which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
When we were on the boat before disembarking for the day, my husband and I spotted a lighthouse (no kidding). From the deck we could see a lighthouse in the direction of the citadel.
So imagine my confusion when I walked up to the Information desk inside the library to ask how I could go to visit the lighthouse. The man behind the desk politely informed me that "the lighthouse" no longer existed and there is no other lighthouse in Alexandria. He added that the Citadel is worth a visit though. And volunteered the information that the government is working on rebuilding the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria. Were we seeing things? I swear my hubs and I saw a lighthouse and thought I'd snapped one - for Ginnie.
Anyone have Flickr and are posting from Flickr? I store my photos here. Today they unfurled their new page layout and along with this I found that I could'nt blog as many photos as I can - just like the way I did in the past, during the old page days. If anyone who uses flickr for blogging has found a way to post multiple images on their blog, I'd really need to speak to you.
So while I sort this out, it looks like one photo a day this will revert to.
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Here are more works of art I noticed inside the library. Enjoy
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.