weekend away - Alexandria
Written by Aaron T. Rose
Escape to Alexandria, a timeless metropolis that lives in the present, and discover why a trip to Egypt’s second city makes for a first-rate weekend away.
Since its founding by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, Alexandria has been an international cradle of trade, thought, art, and culture. Alexandria is full of dichotomies: it’s vividly modern and mysteriously ancient, excitingly cosmopolitan and reverently Middle Eastern.
Alexandria – the Pearl of the Mediterranean – is situated on Egypt’s north coast in the fertile Nile Delta. Like any great Mediterranean city, Alexandria awakens the senses – with cool breezes, bright colours, and delicious food. The city bursts with life.
Centrally located on the Mediterranean Corniche by the city centre’s Mahattat Ramla, Cecil Hotel serves as a great starting point for any Alexandrian excursion. The hotel harks back to the city’s 19th-century splendour, while a friendly and accommodating staff, the sweeping Mediterranean views, and great dining options provide contemporary comfort.
From here, go west on the Corniche along the harbour to the Anfushi neighbourhood. Here you’ll find dozens of open-air restaurants grilling the day’s catch. With a quaint atmosphere and boisterous staff, Qadoura, a block off the Corniche, is one of the best.
Continuing west along the Corniche, Qaitbay Citadel stands sentinel over the harbour. This 15th-century fortification, built atop the ruins of the ancient Pharos Lighthouse, offers panoramic vistas of the city and the sea.
At dusk, head to the eastern side of Alexandria. During the summer, impromptu cafés pop up all along the breakwater in the Cleopatra neighbourhood, and serve as great places to unwind and enjoy the sunset over the Mediterranean with tea, sheesha, and freshly-squeezed fruit juice.
End your day a few blocks inland at Souk Zananiri. Stalls stretch for kilometres down tight streets, where energetic sellers hawk everything from fresh produce to kitchenware.
Here, you’ll be left with Alexandria’s most endearing quality: its vibrancy.
Planetary alignment at the Giza Pyramids
Before sunrise on December 3, 2012, an uncommon alignment of Mercury, Venus, and Saturn is set to make a vivid appearance over thePyramids of Giza. The planets will appear at a trajectory that will mimic the sloping angle of the three Pyramids. The dramatic skyscape can best be viewed from north-west of the Giza Plateau.
If you’re not lucky enough to make it on December 3, a nightly sound and light show is offered at the Pyramids. It is presented in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Arabic at various times throughout the week.