Monday, 31 October 2016

Day 86: Cairo to Hurghada 480km 6.5hours 28°C

We are counting our blessings today.
We are now very thankful that Orlanda wasn't returned to us on Thursday. 
If we had set off on Friday we would have been caught in the extensive flooding on the highway past Ras Gharib to Hurghada.

We readily found our riding rhythm.
We were packed and ready to ride by 7am.
Three cheers for our Garmin. She was working well today as we rode the streets of heliopolis and East Cairo. 
Dick managed the Orlanda very well in the patches of massed  traffic.

There are few traffic lights and no roundabouts. 
Intersection design involves a series of switch backs. Akin to riding the Stelvio pass on flat ground.
Eventually we saw the road sign Hurghada and we enjoyed the ride along the three lane highway through the desert to Ain Sokhna past the sign for the first Chinese city in Egypt to the Red Sea coast. 

Clear air, turquoise sea and too many coastal resorts to count. 
Some bends in the road, a cup of tea, and then many km of straight roads.
Incongruous in the desert we encountered some surface water and some with recently cleared mud. 

Dick had prebooked a hotel south of Hurghada. 
The security guard came out of his office with the mirror used to examine the underside of vehicles. 

A good start to our ride south.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Let's go to Alexandria for lunch

We have had a wonderful day exploring Alexandria. 
It was lovely break from our routine for the last week.

Our motorcycle Orlanda has been in the bond store for a week.
Dick has been working with an agent to comply with all the procedures involved with her liberation."
He has spent more time and money on this border crossing than the total of all other crossings on all our rides.
Time for some light relief today which is Friday, the holy day here.

We decided to hire a car and driver and go to Alexandria which is 220km north on where the Nile delta meets the Mediterranean Sea.  
Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in 331BC and was the capital of Egypt until the Muslim conquest in AD641. The Greek Ptolemaic dynasty was based here; Cleopatra was the last active pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt. She met Julius Caesar in Alexandria in 48BC and died here with Mark Antony  in 30BC and Egypt became part of the Roman Empire.

Alexandria has a maritime climate and was  pleasant 26° for our visit, with gentle sea breezes and  clear blue skies. 

We visited the necropolis( Roman catacombs), the palaces (Built for Muhammed Ali Pasha, founder of modern Egypt), the fortress, the Alexandria library and a seafood restaurant.

According to tradition the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria was established by the apostle Mark around AD42. The Coptic church belongs to the oriental Orthodox family of churches which, since the schism in AD 541, has been a distinct Christian body. 

Egypt was a British protectorate unofficially from1882  (British occupied Egypt during the Anglo-Egypt War) and officially from 1914-1956. The Anglo Egyptian treaty gave Britain the right to station troops here for the defence of the Suez canal and Britain controlled  the training of the Egyptian army. 
After the Egyptian revolution in 1952 the British agreed to withdraw their troops and by mid 1956 had done so. Gamel Abdel Nasser was the first president.   Later in 1956 the British, together with France and Israel went to war with Egypt after  Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal. Egypt won.

We have learned a little about the Suez Canal while we have been in Egypt.
The first canal which linked the Mediterranean to the Red Sea via the Nile  was built by slaves  in the time of Pharaoh Senausrer111, 1887-1849BC. It silted up but was reopened in 610BC and by the Persian king, Darius in 522BC, the Greek Ptolemy in 285BC, and Elass AD 640 following the Islamic conquest. 
De Lesseps was the France consul in Alexandria in 1854 and he rekindled interest in building the canal with the Egyptian viceroy in Said, Pasha. The modern Suez Canal was opened in1869. Verdi was commissioned to compose the opera Aida for the opening event. He didn't finish it in time and Rigoletto was performed instead. 

The corniche at Alexandria runs for many kilometres. Lots of golden beaches border the six lane highway. Early 1900 Apartment buildings with cafes on the footpath on the other side of the road. 

The modern Alexandria library built in 2002 on the site thought to be where the original library was built during the first Ptolemaic dynasty in the third century BC.  That library was destroyed by fire possibly started by the army of Julius Caesar in 48BC and an Aurelian attack in AD270.
The Roman amphitheatre was rediscovered in 1964.
An earthquake in AD365 damaged many buildings in Alexandria.
Some of the artifacts which fell into the sea have been recently recovered and are on display at the open air museum at the Roman amphitheatre in Alexandria.

The line up of some of the sculptures recovered from the harbour and desalinated 

The Roman bathhouse in red brick  and some lecture rooms in the amphitheatre.
A sphinx from Memphis. The Greeks and romans brought limestone sculptures from Giza and Memphis and repurposed them in their own constructions.
Part of the original lighthouse at Alexandria recovered from the harbour. A granite door plinth.

Original mosaics near the odeon. 
The odeon has amazing acoustics. 
I sang 
Te aroha, Te whakapono, Te rangimarie, tatou, tatou e.
(Love, hope and peace be with us all.)
My heart leapt at the unexpected response of a small family group, even before I explained what the song meant.

All of us, everywhere long for
Love, hope and peace.

Dick fetching a pebble from the beach. The destination for the rock is the southern most point we reach in South Africa.
The small boats behind him are rowboats bringing tourists through the bar into the small harbour next to the fifteenth century fortress built on the site of the Alexandria lighthouse.
A group of children having fun playing with a 'pied piper'  were keen to talk to us. The adults urged them to be polite.
"What is your name?" was the persistent question

Seafood lunch. 
Alexandria is a fishing port. 
Sweet crab and mullet with some pipis and squid.
It is the height of the season for guavas, mangos, persimmons and pomegranates.
Mango juice made from fresh mangos is delicious.
Some people make the world a happier place!

Safely home to see the sun setting over the Nile,

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Food in Cairo

Breakfast buffet: tahini, hummus, olives, white cheese, capsicum, pickled aubergine, salad greens and tomato and cucumber

Smoked salmon, chopped onion, capers, egg white, egg yolk, kippers and onions.

Would you like a crepe, madam?

Village bakery.

Lunch - cold Mezze - tabbouleh, hummus, yoghurt and garlic, olives, babganoush, mesh, fresh pita bread with a bowl of deep fried hot Mezze.

Dried corn - soaked for two days and cooked in water and milk with sugar added.
Foul - fava beans with vegetables.

Door to door delivery if the sweet corn and foul.

Whole grain wheat simmered in milk and served with pistachio nuts, sultanas, almonds and icing sugar.
Served at breakfast. I liked it.

 Real fast buffet, smoked salmon, corn, tahini, hummus, pickled vegetables.

Foul with accompaniments - lime segments, chopped tomato, chopped red capsicum, corn and chopped green onions.

Smoked salmon and dill omelet. 

Smoked salmon, sliced cucumber, dill on a cream sim reed with basil, sumac.

Salad nicoise.

Village fruit and vegetable store.

Village bakery.