Sunday, February 10, 2008

Oh the library at Alexandria? Yeah, it's pretty tight.

We just got back from Alexandria last night. By we, I mean 120 of us from AUC who signed up for the trip. I have to give our bus drivers a huge round of applause for getting those enormous buses through tiny streets in Alexandria and Cairo. I think they must have some Harry Potter-like apparatus built in for magical maneuvering.

'Alex,' as they say here, was amazing. We saw the catacombs, Pompeii's pillar (a big column in the middle of nowhere that was actually built for Diocletian), a giant fortress built in the 1400s, and the new library. My favorites were the fort and the library. The fort is built on a rocky outcrop over the Mediterranean. Even though it was a hot day, the fort was cool inside, and there were about four stories to ramble through with windows to look out at the city and the sea. The fort came with all the usual accouterments: slit above the main gate to pour burning hot oil on invaders, slanted windows to shoot arrows from, a really bad-ass view of the know, just like my house back home.

The fort was my favorite spot, but the library was also extremely cool. The architecture is very modern, and the outside is covered with letters and symbols apparently from every alphabet in the world. You can't check things out from the library (it's for reference only), but there's a museum and art gallery inside you can visit as well as look at the gorgeous architecture. Most depressing moment of the trip: there were copies of the Babysitter's Club in the library at Alexandria. I would have vetoed that, but for some reason nobody asked me to be on the official book-selection committee. Oh well.

On Friday night after we were done seeing all the monuments (Friday is like Saturday here, because the weekend is Friday-Saturday), a bunch of us went to a cafe to get tea, then poked through fabulously gaudy souvenir shops and got ice cream. Egypt has dry counties, but the country itself is not dry, and throughout the large cities you can find a sketchy liquor chain called Drinkie's. We stopped at the liquor store, bought a few bottles of wine, and headed down to the beach. The wine kind of tasted like a mixture of cough syrup and grape juice, but I think drinking sketchy wine on the Mediterranean is still a pretty great way to celebrate your 21st birthday. Thanks to all for the birthday wishes. They really made me feel loved, and like there was less than an ocean, a giant sea, and part of a continent separating me from everyone.

Pictures: the whole album is on facebook under the same title as this post, but here's a preview.


Natalie said...

i'm so glad you had a good birthday!!! i miss you!!