Alexandria is so lovely. We stayed at the Cecil Hotel, which is elegant and very famous. Lots of famous .historical figures have stayed there (Jimmy Carter, Elvis Presley, many others). Our room had a fresh rose in a vase on the table in it J The Cecil is right on the Mediterranean. Our room had a little balcony from which you can see the sea (and incidentally, put your clothes to dry), and there’s a very good open-air Asian restaurant on the roof. We ate there last night. They have sushi, Thai, and Chinese food. A little pricey compared to the other places we normally eat (but we don’t usually go to nice places unless it’s a group dinner, meaning that the cost is included in what we are paying for the trip) but not compared to restaurants in the States.
The Corniche is this road that runs all the way down the coast in Alexandria. The Cecil is on it, as is the library of Alexandria and many other historical sites as well as lots of nice restaurants and shops. All these books about Egypt I’ve read, novels and things mention these places like the Cecil Hotel and the Corniche and the Omar Khayyam Hotel and this patisserie next to the Cecil and these other places in Cairo and it’s just so cool to go to them. This book we had to read for the class is a memoir written by an Egyptian woman. In it, she went for ice cream at this patisserie during summers in Alexandria and we went there too. Incidentally, while Aswan and Luxor are considered winter vacations spots for wealthy Egyptians, Alexandria is a summer one. OMG the weather has been wonderful. Yesterday, Monday June 7, was a completely free day (a deviation from the itinerary, yes). It was great. In the morning, a group of us took taxis to the mall, which is huge and underneath the Four Seasons hotel off the Corniche. It was very upper class. We shopped a little but most of us didn’t buy anything. Prices were really high—300 LE for a single shirt (about $55). There were some shops that only sold scarves, which I guess is reasonable since women wear them every single day. There are even fewer unveiled women here than in Cairo and a lot more women wearing the big black things over their clothes with their faces covered (sometimes even the eyes are covered with black mesh panels in the veil over the face) and with black gloves. I don’t remember what the exact term for that kind of dress is—we just call it veiling but there are many Arabic words for the different kinds of veiling and ways women wrap their scarves. In the late afternoon, we went to a beach. You had to pay four pounds to get in, but there wasn’t any trash on the beach and there were chairs and umbrellas and lifeguards. I wore my swim suit under my clothes but brought an extra shirt and a big pair of shorts I’ve been sleeping in. I didn’t know if it would be kosher for us to be there in swim suits—it was a public beach—and I’m glad I brought the extra clothes. There were no adult women swimming, and very few men. Mostly children were swimming, and mostly the girls wore shirts and shorts into the water. All of us ladies wore big shirts over our suits. Even so, we attracted some creeper peepers, some guys who sat on the wall above the beach, the short wall on the ocean side of the Corniche. Also there were a couple of guys who came and sat close to us but who weren’t swimming and didn’t seem to be with anybody, who I think were creeping on us too. We had a great time, but damn it was weird. And Mallory and I and this really weird guy on the trip who I initially thought was just kind of shy and socially handicapped but who’s actually just an asshole got ahead of the group when we were waling to the beach along the Corniche. We came upon this big group of young guys. Mallory and I looked at each other and went “oh shit.” We slowed down a bit and gave the guys in our group behind us meaningful looks. However, the group of Egyptian guys slowed as well and we met them before our guys got there. Sooo uncomfortable. They were kind of in our faces, so eventually I put my arm through the creepy asshole guy’s arm and then they left us alone. And then our guys caught up. Ugh. The creepy guy has BO and ugh. Not fun. And on the way back to the hotel, I was wearing a long, loose skirt and this huge XXL t-shirt that I have been sleeping in over my swim suit and walking with another guy, but I still got some looks and things. What the hell? Why do guys think they can treat us like this? Yeah, women in Western movies are often promiscuous, but everyone, even children know that movies are not real life.
It’s really getting old though. I want to feel comfortable going everywhere without a man, let alone by myself, and I want to not be hassleed by people trying to sell me things, especially people who sometimes ignore my “no, thank you” until whatever guy I’m with repeats it.
I love this trip and being here and everything, but I miss home. How can people do entire semesters abroad? I don’t think I could.