Egypt was the next destination on my intrepid journey, and involved travelling from Aqaba, on the Gulf of Aquaba, to Nuweiba in Egypt. There are several options, but mainly travelling overland or by ferry. Yurika and I decided to take the three hour ferry (that takes seven hours) with the first challenge being getting to Aqaba Port without being swindled by the taxi drivers who routinely double the taxi rate for ‘foreigners’ who they think won’t notice…
The ferry route (you can check out the times and prices on the AB Maritime website) is well known for experiencing delays at either end, but despite our own delay our experience was rather positive. I enjoyed the time relaxing, taking photos of the turquoise blue water and the passing coast of Saudi Arabia and Egypt while Yurika killed the time making me origami.
After a late night arrival, taxi ride and comfortable sleep at the budget minded Soft Beach Resort, we woke to find that Nuweiba is a super relaxing place (far from the development which has engulfed many other seaside villages) consisting of roaming camels, small holiday camps and the ever present rubbish. With the Gulf of Aquaba only being 10km in width in places you can see clear across to Saudi Arabia, although the coast is primarily desert with the odd port or oil refinery.
After a few days relaxing in the late July sun Yurika and myself decided we wanted to venture across the great desert that is the Sinai Peninsula to get to our next destination, Suez, just as Lawrence did some 90 years earlier (although our trip was completed significantly quicker and not by camel back).
The city of Suez lies adjacent to the southern entrance to the 140 year old Suez Canal. For those pub quiz buffs the canal is a 160km long link between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, cutting right across the western edge of the Sinai Desert.
I had been interested in shipping and wanted to one day complete an ocean voyage aboard a container ship so seeing the Suez canal up close was on my bucket list! In a strange way, it’s fascinating to just sit and watch these massive vessels slowly cruise by one after the other. One of the more dramatic I saw was a 330m Qatar owned LNG tanker glides past with its volatile and valuable cargo of Liquefied Natural Gas. You’re not meant to take photos of the vessels as they pass, apparently for security reasons, but of course “anything is possible with baksheesh” to the security guard…
This is the only thing major attraction in Suez, many travellers would bypass Suez, but considering my particular interest in shipping I was glad we came. The Hanjin vessel pictured is similar to the vessel my father and I will be going on from Barcelona to Singapore in six weeks’ time, and yes it’ll be transiting through Suez so I’ll be back here soon, but next time places will be reversed; I’ll be the one looking back at those paying bribes (baksheesh) to be able to take photos as I had too.
From the city of Suez we would then take a local bus and venture to the coastal city of Alexandria, a city supposedly founded by the great Macedonian Army General himself; Alexander The Great. I was rather impressed with Alexandria, it seems like a first class city, a true coastal city (far longer than it is wide) with an attractive corniche and a bright and lively population as they should be seeing they live in Egypt’s paradise.
In all honestly I came to Alexandria to see it and to be able to say I’d been here, but also to see the following…The new Alexandrina Bibliotheca; an attempt to duplicate the original ancient library which was considered the finest of its time. Of particular interest to me was the fact the guide book referred to it as “resembling the outside of the Death Star” because the outer stone wall is engraved with at least one symbol, hieroglyph or pictogram from every known language. I can recommend visiting Alexandria if you’re in Egypt or the Middle East, but for now my next intrepid destination is Cairo, the Pyramids and South to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings and Queens.