Again on the bus, we go down to the Sphynx. It may seem silly to have to get on the bus to do these things, but the distances are quite long -- everything, including the space between, is on a collossal scale.
Then we're facing the Sphynx. What can I say? It didn't ask me any riddles, but it is, itself, a riddle -- beautiful, silent and a witness to the ages. Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, and Napoleon all stood where I'm standing, looking at this wonder. A fitting end to our Eqyptian experience.
Back to the lovely Mena House Oberai hotel for a wonderful lunch -- best meal of the trip. They hummus, baba ganoush, squash stuffed with tabouli, and local beer. I am drinking Omar Kayyahm wine. Another vegetarian woman and I rejoice over all the delicious veggie choices. Wonderful olives, too. Our cartouches arrive, and they're even better than we expected. Hooray!
Back on the bus for the 3 hour drive to Alexandria. We pass a lot of sahara (desert) and rich farmland again. Egypt built irrigation canals to move the fertile land further away from the Nile, because the Nile banks are being urbanized. On the road, we see conical structures, like 15 foot high clay beehives, which Lamia says are dovecotes, for raising pigeons, which Egyptians regard as a delicacy -- squab.
Everyone is jazzed when our bus passes a small pickup truck with two (yes, two) full-grown camels in the truckbed. They are lying down, looking around and putting their noses in the wind, just like overgrown dogs, enjoying the breeze and the rest. The whole bus laughed out loud.
We also saw many thin, cylindrical smoke stacks, seeming to come out of the ground, which Lamia said were brick factories. Much of the building in the countryside is brick, and Lamia said earthquakes were very rare, which is probably a good thing. We drive a bit through Alexandria, a very modern city, and past the new library, which I would love to see, but alas, we're out of time.
Back on the ship, Richard and I, though exhausted, go for a swim to ease our aching backs and legs. My whole right side is sore from my "dismount" from Moses the camel. While we're in the lovely pool, another passenger tells us the gossip. A man (apparently not from our ship) had a heart attack at the Giza Pyramids, witnessed by one of the day tours, and a lady broke her hip and a local ambulance had to be called. Yesterday's day tours were 3 hours late getting back on the ship, and so it was late going through the Suez canal, and late getting to Alexandria, which messed up the morning tours. None of this affected us, of course, but it did remind us that even in this idyllic life, stuff happens.
A blessed sea day. I begin writing this and catchin up with e-mail and onboard friends. We had a "frequent floater" party, the champagne winner for most days cruising with Princess had over 1100 days! The Production show "Words and Music" was excellent, but Richard missed it, because he felt ill, and went to bed right after dinner. He seems to have caught a cold.
Another sea day. One of the delights of cruising is sailing past lovely views, and we leave the Mediterranean to enter the Straits of Messina and the Tirrenian Sea. We are sailing between the southern shore of Italy (the sole of the boot) and Sicily, past the volcanic area containing Mount Etna and Stromboli, which looks like it's name, "anthill." But the anthill erupted in February 2007, and it's belching great puffs of smoke now. Half the island of Stromboli is populated, and frequently evacuated. But for now, all is quiet on the volcanic front.
Tomorrow ends the first segment of the cruise -- we'll be back in Civitavecchia/Rome and we're planning to take the train with Mark and Linda. Richard has been in bed and having room service chicken soup all day, so I don't know if he'll make it off the ship tomorrow.