Since we had plenty of time to take in the Cairo sights, we decided to spend one of our days on a mini-road trip to the city of Alexandria, which sits on the coast of the Mediterranean. Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC and over its illustrious years was home to the ancient lighthouse, famed library and, of course, Cleopatra.
Today, you can tour the new library, which is a beautiful sight if you’re a bibliophile like me, stroll along turquoise waters and gorge on delicious, freshly caught seafood. After spending some time in the urban (read: supremely polluted) air of Cairo, it was nice to breathe in some brisk sea air and experience the decidedly more Mediterranean feel of the coastal city.
For our one meal in Alexandria, we knew that we had to get seafood, so after some online sleuthing, we walked up to what looked like a seafood market to see about getting lunch. After a little initial confusion, and lots of help from my Arabic-speaking sister and brother-in-law, we learned that the way to go about ordering was to point to the fresh seafood we wanted and simply say whether we wanted it grilled or fried. Then, we were whisked through the kitchen, past many bubbling pots filled with fish and aromatics to a hidden dining room in the back.
After almost filling up on a seemingly never-ending supply of Egyptian banchan in the form of hummus, spicy cheese dip, bread, baba ganoush, requisite potato chips (they’re everywhere in Egypt), pickled beets and more, we proceeded to devour a couple of delicious whole-grilled fish and some of the best, sweetest, plumpest shrimp I’ve ever had.
We left Alexandria full and happy, driving down the Cairo–Alexandria desert road as the sun set over the Nile Delta.