TRAVEL THERE: ALEX OVERTURE VIA HORSE & BUGGY
Stepping out of The Cecil on our way to the famous Library of Alexandria, we met Rom. He was waiting at the curb to offer us the services of his horse and carriage, which they call hantoor in Egypt. The day was gorgeous – just right for taking a ride in an open buggy. To my delight Bill was able to make a good deal with him and soon we were gliding around the streets of Alex as the horse’s hooves clip-clopped along.
First to Fort Qaitby
Since the hotel was situated pretty much in the middle of most everything we wanted to see, we had planned on walking to most of the attractions on my list. However, there were a few I wasn’t sure we could make it to on foot. Fort Qaitby was one of them. Located on a small peninsula near the ancient site of the Pharos Lighthouse, Fort Qaitby was the end of the line for Alex’s Corniche, the beautiful sandy crescent of beach along the Mediterranean.
Since the Fort was 2-3 miles away, it wasn’t that we couldn’t walk there, I was just concerned about taking the time to do so when there were so many other things I wanted to see. Rom seated us in his buggy and took off for the fort. This is a big time tourist locale, so there was a shopping opportunity and also a small museum inside the old English fort. I was tempted to go in, because I love all museums, but with the Library of Alexandria calling for me, I managed to drag myself away.
We’d seen everything I was interested in seeing in just a few minutes, but then we stumbled onto a group of fishermen throwing their lines into the sea from a rocky beach on the other side of the Corniche. Bill was fascinated. Alex used to be a place he came on vacation and the coastal activities, like fishing and eating at fish restaurants were one of his favorite memories. I reined in my urgency to get to the library and relished Bill’s childlike delight in the fishermen, the birds, curious cats and crashing waves. Here’s a few pictures from our time near the fort.
Too Much of a Good Thing
After the Fort, Rom drove through a whole lot more of the rest of the city than we actually wanted to see. It started out pretty well. We were in the downtown area, where we got out and took pictures along the Corniche. We saw Kom al-Dikka, some Roman ruins I’d wanted to visit, but knew we wouldn’t have much time for. It was a great overview of the city.
Then we got into some of the residential areas and that wasn’t quite so pretty. Alex is a city whose time has past. While there are a few areas where there are new developments and hotels, most of it is old, peeling and falling apart. There’s plenty of beautiful historic areas to enjoy also. However, once you get off the main drags, things get a little scary. The charm is completely worn off and the residents look at you with narrowed eyes, as if to say, “What in the hell are you doing here?”
We finally convinced Rom we’d seen all we needed to see. He clicked his tongue and slapped the reins, heading towards the Library. With the exception of the run down residential area, it had been a wonderful morning, but unfortunately, the ghetto was not the only ugly thing we were going to see that day. When we arrived at the Library, Mr. Nice Guy Rom turned into somebody else. He hit Bill up for a lot more money than we’d agreed to pay him for the tour. A small disagreement erupted. Bill paid the amount he’d agreed to and walked away, leaving a very angry Rom. Apparently we had not committed too serious of an infraction. We saw him later in the day and he greeted us like we were his long lost friends.
That’s all for today. Come back next week and visit the library with us! In the meantime, enjoy some of the sites we saw on our tour.
2 thoughts on “Rom & the Hantoor Tour”
A tour of the city by horse and buggy or trolley always gives a nice overview and then if there is time, you can go back to your favorite spots. We had a similar experience in Jamaica with a guide who felt he had a bonus coming to him for all the extra information he had shared. We didn’t pay extra either.
I felt sorry for the people in general who are so hard-pressed to make ends meet, but we just couldn’t encourage that sort of sneaky behavior.