[ilds] You don’t have to see the city the way Lawrence Durrell did

Marc Piel marcpiel at interdesign.fr
Sat Dec 15 10:12:28 PST 2007

Yes it certainly is different!!!!
The author forgets to say that sitting on the 
terraced roof of the Cecil is impossible because 
of the horrific smell of the thousands of 40 year 
old cars going up and down the corniche.

slighcl wrote:

> Some additional reading matter on Alexandria renascent.  Perhaps this 
> will hold us while we wait for our subscribing travelers to share their 
> first-person accounts of Egypt 2007?
> And ponder the following:
>>     “You don’t have to see the city the way Lawrence Durrell did,” Mr.
>>     Khaled said, referring to the books’ author. “We’re really
>>     interested in getting them to look at the city in different ways.”
> Fair enough.  But was that not the whole point of seeing the city the 
> way Lawrence Durrell did?
> Charles
> ***
> http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/12/16/travel/16nextstop.html?ref=travel
>> December 16, 2007
>> Next Stop | Alexandria, Egypt
>>   A City of Legend Embarks on a New Journey
>> <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/f/kareem_fahim/index.html?inline=nyt-per>
>> ON a cloudless morning in mid-September, it was not quiet around the 
>> Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the modern disc-shaped library in Cleopatra’s 
>> ancient hometown in Egypt 
>> <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/africa/egypt/overview.html?inline=nyt-geo>. 
>> Outside, students flirted and joked on the edge of a reflecting pool. 
>> Behind them, cars whizzed by on the Corniche, the spruced-up sea road 
>> that hugs the Mediterranean.
>> Inside, a tour guide, a fast-talking young woman wearing a bright 
>> hijab, led a group of tourists into the library’s immense reading 
>> room, stopping on a wooden terrace that looked down onto more 
>> terraces. The sun threw spots of blue and green light onto the floors 
>> through colorful glass as she pointed out the library’s art 
>> <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/art/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier> 
>> galleries, theaters, rare manuscript collections and planetarium, as 
>> well as its more than half a million books.
>> But the thing that caught everyone’s attention was the Espresso Book 
>> Machine in the main reading room. The giant photocopier-like machine 
>> can print, on demand, virtually any book, complete with color covers 
>> and glue bindings in minutes.
>> It is a fitting symbol for Alexandria, a faded metropolis that is 
>> rising again from the sea, one replicated landmark at a time.
>> Situated on the Mediterranean along Egypt’s north coast, Alexandria is 
>> a city of legend. This is where Euclid sired geometry, Aristarchus 
>> deduced that the Earth revolved around the sun (about 18 centuries 
>> before Copernicus) and, of course, the young Alexander the Great 
>> founded the city as his capital in 331 B.C.
>> The city flourished through the 19th century as the hub of Egypt’s 
>> commerce, especially the cotton trade, drawing a cosmopolitan mix of 
>> Greeks, Italians, French, Jews and Levantine Arabs, who brought their 
>> languages, architecture 
>> <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/architecture/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier> 
>> and food. But things had changed by the time of the Suez Crisis in 
>> 1956, when Egypt privatized the Suez Canal, prompting military attacks 
>> by Britain 
>> <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/europe/britain/overview.html?inline=nyt-geo>, 
>> France 
>> <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/europe/france/overview.html?inline=nyt-geo> 
>> and Israel 
>> <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/middle-east/israel/overview.html?inline=nyt-geo>. 
>> In its aftermath, many foreigners left or were expelled from 
>> Alexandria, and the city’s cultural grandeur began to crumble — much 
>> like the ancient part of the city that lies at the bottom of the sea.
>> In recent years, however, efforts by preservationists and the 
>> government to restore the city’s luster have started to bear fruit. 
>> The first sign of Alexandria’s renewal was the Bibliotheca 
>> Alexandrina, the glimmering vision in steel and glass that opened on 
>> the Corniche in 2002.
>> Built near the site of the original Library of Alexandria — perhaps 
>> the ancient world’s greatest, with an unrivaled collection that 
>> included original manuscripts of Euripides 
>> <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/e/euripides/index.html?inline=nyt-per>, 
>> Aeschylus and Sophocles — the Bibliotheca seeks to resurrect that lost 
>> monument with shelf space for eight million books and a massive 
>> granite wall inscribed with what officials say are characters from all 
>> the world’s written languages.
>> Another sign of the city’s resurgence is the sumptuous Four Seasons 
>> Hotel Alexandria. Opened in July, it has 9 restaurants, a large 
>> infinity pool and 118 plush, modern guest rooms, many facing the 
>> Mediterranean.
>> Like many additions in this storied city, the hotel evokes an icon 
>> from the past. The Four Seasons was built on the site of the original 
>> San Stefano Hotel, once Egypt’s reigning grande dame, which was 
>> demolished in the late 1990’s.
>> The hotel was booked all summer. At dusk one evening in September, 
>> American businessmen and Arab tourists sipped wine and smoked 
>> peach-flavored tobacco in Bleu, a hotel patio bar, with a view of the 
>> Eastern Harbor and construction on the beach below.
>> Outside the city, one of the two airports, Borg Al-Arab, is being 
>> expanded to accommodate more passengers. There are now regular flights 
>> from Germany 
>> <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/europe/germany/overview.html?inline=nyt-geo> 
>> and Britain.
>> And there are plans, though still not financed, to restore the city’s 
>> Eastern Harbor with an underwater archaeology 
>> <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/archeology-and-anthropology/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier> 
>> museum, a waterfront promenade and hotels, including one inspired by 
>> the third-century B.C. Pharos lighthouse, whose ruins lie underwater.
>> But even now, despite the big plans and new polish, the city still has 
>> an unvarnished charm. Alexandria has never stopped being a destination 
>> for Egyptians. They summer on its 25 miles of sandy beaches 
>> <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/beaches/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier>, 
>> and picnic in the manicured Shallalat Gardens 
>> <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/gardens/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier>, 
>> which contain remnants of the old city walls. And students, weaned on 
>> a vibrant cafe culture, sip strong coffee and surf the Internet at 
>> Café Trianon, an old French pâtisserie in the bustling Saad Zaghloul 
>> Square.
>> At night, Alexandrians take to the Corniche. Couples relax on the sea 
>> wall, and families line up for ice cream at one of dozens of local 
>> stands. At the eastern end of the Corniche, Fort Qaitbay feels like an 
>> Egyptian Coney Island, with pony rides for the kids and shisha tobacco 
>> pipes for their parents.
>> A young generation of Alexandrians, weary of the nostalgia for the 
>> city’s European past, is also renewing the city in smaller ways. On a 
>> September evening, Mahmoud Khaled, an artist who helps run the 
>> Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum, an exhibition space, talked about 
>> the city’s fledgling artists. “It’s still a small scene,” Mr. Khaled 
>> said, adding that the library had become a cultural magnet. “We get 
>> lots of students.”
>> As he prepared for a new exhibit of Arab artists, he talked about the 
>> popular perception of Alexandria among visitors, which, for many, 
>> continues to be shaped by a set of postwar British novels called “The 
>> Alexandria Quartet.”
>> “You don’t have to see the city the way Lawrence Durrell did,” Mr. 
>> Khaled said, referring to the books’ author. “We’re really interested 
>> in getting them to look at the city in different ways.”
>> A Mediterranean Hot Spot, Again
>> Borg Al-Arab Airport, under an hour’s drive from downtown Alexandria, 
>> is served by a number of carriers, including British Airways, 
>> Lufthansa and Emirates. Flights from America require a connection.
>> From the airport, a taxi ride to downtown should cost 50 to 75 
>> Egyptian pounds, about $9 to $14 at 5.7 pounds to the dollar. 
>> Negotiate first.
>> The Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano (399 El Geish Road; 
>> 20-3-581-8000; www.fourseasons.com <http://www.fourseasons.com>) is 
>> the city’s most upscale hotel, with a luxurious spa 
>> <http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/spas/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier>. 
>> Rooms start at $320.
>> Closer to the city’s sites, the Sofitel Cecil Hotel (16 Saad Zaghloul 
>> Square; 20-3-487-7173; www.sofitel.com <http://www.sofitel.com>), 
>> built in 1929, sits on the Corniche and offers spectacular views of 
>> the Eastern Harbor. Rooms start at 120 euros, $180 at $1.50 to the euro.
>> Café Trianon (52 Saad Zaghloul Street; 20-3-483-5881). On the ground 
>> floor of the restored Metropole hotel, order a cappuccino (8 Egyptian 
>> pounds), the dessert called om ali (18 pounds) and enjoy great views 
>> of city life; the cafe has free Wi-Fi.
>> White and Blue Restaurant (at the end of the Corniche by Fort Qaitbay, 
>> 20-3-480-2690), also known as the Greek Club, is in the Hellenic 
>> Nautical Club. A full dinner including grilled sea bass, served the 
>> Egyptian way (with tomato and basil) or Greek (with potatoes), is 120 
>> pounds.
>> The Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Shatby; 20-3-483-9999; www.bibalex.org 
>> <http://www.bibalex.org>) has daily tours in English, Arabic, French, 
>> Italian and Spanish. Admission to the library is 10 pounds, and 20 for 
>> the museum galleries.
>> Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum (10 Hussein Hassab Street, Flat 6, 
>> Azarita; 20-3-480-4145; www.acafspace.org <http://www.acafspace.org> ) 
>> is a nonprofit exhibition space that showcases emerging Egyptian and 
>> international artists.
> -- 
> **********************
> Charles L. Sligh
> Department of English
> Wake Forest University
> slighcl at wfu.edu
> **********************
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