Yesterday, we went to the Alexandria Citadel, an ancient and very beautiful fortress.
It is believed to be constructed on the site of the old lighthouse, using pieces from it.
The architecture is remarkable, all white and golden-colored limestone, with palm boughs interspersed between the stones to bear the shock during earthquakes. This is what has allowed the Citadel to stick around far longer than the original lighthouse. I am constantly amazed at the ingenuity of ancient designs, but it always sounds a little silly in the end. Duh, only in the modern era could things exist like math and buildings that don’t fall down.
It’d be really cool to shoot a movie here. Lots of rippling fabrics, gnashing metal and stark looks into the horizon. A little like The Fall with a lot of people running very quietly.
Because the Citadel is out in the harbor on a narrow strip of land, the views from all sides are spectacular. I got a little carried away finding windows through which to take pictures…
You can almost see the men and women of the Citadel’s most illustrious age, searching the infinite water for enemy ships and witnessing the future metropolis take shape and flourish. Such depth of history here.
The cage is over a well down into the bowels of the castle, deep under the fortress. It seems like people might have put a ladder there to climb up and down, but I can think of a few other uses. Maybe it was reserved for the celebrated game of “How far can we get this rotten tomato to splat on the walls.”
Near to here, two Egyptian guys were trying to flirt with us. They asked us where we are from and we gave our stock ambiguous answer, “America.” One got excited and said, “Me also! Behind train station!” Nervous laughter from both sides… I guess this was his way of saying “America is cool with me, yo.”
After the Citadel, we went for lunch at Fish Market, a famous seafood restaurant right on the bay. We had the obligatory baba ghanoush, tahini, garlic yogurt sauce (my favorite) and country bread. Then, we sampled prawns, brined herring, crab, and sea bream. Everything was very fresh and very, very tasty.
This was a bit of an adventure. The sea-bream came bones-in, though most of the scales had been scraped off. We each undertook the delicate task of separating flesh from bone, sometimes made very easy by the tenderness of the meat. The aromas were quite delicate and the flavor of the fish came through quite nicely without edging into overly fish-y territory. I am especially a fan of the cheek meat– very moist and tender. The program trainee dared me to eat the eye, too, which I did. Not too remarkable, just slightly chalky and chewy. I had bad memories of being super grossed out by the mackerel eyes when we’d have them in Holland when I was little, something about the way fish eyes turn completely white when it’s cooked, but it’s not so bad now.
the view from the restaurant