This is the Corniche, the famous road that runs along the Mediterranean side of the city of Alexandria.
When you say “Corniche” people immediately think of two things: the seaside view and the crazy traffic. The street is very famous and often quite picturesque, especially from the older parts of the city. You get a real sense of Alexandria as a whole when you watch it zoom by from a microbus or taxi window. There are cafes and restaurants, car dealerships, corner stores, pharmacies, even a playground for children along this stretch, all facing the scintillating blue Mediterranean. The walls that line some of the stretch are covered in graffiti, much of which speaks about the revolution–“F*ck the Police”, portraits of martyrs of Tahrir, “We are all Egyptian: Christians and Muslims.”
The traffic is crazy. One day we were too late to take the tram to school in the morning, so we hailed a cab along Abu Queir Street, which runs parallel along the Corniche. I told the driver, “Gama’at Askanderia” (Alexandria University) and he nodded. Looking at my watch, I asked “Mumkin 3alalCorniche?” (“Is it possible to use the Corniche?”) because I knew it would be faster, to which the driver nodded again with a knowing smirk. Maybe he overestimated the rush we were in, because immediately he started a wild race through traffic, weaving and dodging between buses, cars and motorcycles like some white-knuckled game of chicken. The man was clearly an expert, since he saw spaces to squeeze into between vehicles that I would have missed had we been at a slow crawl, all while maintaining a near-suicidal speed of at least 60 miles per hour in the middle of massive congestion. Somehow, even with traffic, we made it to the university in seven minutes, half the usual time, even though we got out of the car ashen-faced and gasping, just happy to have solid ground beneath our feet. I’ll stick to the tram, thanks.