If you want to find all the guys you don’t want to get involved with on the ship…look no further than muscle beach. Just kidding. But the first week on the ship we couldn’t help but all laugh at all the guys literally out there flexing their stuff right in front of the pool where all the girls lay out. Only some were watching. (Me not included.) Muscle beach is less popular now that every one knows every one and we would rather be sitting with friends and eating food from the snack bar. Occasionally we still witness some quality moves from SAS Summer ‘10’s finest.
What We Typically Eat at the Snack Bar
o Britt: Starburst, Ice Cream, Fanta
o Syd: Caesar Salads, Diet Coke, M&M’s
o Whit: Coke, Nerds Rope
o Aspen: Hot Choclates, Starburst, Veggie Burgers
o Shanley: Twizzlers, Pizza, Popcorn
o Banks: Gatorades
o Court: Doesn’t eat at the snack bar
o Payton: Smoothies, ice cream
Some days at sea we get to have what we call “Pub Nights” and the ship calls “Beverage Service.” We each are given a beverage card and are allowed two drinks of wine or beer at dinner and then three drinks at pub night upstairs. For every drink you have you get a stamp with the date on it. In the beginning we were feeling diabolical and were trying to think of ways to get past this system. Pub nights used to be a great way to mingle and meet people but now we spend most of those nights sitting, eating, playing cards, and enjoying each others company –we could care less about the booze.
On another note, one thing this voyage has taught me (people skills wise) is that when you have no TV or other similar distractions you are forced to sit and TALK. What a concept right? I strongly believe that half the reason I am so close with my new friends on the ship is because we don’t have the option to go to a move together, instead we sit and TALK. And I love it. It has made me so excited to go home and just talk to all my friends that I miss so much.
Top Things I can’t wait to do when I get back home…
- Eat Mexican Food – Mom please bring me a Wahoos burrito to the airport
- Watch the new Still Motion Wedding Videos
- Sleep with ABR
- Start getting work emails again
- Talk with Dad in his office and then go for a ski
- Drink a Dr. Pepper
- Drink wine with Mommy
- Make Loogie watch Say Yes to the Dress with me
- Decorate my new room
- Visit with Grandma
- Start writing from Crème De La Shan again
- Eat fruit from Whole Foods
- Drive my car
Date: August 15th, 2010
Composed: 7th Deck Pool
Sometimes I sit down to write about the last day in port and am ashamed that we really didn’t do much. But I cut myself some slack when I think about how much we got done in the past 4 days and really, in retrospect, the last day is when we do less touristy stuff that actually provides for a great cultural experience.
The first stop of our day was the Library. The Alexandria Library is world famous – one of the biggest in size and one of the most expanisive. Compared to the Boston Public Library (one of my favorite) this library was much more modern – light maple wood floors and furniture with tall bookshelves that lined the back walls of each level of the library. The architecture was kind of set up like a set of stairs – the deepest level of the library is the most bottom floor and just above that the next floor recedes by half and so on. (If that makes sense.) All the different levels sit under this great glass roof that is at a 30 degree angle (making most of the library underground). The glass roof kind of reminded me of the Boulder Public Library, just more modern. I loved the quiet stillness of this place and the fact that it had as much history as the library in Boston but it was portrayed in such a different way. Another cool part – Whitney logged onto her Facebook and changed her status from the Alexandria Library, pretty cool.
After the Library, Whitney, Lindsay and I headed back to the ship to try to hop on an orphanage trip. As we expected, we didn’t get on so Whitney and I went back out into the city to meet up with Britt and Syd. They were at Chilis…and I might have sat down for some fries…but we left right as we got there and went to a grocery store. Getting snacks before we leave from each port is one of our new favorite last day activities. This grocery store was a little bit out of the city center and was HUGE and sold way more than groceries. It sold stove tops, TVs, underwear and even SUITS. We so wanted to buy our pretensious guy friends a suit from an Egyptian grocery store. We wandered aimlessly for a while and ended up upstairs (taking an escalator ramp that could hold carts to get up there) where we saw the bakery – they were making pita bread on a conveyor belt kind of like they do at On The Border, where we used to go with Grandma and Grandpa and we saw the Deli section which was more like a SLAUGHTERHOUSE with whole cows hanging from the ceiling. That was gross. We headed back downstairs now with a mission- they candy section. Britt always stocks up on like $40 worth of chocolate before we get back on the ship. She did not disappoint this time either.
With grocery bags in our hands we headed back to the port – this time it wasn’t that easy. Background info – SAS gives us a green sheet that has all emergency information on it like numbers to get a hold of the dean, 911 info for the current port etc. This green sheet also included a Arabic translation of the name of the port in Alexandria. Much like we had learned to do in Egypt, this was the most efficient way of communicating with the cab drivers. But about 20 min into this cab ride we found out that the translation wasn’t exactly correct. As the 4 of us loaded in, exhausted, ready to get back, the cab driver acted like he knew where he was going but ended up leaning out the window and asking someone. Still unsure, he leaned out his window again, a few cars down and passed the green sheet to another cab driver. Ironically, this cab was also filled with SAS kids using the exact same green sheet. It was pretty funny weaving through traffic in Alex – horns honking, people darting cars – and passing this green sheet back and forth. We did end up getting a little lost, going a completely round about way, and just as Whitney says “We are no where near port, we have 1 hour till we have to be back on the boat, I am getting out” our faithful cabbie miraculously pulls us out of the ghetto and turns us right into port.
We made the long trek over the bridge into the port area just as 3 buses full of SAS kids pulled up. Despite our exhaustion, frustration, and just overall irritation with the heat we booked it back to the boat. See when you come back on the boat security has to search your bag – no matter how big or small. We were not about to be behind 300 kids with luggage from all of Egypt. We ran. At 7:30 pace. And beat the line.
Some days it just feels so good to get home, back to the MV. Ahhh.
In order to wake up early the next morning, we left the blackout curtains in our hotel room open. At 9am we packed up our stuff so we would be ready to checkout by 12. The concierge at our hotel wrote down Kahn El-Kahli in Arabic, which was the only way we would make it to this famous market in Islamic Cairo. We had little intent to buy anything at this bazaar but instead were interested in the old area of Cairo.
I’m so glad we went. We showed our piece of paper to the cab driver and left off on the longest cab ride we had yet – still only about 20 minutes. It was really fascinating to see how modern, urban, Cairo turned into old, historic, Islamic Cairo. The buildings became more homogenous, sort of like what we saw in Alex, less lights, commercial shopping, more mosques. Our cab driver dropped us off at one of the many entrances to Kahn El-Kahli and explained to us that it was both still early and it was also a Friday – in Islam Friday and Saturday are traditionally the days taken off from work. But we weren’t disappointed. Shop owners were lifting their doors, spreading water on the walks in front of their stalls, and already beckoning us to come “look for free.”
Before buying anything we wandered down the bazaar. The merchandise here was still targeted to toursists – very cheap t-shirts, jewelry, etc. Everything was much cheaper here than in Turkey but the quality also seemed poorer. The day got hot quickly, as most days do on the Mediterranean, and as the day got hotter people strangely started to come out of their homes. I guess the Egyptians shop on their days off. Both women and men were out, men manning the shops and darting through the crowd in some kind of a rush, women window shopping and wandering aimlessly – some with bags of who knows what balancing on their heads. They were literally walking around with full trash bags balancing on their heads – I mean did you ever think you actually see that?
This bazaar was also the least touristy of any we had been to, not only in the people who were there but also what they sold. The side isles were like the Islamic Cairo version of Bed Bath and Beyond…okay not that extensive. But it was where the locals bought their domestic goods – T.P. (not that they use it much…), the less modern version of a Swiffer Duster, dish soap, etc. I ended up buying something (not telling it’s a gift) and then we started to wander on the outskirts of the Bazaar. Right outside was a large mosque where men sat outside on carpets chatting. We circled the mosque and wandered by a few other vendors. As we passed a restaurant, a woman stopped us and asked Lindsay to take a picture WITH her daughter. This was something we ran into a lot in Egypt – people wanting to take pictures with Americans. No matter how often it happened we were always taken aback. So Linds took some adorable pictures with the little girls and then we decided to head home – it was too hot and we needed to try to catch a train.
Checking out of the hotel was all too easy and before we knew it we were already back into a cab to go to the train station. There was no website or any schedule that gave us any idea when a train could be leaving to Alex, so we went and winged it. Our cab driver dropped us out what he assured us was a train station. But we were hesitant…this building looked like a huge warehouse that was covered in green mesh tarps. There was no sign outside, no indication that this was a heavily trafficked area. We got out and headed in through the single person wide door and entered into what I guess could be a train station. People directed us to the ticket windows – the lost look on our faces giving us away, as always. Fortunately, an Egyptian woman who has been living in Minneapolis and was here to visit her family stepped up to help us purchase our tickets. Good thing she did or we would have been on a 2:00 train that would have taken 7 hours. Instead we opted to sit in the café at the station and wait till the 4:00 train.
Fortunately we had our books and computers to kill time. We talked, watched a few episodes of Friends, watched Aziz’s comedy special (standard), and drank Cokes. It was rough being stuck in a train station just waiting for four hours with all of Cairo right outside, but we were exhausted and didn’t want to risk missing our train. So we waited. 4pm finally came and we headed to the platform. Confused because all the print on the ticket was in Arabic, we questioned how and where to board our second class carriage. Finally we found some numbers on the ticket and figured it out – getting settled in our assigned seats successfully. A man who had been living in Cairo for the past year but was originally from Rome talked to us about our travels for a while and then passed out. He woke up again as we were almost back to Alex and him and Linds chatted some more. Not surprisingly, the lone traveler asked us to meet him for drinks later but we kindly declined. The cab ride back home was short and easy. We learned that sometimes negotiating a price before hand isn’t going to happen and you just need to get out of the cab, close the door, and hand the driver exact change of what you think is a fair price and walk away. Oh, what seasoned travelers we have become.
As soon as we got back on the boat we met up with the rest of the group who had just gotten back from an SAS trip. We organized a whole group of us to go out in Alex for the last night…first to Mermaid Bar and then to 4 Seasons. As we usually do, we dominated the Mermaid Bar. They didn’t know how to handle so much business. I really enjoyed going out with such a large group – everyone was getting so close yet still making new friends. It’s a sad realization when you only have one port left. Nothing too monumental happened that night…we had a few drinks, went to the 4 Seasons for some dinner and another drink, and then headed home. Tomorrow was our last day in Egypt and we still had a few things to check off our list.