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Postcard from Alexandria: Winter at the beach

Waking up in a hotel room in Alexandria in the winter is a slightly disorienting experience. The common impression of the Mediterranean city seems to be that it’s sleepy and sedated in winter, but a chaotic tourist hell in the summer.

The streets of the city are a traffic inferno during the summer months. Everyone gets stuck for hours trying to reach the different attractions of the city. You are bound to engage in a fight or two on the corniche, and witness topless men walking toward the beach from their rented apartments. The city is also inundated with brief visitors who come from Cairo for late-night outings.

Washed clean by the seasonal winter rains, my recent visit to Alexandria was a pleasant one. I managed to walk in the spotless streets for hours under the rays of the sun. I took a couple of photos of passers-by who aimlessly wander the city and the usual couples holding hands while sitting facing the sea. I jumped from one rock to the other on the sea ridge and ordered myself some hot hummus, garnished with salt, cumin and lime juice.

Leaving my footsteps on the sandy wet beach, I walked calmly listening to Sade’s “Smooth Operator,” eagerly inspecting the surrounding scenery, when I came across two little girls playing on the sand. They picked a dry spot on the sand and sat there, building sand castles with windows, gates and a moat around it. They were visibly content with the sea waves encroaching continuously closer towards them.

I couldn’t help but sit next to them and join in the fun as we finalized the last castle turret. That simple childish pleasure allowed me to feel warm and melted away my sorrows. On the sand, I used my finger to write "Forever Young."

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