Alexandria, Egypt – Corniche Walk

This weekend, I had a few hours to spare for a walk along the seaside in Alexandria, Egypt.  This was one of those destination-free, wandering walks you do because you need a recharge – a change of scenery to help decompress after dealing all week with the challenges of a big project.  I got exactly what I needed out of this and I have to share with you that a lot of it has to do with the local Egyptians.

I don’t recall ever being anywhere else with more friendly, engaging people.  Being a light-skinned guy with a big, red, fluffy beard, I don’t exactly blend in; the locals recognize immediately that I’m not from around here.  In some countries, that can prove to be problematic as the global media-fueled sentiment toward Americans often misrepresents the majority by constantly propagating the impressions of the minority.  Pause there and I’ll share with you something that I’ve learned from traveling the world since a small boy:  No matter your religion, skin color, socioeconomic status, political affiliations, or geographic ties, most people in this world only want to live in peace, with a roof over their head, some food in their belly, good health, good friends, a loving family, and some sense of security about their existence.  In those things, I find it easy to share this common ground with all the many wonderful people of this world.  The Egyptians seem to have a keen awareness and appreciation for this.  A single smile shot in their direction and they’re happy to engage you in conversation.  Nowhere else have I been asked by more strangers to sit with them to share a cup of tea or a meal.  These warm souls in the sunny home of the Great Pyramids are the epitome of old-world hospitality.

Walking down the boardwalk on this lazy Friday evening, a number of the local people came up to introduce themselves to me and the guys with whom I’m working.  All together, we represent the United States of America, Brasil, and Norway.  These boys were eager to know where we’re from, and what we think of Egypt.  This evolved into everyone taking numerous group photos – they love their selfies with the compulsory selfie-stick.  As we meandered down a jetty that juts out into the Mediterranean, our entourage walked along with us.   At each place we stopped, they wanted to take more group photos.  This activity resulted in some older boys coming alongside to get in on the action.

iPhone 6+
iPhone 6+

Out of curiosity, I was watching the people near to our little commotion and took notice of how carefully they studied our interaction.  One in particular, an older gentleman, was keen to see how we handled this friendly assault on our foreigner’s bubble.  Fortunately, the men I’m traveling with are all good natured and as equally pleased to make their acquaintance with the people of the country in which they’re traveling.  We had a good time with these young men and I sensed they, too, were happy about our spontaneous meeting.  After our band of little brothers had dissipated, this older gentleman who had been watching us approached with purposed steps.  He didn’t speak any English but his facial expressions didn’t require any words to communicate to us that we had won his approval.  He then politely motioned for me to take a photo of him with my buddy, Nathan, from Texas.

Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake
Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake

 

The whole experience proved to be the most agreeable and pleasant distraction that I was hoping to find.  More than that, we all were given a memory of each other that stands to perhaps challenge any previously held notions of what the other was like.  This was Nathan’s first trip outside of the United States so I’m overjoyed that he’s had such an experience to take home with him; you can’t buy that in a gift shop.  Media tries so hard to be louder than truth/reality but the unmatched affect of a single interaction between two people has the power within itself to uproot these campaigns against good will and peace.

 

Two men perched atop the jetty patiently wait for their reward to tug at the end of the line.  This jetty seemed to be the favorite spot for this activity.

Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake
Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake

 

Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake
Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake

We walked back to the boardwalk and continued along its path, passing by a group of men on the beach who worked at a shop that refinishes small boats.  As we passed by, they shouted a “Welcome to Egypt” followed by inquiries about where we were from.  After our brief conversation, they asked me to take their picture.

Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake
Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake

A few paces further we were engaged by the “Boss”.  He was a happy man who seemed to have won the hearts of his workers.  All the men there had a light spirit about their work and their working together.  The Boss asked me to take his picture as well.  One of his employees snuck up behind him to give him some antlers.  The Boss tells me that this guy is crazy as he throws an approving arm over his shoulder.

Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake
Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake

 

A minute or two further down the boardwalk, this guy stops us for pictures and brief conversation.

iPhone 6+
iPhone 6+

Further along the boardwalk we found a path that led down to a cafe in a small bay.  Tea, coffee, and shisha (tobacco) smoked in hookas were the popular choice among its patrons.  The coals used in the hookas come from a fire box such as this.  When a hooka needs fresh coals, the waiter will transport them between the firebox and the table with these ornately decorated metal containers.

Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake
Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake

Quintessential Egyptian reliefs are stamped into the body of the coal vessels.

Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake
Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake

 

Long, dark shadows along the bay as the sun made its final appeal for daylight in Alexandria.

Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake
Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake

From there we walked to a restaurant which overlooks that bay.  After having a nice meal out on the restaurant’s open patio, it was time to call it a night.

While waiting for our ride to arrive, I grabbed these last two shots of this remarkable city’s busy road along the seaside.

Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake
Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake

 

Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake
Sony A7RII w/ Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2 Pancake

 

I sure do hope you enjoyed this evening’s post.  It was a pleasure recalling this recent experience in order to share it with you.  I hope, too, that it leaves with you a taste of the impressions that may be made and had when you explore this great big rock we all live on.  Thank you Alexandria, Egypt for the memories of your people’s kind and inviting ways.

Peace to you and many blessings,

Tom

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19 thoughts on “Alexandria, Egypt – Corniche Walk

  1. What a beautiful post. I’m so glad that you’ve had such a wonderful experience there. I truly enjoyed this post more than any other, so far! (And I love them all.) Excellent words and love the photos!

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  2. Aloha Tom, I enjoyed reading your post and looking at the photos. That Minolta MD 45mm f2 proves to be a very useful lens!
    I also liked how you sharing your goodwill as the people of Egypt share theirs.

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  3. Thanks Jon. I’m glad you enjoyed this one. I hope things have been going well for you.

    About that 45mm: I’ve fooled around with it in the past but I’ve never taken it with me on the road. Turns out, it’s quite the little gem. It’s so small and discrete that I don’t feel at all uncomfortable showcasing it on my de-badged camera while walking around town. It’s sharp, and quite resistant to flare. I also like the color from it. I’m not sure how to describe it. I wouldn’t call it vibrant… maybe just very real looking and accurate. Gives you a lot of room to play with in Photoshop. My only complaint with it – if forced to admit one – is the minimum focusing distance is a tad long; it’s a full arm’s length. We’re it closer to 10-12″ I’d call it a perfect lens for walkabouts. Anywho… see if you can pick one up bud. I think I paid $10 for mine. If you were closer to home I’d just give you one (have two of these).

    Tom

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  4. Thanks Hun. I really enjoyed writing this one. The whole time I was working on it, I couldn’t wait for you to read it and see the photos.

    Love you

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  5. Tom, It is always fun to read your blog and the pictures of course. This is one lens apart from the 50/1.2 that has eluded me so far. How do you debadge a camera? Is it just to prevent theft?

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  6. Tommy…I love the photos of the people you met…so great to see that. But even more…you are being a true “US American” who loves people everywhere and treats all of them with respect and love! I know the motivation for you to do this is from God…but at the same time I know our times together, when you were younger and when we lived in Germany, helped you to learn that ALL PEOPLE deserve love and kindness!! Dad

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  7. Enjoyed your sharing of the people of Egypt’s hospitality! Interesting timing…. I just finished watching a Netflix series called “Egypt”…. about it’s history of the discovery of the tombs… deciphering hyroglyphics, etc… very interesting indeed!
    Glad your experiences there were all positive. Worry about you in some of the places you end up in in light of the climate of the world today.

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  8. Hi Tom. Excellent narrative along with magnificent images detailing what clearly was a very pleasant walk.
    Thank you for keeping Out for 30 such a pleasant read.

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  9. Thanks Dad. You’re right about my reasons and I definitely think living in Europe helped a younger me understand and appreciate the variety of people and cultures this world offers. Thanks for that exposure!

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  10. Hi Wes. I’ll have to look up that series and give it a watch when I get home. One of my daughters is really fascinated with Egypt and that show might be just the thing for her. It is a fascinating country with a long, deep history. I hope this weekend I’ll get to go have a walk around the pyramids. I typically avoid the super touristy spots but how can I come to Egypt, in Cairo, within view of them, and not go to see them? I’ll yield my crowd-avoidance mentality for a closer look. They are much bigger than I imagined.

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  11. Thanks Nino,

    I try always to keep Outfor30 a pleasant pitstop. I aspire to have a website that people come to when they just need to push away from work and the busyness of life for a quiet moment of interest in what lies beyond the four walls we’re often stuck behind. Your comments are an encouragement to that effort.

    Cheers,
    Tom

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  12. Thank you my friend! I hope of I’ve done a good enough job of showing the rest of the world what an amazing place your country really is to be.

    Cheers,

    Tom

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  13. Son, as always, you bless our hearts! This is beautiful! I’m so grateful that you share your travels with us. Your perception is spot on and I know you have left a lasting impression on the hearts of those you met. We love you!
    Mom & Dad B

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  14. Yes, you couldn’t be there without seeing them! In these series on Netflix, one of the episodes is on the man who learned to decipher hieroglyphics- in the early 1800’s…. before him, we had no way of understanding all of ancient Egypt’s secrets- it’s history. Really fascinating.

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  15. Fab pics of Alex. Unusual that you did not mind, at least then, the Egyptian concept of personal space boundaries! Many touristd enjoy the “Welcome to Egypt” stuff at first, until it quickly grates. Another gem is the street hustler’s “you walk like an Egyptian” or the classic, “what is time?”

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  16. Hi alibey,

    Thanks for stopping by OutFor30. I’m glad you’ve found some things of interest here. Alexandria is a very interesting city to mosey around with a camera. The personal space boundaries are indeed different from what I’m used to but I’ve not been bothered by it at all. Having travelled a great deal in Asia where space is not an option, at least in Egypt what portion of bubble that is invaded is intentionally friendly – I can live with that. I find, too, that the more I interact with the people here, the more I appreciate the culture. It never ceases to amaze me how open the people are to interact with a perfect stranger from another country. And I thought we were friendly in the South (southern U.S.).

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  17. thx for the quick reply. i am currently in fla (east coast). going to gouna and parts south in sept. i want to take * cough cough * david lean quality pics of the red sea and the desert and bedouin while there. i am nothing but but an android camera person right now. i have all summer to learn real photgraphy. that english fellow you mentioned has a book on digital cameras, but it seems to be all pics and not much instruction. i hate to do this, but can you recommend a good sturdy and el cheapo (under 2 or 300 hundred dollars) cam that will make my blog sing when I go over and take my red sea pics (I really want to bring out the copper and red of the moutnains, which I rarely see in the pics I see taken there)! or is it the lens that i have to be concnerned about? sorry for the really basic level of these questions, and no worries if you do not have the time to answer them. by the way i just learned a new from your blog: bokeh. i thought you were trying to type bouquet!

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  18. Hi alibey,

    A good question regarding a camera. My opinion is that the camera in modern smartphones is so good that unless you want to go all-in for a dedicated camera, it really is among the best options. As far as capturing those glorious reds and oranges, you can certainly achieve this with a smartphone. The default camera app may lack the controls you need but there are many choices available for apps that offer finer control of exposure and focus. A smartphone, like the iPhone, that offers RAW output instead of just JPG would be the very best way to go as it will give you more latitude in post-processing to adjust and correct the color and tone of the image. All the iPhone photos I’ve posted to OutFor30 have undergone post-processing in Photoshop running on a laptop. The data is certainly there to work with it’s just taking the few extra steps to capitalize on it. Camera aside, the most important thing is composition. An excellent composition of an interesting subject can always afford to have a few flaws in exposure/color/focus. If you study the works of history’s best-regarded photographers, you will find that they were famous for what they photographed, more than how (some exceptions like Ansel Adams). Read some critiques of these images and you’ll see the focus of their celebration is less about the technical aspects and more to do with the composition and subject and the mood/feel which results. You seem like a cerebral man who would enjoy digesting book which approaches the subject of composition in deeper context. Look for ‘The Photographer’s Eye’, by Michael Freeman. Amazon sells it in print for less than $5. There are many books about composition but I’ve found this one to be engaging on a different level from its peers as it approaches the subject not just with regard to it artistically but also psychologically. Since one of the main purposes of image making is the communication of an idea or feeling, a better understanding of visual comprehension will help us better accomplish this.

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