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Flickr has been improved! Almost all photos on this blog come from my Flickr Photostream. You can now go directly to a page that shows all of my Flickr photo sets by following this link. It's the easiest way to navigate in my on-line photos.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Food, Restaurant Style - by Linda

Food is not the main reason to visit Egypt but for us it is an important part.  You can learn a lot about a culture by experiencing the local food.

We like to try as many different dishes that define Egypt as we can.  Over the years we've learned to try a dish first and then ask what it is. If I hadn't done this I never would have tried a brain sandwich years ago.  I have to admit that it tasted good but after I found out what it was I couldn't eat a second sandwich. The thought was just too much, to say nothing of the texture.

Restaurants are a good place to get an introduction to Egyptian foods.
During this visit we've had the opportunity to eat a variety of foods.

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Fresh salads are a part of nearly every restaurant meal.

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Restaurants typically offer meals of chicken or meat (meat means everything other than chicken).

Egyptian bread is particularly tasty and comes with meals.

Honey served on the hotel breakfast buffet in an interesting and uncommon presentation.

Hotel breakfast buffets offer a plethora of items.

Take a look of this English menu. I'll let it speak for itself. My favorite item is the Pepsi Pottel. Here's a clue--it's not a can.

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This is our order. All three of us had "meat". Two plates of kofta and one lamb shank.

Here we have a roadside cafe offering.  The choices were cheese or meat sandwiches.

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What I like most about this meal is the artful presentation.

It's just vegetables but look at them.  Who wouldn't want to eat everything on this plate?

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This restaurant served my favorite meal of all of them.  It was a rustic looking place with a wonderful covered, elevated patio over-looking the street.  Great location and super food.

Abu Abdullah is the name of this restaurant overlooking a large lake.  We drove an hour to this city to have a peaceful meal with a calming view.

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This restaurant delivered all that and a delicious fish meal for four. The price for all this deliciousness?  $26.50!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Old and New El Alamein

I seldom do enough historical research before we travel to interesting places.  That was the case before we visited el Alamein.  I knew it was a battlefield between the armored units of World War II but not much more.  I only knew that much because a neighbor who was a ninety-year-old veteran who had spent much or the war serving under General George Patton mentioned it.

I anticipated el Alamein to be just a wide spot in a narrow sandy road.  I hadn't read these paragraphs from a recent issue of the magazine/website, Egypt Today.
MARSA MATROUH, Egypt - 1 March 2018: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi inaugurated the first phase of the New Alamein City on Thursday in Marsa Matrouh governorate.
The first phase will include the inauguration of an eco-city. New El Alamein City also will include a national university that'll comprise a number of applied science faculties, an opera house, a library and a museum.

Sisi will also inaugurate a number of projects via video conference.

The city is located on an area of 48,000 feddans (one feddan equals 1.038 acres) in El Alamein town on Egypt's Mediterranean coast and it is designed to include 5,000 housing units to accommodate more than 400,000 inhabitants.
Eco-city?  400,000 inhabitants and an Opera House?  What's this?

We saw the signs for New El-Alamein and many of the coastal residences if not residents.

But where was the old el-Alamein?  Surely there must be something left from what was described this way on one veteran's webpage:
The isolated railway station of El Alamein gave its name to the famous battle which was fought in the desert to the south.

In 1942 there were just a few buildings clustered around the station, tens of miles from any other habitation.
Just east of the new war museum, there was a rusty sign pointing toward "Cairo" via Petrol Road.

I suggested following it.  The beautiful new developments along the Mediterranean quickly faded as the scenery began to match typical small-town Egypt.  After about a half mile, we came to some railroad tracks with a few old buildings and several shops.  Was this the real el-Alamein?

And what about that crumbling building in the distance.  Could it be what is left of the railroad depot from 1942?

Answers had to wait until we returned to Cairo.

There were a few veterans from Britain and Australia that marked the 70th and 75th anniversary of the battles with a return visit.  Here are two showing pictures of the railway station.  Yes, it's the same place.
  (credit to http://www.desertrats.org.uk)


 (credit to Mike Vanderkelen)

 Click on either picture to get to the owner's websites.

 There are a couple of other very interesting photos and drawings of the station here and here.

So the old el-Alamein still exists.  But, see it soon.  I'm not sure it will be preserved.  This villa is being built nearby.  "Modern style," I guess you could call it

As a bonus for your effort, you can have an outstanding lunch at this restaurant on Petrol Road midway between the railroad and the main highway.

El Alamein - The Italian Memorial and Cemetery

The Italian war memorial cemetery is the best marked of all the WWII monument at el Alamein.  A large set of stone arches stands beside the highway at the entrance to this final resting place for 4200 Italians.  There is also a small museum and rest facility.  In the background in this photo, you may notice a small mosque that marks the similarly identified Libyan memorial.

There is Fiat M13/40 tank near the entry to the path leading up to the memorial.

The path is lined with what appear to be individual unit memorials.

This is a very impressive memorial, with individual stones marking the graves, many of them marked "ignoto" (unknown.) and a large number of empty places for other remains that might have turned up during extensive recovery efforts spearheaded by Count Paolo Caccia Dominioni.  A veteran of the battle, Dominioni spent twenty years getting the monument built and the bodies recovered.

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That's a bust of Count Dominioni over on the right side of the picture.

A large portion of the rear of the memorial is devoted to a chapel and the tower holds a large cross.


Back at the entrance portico, there are several memorials including this quote from Rommel.  It is dedicated to the 7th, 8th, 9th and 12th Bersaglieri (Italian light infantry) regiments.  He noted that "The German soldier amazed the world but the Italian Bersaglieri amazed the German soldier."

Also back at the entrance portico there is a small war museum.  It has some excellent maps, regimental flags and quite a bit of weaponry.

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My favorite item in the museum was this six-round clip and cartridges that had obviously spent quite a few years buried in the sand.  Many sources point out that one of the disadvantages suffered by the Italians during WWII was their 1891 bolt action Carcano rifle.  (See this page about the Carcano, also.)  Original clips of this variety in good condition go for about $20-30 on eBay.

If you have read this far in this post, you probably are interested in more information.  There is an excellent story about the Italian monument at this website.  In addition, there is a very good overview of all the el Alamein monuments at this website.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

El-Alamein - The British Commonwealth Cemetery

Not far down the street from the War Museum lies the Commonwealth Cemetery.

The entrance is controlled by a "turnstile" and a policeman.  Three descriptive boards tell the story of the Commonwealth troops and the long battle back and forth.

If you are looking for a particular individual, there is a central registry.
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Any cemetery like this is best visited by stopping at a few grave-sites and reading the names and dates to personalize their sacrifice.


There was an interesting article published in the UK Daily Mail on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the final battle here.  It interweaves memorial visits by veterans with a good battle summary.  I recommend reading the whole article.

I have quite a few more pictures on a Flickr album, most easily reached by clicking on any of the images in this post.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Designs of Egypt II - by Linda

At first glance the patterns and designs of Egypt may not be evident, but they are there just under the surface waiting to be discovered. Look up, look down, look all around and you will see an amazing display of designs.

Click on the image below to see a much larger version where you can also click through to see the original images.



Monday, March 19, 2018

El-Alamein, the War Museum - Part III, the Women

The museum presents brief glimpses of two women who contributed to the Allied war effort.  There is not much more than a couple of pictures and a medal for even the more prominent one.  To get the full story you will need to head to Britain or the Internet.

In 1939 the five-foot Violette Bushell was selling perfume at the Bon Marche before she met French soldier, Etienne Szabbo.  Etienne would die in one of the battles at el Alamein.  Violette was recruited by the Special Operations, was parachuted into France, captured, tortured and executed by the Germans in 1944.  Read more about her at the Violette Szabo Museum website.

The second woman with a picture presented at the museum is Vera Lynn.  Her contributions were more indirect.  Known as the "Forces' Sweetheart" she had recorded The White Cliffs of Dover and the very popular "We'll Meet Again."  She toured entertaining the forces in Egypt during 1944, although I couldn't find a specific location.  She released an album last year (2017) at age 100.

There are many more pictures from the War Museum stored on my Flickr collection in the 2018 el-Alamein War Museum album.