Nostalgia is a strong emotion that overcomes me when I visit Alexandria, Egypt, where I grew up for a decade and where my parents are from. You want to visit the places that you miss, to see the good old friends, and, most warmly, to eat mama’s cooking.
I like to visit the old Qaitbay Castle, the beautiful, blue Mediterranean sea, and to observe the lovely people in the crowded streets. I try to act as a native but sometimes the tourist side can get the best of me. Here are the reasons why I love visiting this coastal city in the winter:
1 – The weather is super nourishing and you can feel the fresh Mediterranean air – degrees are between 60 – 70 Fahrenheit during the day while the temperature can drop a little by night. You can never find a replacement for this nice spring breeze in February NYC weather.
2 – People are busy and prone to ‘hibernation’ during the winter. Although the sun is out and you could be comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans, the natives tend to dress more on the winter side. Jackets, scarves, and long-sleeved pullovers. I don’t blame them. They get hit by 90 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer. So, it is natural for most people during the winter to feel cold.
3 – During the summer, the streets are filled with higher energy and stress levels than in the winter. By energy level I mean, electricity – air-conditions are used more moderately in winter, and people avoid utilising energy to extreme measures.
4 – Kids are in school and natives are more focused at work, as opposed to the summer, when people are out all day until the late hours of the night.
5 – Traffic is reduced by half. Since Alexandria is considered the go-to summer spot for many cities in Egypt, sometimes it can get too crazy. Natives from Cairo and other cities located in the south, who miss out on the luxury of the blue sea, tend to drive up north and spend time in the coastal city during the months of July and August – it can get quite rowdy.
6 – The tasty Alexandrian homemade ice-cream never melts as fast during the winter. You can enjoy your ice cream without worrying about it making a mess or melting all-over your hands and sleeves.
7 – You can visit tourist locations such as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the pretty Montazah beaches without feeling rushed or dehydrated, and definitely with no heat-waves.
8 – If you decide to visit Alexandria, then you could take a drive or a flight to the Red-Sea Hurghada, located south of Cairo. A marvel of beauty between the desert and the beautiful beach. You can enjoy activities such as hiking, snorkelling, diving, camping, and gazing at the stars.
Struggles are abundant worldwide, but our job as global citizens is to enjoy what we have for the present time and to learn how to embrace the beauty in the middle of it all.
The great balance may be to find the perfect means and visit a city where one is familiar with the native language, knows how to get around, but can also indulge and absorb what your city has to offer you of insights, sight-seeing and love all-around.
And with a little mindfulness, as you observe and try not to critique or compare, letting one’s personal visions go from the familiar to the new, life can become beautiful and definitely taste better.
So, as it turns, there are ways to become a tourist in a city you grew up in, all while feeling at home at the same time.
*This article was originally published on the writer’s blog. It is republished, with a few edits, with permission from the writer.