Winding our way through Cairo’s traffic, we were finally on the road to Alexandria. After two hours we reached the outskirts of town, closer to the famous Corniche, a water front promenade that runs for 10 miles along the Mediterranean. When we reached it the traffic was dense and slow, but I didn’t mind. It gave me a chance to see up close the famous boardwalk of Alexandria I had so often heard about.
When, what seemed like the end of the Corniche, our car turned away from it, I was getting worried about where my hotel was located – the travel agent had promised a view on the Mediterranean. Asking the driver, he answered, “Your hotel, the Helnan Palestine, is the only Hotel in the Montaza Palace Grounds.” Palace grounds? I was reassured, but didn’t know what Palace he was talking about.
Not wanting to show my ignorance, I asked, while checking in where the palace was. “Oh, you mean King Farouk’s Summer Home – just up the road, five minutes walk”
“When can it be visited?” I asked “It is not open to the public.” she replied, and seeing my disappointed face, she added, “but when your Mr. Obama comes he can stay there.” (I hope Mr. Obama knows that, it might make him visit sooner).
When stepping on to the balcony – beside the ocean stretching far into the distance – this it what I saw
— the beautiful, mysterious Al-Haramlik Palace, hanging over the cliffs near the ocean in the Al-Montaza gardens, a 360 acre complex, stretching along the sea. It looked mysterious, enticing, remote and above all it made me think of the Thousand and One Night fables, wondering who might be passing along the open arcades facing the sea along each floor. The morning glow, sunlight, dusk, and night all add to its beauty in their own way and it never loses its magic.
The original palace was enlarged to its present size in 1932 as a summer residence by King Fuad I. When King Farouk I, the last King of Egypt, became King in 1936, at the age of 16 it remained a summer home for Egypt’s Royal family until the King’s overthrow in 1952.
Then it became the property of the government and is used as an official presidential residence, as well as hosting foreign dignitaries when they visit Egypt.
Moore from Egypt soon