Alexandria has two weather conditions: perfect and slightly warmer than perfect. Both are characterized by a film of humidity and a cheerful breeze off the Mediterranean Sea. Most days I wake up with the sun pouring into my room. I open the French doors to my balcony that overlooks the Sea and the Cornish (the main road along the Sea); few people are out in the early hours, so the scene is more tranquil than most other times in Alexandria. I can usually see some fishermen in small boats bobbing around in the harbor and maybe a few businessmen casually catching a taxi or microbus. As the day warms up, people begin moving about the city trying to wrap up their daily errands before the real warmth of the afternoon sets in. Car horns honk and beep, and there is a constant growl of traffic from the streets below my window. As the afternoon settles in, people duck for cover and bask in any shade available. As I go about the city I have the impression that Egyptians take the afternoon to nap and relax, perhaps preparing for a long night of activities, while the foreigners seem to take the time to enjoy the many cafes along the Cornish. Evening is nearly as magical as the early hours of the morning: a strong, cool breeze fills the city and all the heat is blown away. It rushes through my hotel and removes the need for air conditioning.
This is when the city really comes alive. The streets crawl with people, the cafes are full, and children fly kites along the Sea. I enjoy walking around the streets in the evening, watching the Egyptians with their families taking a stroll along the Cornish, the teenagers goofing around before their curfew, and the various touts insisting they will “Make good price for you.” There are frequently weddings along the sea, and it’s always thrilling to see a bright-faced bride and groom surrounded with family and friends dancing in the street and blowing their car horns. The minarets pick up their call to prayer around sunset, and the city is full of their echoes. Then the mosques dotting the city fill with the observant. These areas seem to stay full of activity until after the final evening prayer. The streets stay full with women, men, and children until well after midnight, gradually emptying until the wee hours of the morning finally convince the last stragglers to return home.