Strolling on Stanley Bridge, Alexandria

Taking a walk on Stanley Bridge, Alexandria is a must. Although it is a relatively new bridge, built a decade or so ago so not part of the historic architecture of the city, it is still considered a landmark.

Stanley Bridge has four towers, modeled to compliment the Islamic design of the royal palace in Montaza. Many fishermen line up on the bridge, patiently waiting for their catch of the day. In the evenings, many brides and grooms take their wedding photographs on the iconic bridge.

The bridge was built to enlarge the corniche since a narrow two-way road was causing too much traffic in the area. Below the bridge is Stanley Bay, a beach with cabins. Instead of destroying this popular beach, the then governor of Alexandria decided it was best to create a 400-meter bridge out on the Mediterranean sea. The two towers on the side of the sea have a small opening that looks out onto the water below.

There is an underpass for pedestrians near Stanley Bridge, so it is safe to cross to the other side. On the other side, there are several coffee shops and restaurants, including a Costa coffee shop and a McDonald’s, where you can sit and enjoy a panoramic view of the bridge.

Stanley Bridge is an important development to the Alexandrian seafront, creating an easier flow of traffic and smoothly connecting commuters to the other side of Alexandria. But Stanley Bridge is not just a convenience for commuters, it’s also a beautiful landmark offering many recreational activities that Egyptians are quite fond of.

Stanley Bridge,
Stanley,
Alexandria

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Finding Europe in Montazah Gardens, Alexandria

I found Europe in Montazah Gardens Alexandria. Well, almost. Over the years Montaza Gardens’ enormous 370-acre landscape has slowly deteriorated with a lack of maintenance in some areas. Even so, most of the gardens are still as beautiful as it must have been when the royal families of Egypt spent the summer vacation there, King Farouk being the last monarch of the country.

The palace that was built at the edge of Montazah Gardens, built in 1892, is now a hotel called El Salamlek Palace Hotel that sits on the beach and overlooks the Mediterranean. Sadly my stay at the hotel was before I had a digital camera, otherwise, I would have gladly shared the beautiful high ceilings, the large spacious rooms, and the history oozing out of each and every corner.

The Montazah Gardens is a popular spot for couples to visit, as is any park in Egypt. The construction of the forests and gardens surrounding the palace always takes me by surprise, as I am not used to seeing so much greenery in this part of the world, and there is always something new to discover whenever I visit this part of Egypt.

The forests and tall trees in Montazah Gardens that almost block out the sun is something I thought I would only admire in Europe, not Egypt. Most of the trees at the time of my visit were heavily pregnant with delicious looking dates. Just listening to the trees rustling in the warm breeze brought me peace of mind.

Cars are permitted to enter the Montazah Gardens and there are several sites to park. I loved cruising around in the car, taking my time while spotting the perfect shot. At the time of writing the admission fee to enter with a car are 7 EGP and 7 EGP per person.

If you’re interested in architecture, there are many structures to admire around Montazah Gardens. I loved admiring this building and its different styled windows, including the arched windows.

There are many different types of trees to admire in the Montazah Gardens too. But it’s not just a park. There are many coffee shops and a McDonald’s in the grounds to rest and recharge.

I loved spotting this building with its gorgeous roofed tiles. Imagine the view from the attic!

Look at the roots of this tree! It’s quite incredible. There is also a clock tower which is easily spotted whilst entering the Montazah Gardens. It is said that King Farouk had requested the building of this clock tower so that at the strike of each hour a soldier would appear.

I also loved the style of this building with its symmetrical oval-shaped towers.

But what I loved admiring most was the trees that lead into the forest. The trees are everywhere creating a peaceful haven in a country that is quite the opposite.

Walking past the palace hotel, there is the iconic brownish-red bridge that leads you an island where there are beaches, coffee shops, a mosque, and chalets. On the opposite side, there is another hotel called the Helnan Palestine Hotel, a beautiful luxury hotel that overlooks the quiet bay. I have had many delicious lunches on the terrace overlooking the beach at the Palestine Hotel and can’t recommend it enough.

There is a yacht park in this part of town, with the Salamlek Palace Hotel quietly looming on the other side of the water.

I loved how calculatedly the trees were planted, leaving a path to walk in between the trees.

What I love most when visiting the Montazah Gardens is the notion that I’m walking in the footsteps of history. It’s a great place to spend the day with many activities for the entire family, from quiet reflections, photo walks, swimming or tanning on the beaches, to picnicking, taking the children to the (albeit run-down) playground, or relaxing at one of the many restaurants and coffee shops.

What I really appreciate is the fact that Montazah Gardens it’s not just a place for the elite like long ago during the royal reign. Those on a tight budget can enjoy the gardens too, only having to pay the admission fee and not having to pay another pound whilst they walk around the gardens, have a picnic on the grass, and sit on the many benches.

Montazah Gardens
Al Montazah,
Alexandria

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A Place to Eat & Enjoy the Alexandrian Skyline

Just a short walk from San Stefano’s Four Seasons is this spectacular view of Alexandria’s skyline and the Mediterranean sea. And right on this spot is one of the many places to eat in Alexandria Egypt whilst enjoying the view.

It takes ten minutes to walk towards the direction of Stanley Bridge, where the area of Gleem is located. Walking is a breeze in Alexandria; the corniche is lined with beautiful pavements that joggers, runners and those seeking a casual stroll enjoy.

One of the reasons I love walking to Gleem is to see the boats that have been lined up a distance from the shore. I think they make such a picturesque photograph.

There are also rocks by the shore in Gleem; a natural landscape that gives photographs an interesting foreground.

On the other side, there is a pier to walk on where fishermen wait patiently for their catch of the day.

Next to the boats is the Gleem beach, busy with children and families soaking up the last days of summer before the new school year begins.

Next to Gleem beach is this building which has several places to eat in Alexandria, including restaurants and cafes. I visited the Latino Cafe on the bottom floor that overlooks the sea, which can be seen in the photograph. It has an indoor and outdoor area. I enjoyed sitting in the outside area next to the sea.

While the service is quite relaxed in Latino Cafe, you can stay as long as you like with no minimum charge. I spotted couples only ordering water, or shisha. I loved sipping my refreshing lemon juice, 18.75 EGP, whilst watching the waters flow next to me, making me feel quite relaxed and at peace while I read my book. The cafe does not bombard customers with music either, so one is free to reflect peacefully or have fun with friends without having to shout over the music to be heard.

I couldn’t believe I found a place that served jacket potato in Egypt! The choice of stuffing was with either chicken, meat or prawns. I had the chicken which came with vegetables and mozzarella, 20,50 EGP. I also had a side order of tuna with mayo, 8.00 EGP, which was perfect to eat with the jacket potato and nachos. For the first time in Egypt, the chef added plenty of mayo to the tuna, not just a drizzle. I could see myself visiting this place again.

The lovely food at Gleem and the beautiful scenery makes this one of my favorite casual outdoor outings in Alexandria.

Because there’s nothing like taking a stroll on an actual functioning pavement in Egypt with the reward of delicious food and rowing boats gleaming in the distance.

Gleem,
Alexandria

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A Walk Through Four Seasons San Stefano Beach, Alexandria

There are many private beaches sprawled across Egypt’s second largest coastal city Alexandria, either completely free or with a low-cost entrance fee. But only a few exclusive beaches offer the luxury of not forcing beach-goers to sit tightly crammed together like sardines along a small stretch of sand.

One exclusively private beach which was quite literally created from scratch is the Four Seasons San Stefano beach, with its hotel looming in the background. Designed in a crescent-like shape, the entire building is a complex of luxury apartments, the Four Seasons hotel and a mall with cinemas, a food court, restaurants, and cafés.

Getting to the Four Seasons San Stefano beach may look like quite an adventure, what with a whole two-way road in between the hotel and the beach. Even though a traffic-light-slash-pelican-crossing was recently added, it still feels like quite a hassle getting to and from each location.

But surprisingly, the architects at Four Seasons San Stefano beach thought of everything. There is an underpass that connects the residential apartments and hotel straight to the beach– quietly, smoothly, and swiftly. Hotel guests are allowed entry but only apartment owners who have paid a hefty beach membership lump sum with an annual maintenance fee are allowed access to the beach.

Upon entry to the Four Seasons San Stefano beach a member of staff asks for either your hotel room number or your spa membership number. Four Seasons San Stefano beach also offers a day-use access fee that is well over 150 EGP.

Although the Four Seasons San Stefano beach is quite exclusive, it doesn’t feel pretentious like some other beaches in Egypt. Perhaps it is the flowers and palm trees that greet you as you exit the underpass that gives off a sense of ease.

Or perhaps it’s the manicured lawns and pretty flower pots. Or the fact that the population mainly consists of laid-back tourists on their vacation.

The Four Seasons San Stefano beach has a children’s playground, a fish restaurant, and a café. The café’s peak hours are during the evenings with large screen televisions, live music, and puffs of smoke from the many shisha pipes being consumed.

You can also order food from the comfort of your own lounge chair at Four Seasons San Stefano beach. While this burger, costing 90+ EGP, was juicy on one day, the next time we ordered it, it was tasteless and as dry as a rock. It’s clear that there are different chefs on different days and no consistency on how the burger should be cooked and seasoned. What a shame, especially considering the price.

But it’s all about the beach, isn’t it? And this is it at the Four Seasons San Stefano beach…a man-made beach that didn’t exist ten years ago. Although I prefer natural white-sandy beaches with natural rock formations, this one isn’t too shabby.

Since the Four Seasons San Stefano beach opens at 8 am, I found that the best time to go is at around 8 am to 10 am. That’s when I find the beach at its quietest, so you can choose the best place to sit, have some relaxation time, and pretend that the beach is all yours.

Because there are other parts of the Four Seasons San Stefano beach that haven’t yet officially opened the lounge chairs are a bit close to each other –considering that this is a luxury private beach– so when it is busy, especially on Thursdays and Fridays, it can get a little uncomfortable, especially for the amount of money you have paid. This issue is incomparable to other beaches, however, where there is literally no space between chairs.

On the plus side, the sound of the waves hitting the shore is louder than the noise of the road behind, so the rest of Alexandria often feels like a distant dream.

At the Four Seasons San Stefano beach there is a bit of a descent into the Mediterranean waters. Even when you look towards the shore you can see that the beach is a bit of an incline. This is probably intentional, to stop the sea from rising too far, especially during the winter when the beach is closed. Because of the incline, it is a little hard to climb out of the water if you are a little rusty in the health department.

There are security guards with guard dogs to protect the borders of the beach. This is obviously to prevent intruders, non-membership visitors and fishermen from sneaking in the private Four Seasons San Stefano beach.

Since there are two man-made reefs made from rocks that curve around the beach at a distance, making the beach on a bay, fishermen and the public are free to access those areas.

A downside to windy conditions in Alexandria is that the waves bring in the litter. I even spotted an eaten watermelon! Although I have seen the friendly staff clean some parts of the beach, sometimes they are quite laid back with other parts of the Four Seasons San Stefano beach that people use. They have used the excuse that “If we clean up now, the waves will only keep bringing in more litter.” On one occasion, we’ve had to ask a staff member to clean the sand in front of us since it was full of litter and sharp items that are dangerous to step on with bare feet.

This aside, with the iconic building in the background, you never really forget where you are in Alexandria.

A basic set-up on the Four Seasons San Stefano beach are the lounge chairs that are covered in towels, with a rolled-up towel placed on the head of the chair to act as a head-rest. Very comfortable.

Strangely, this part of the Four Seasons San Stefano beach, although completed, isn’t occupied by lounge chairs yet. I think it makes more sense to space out the lounge chairs so that there is more space between people. But so far, this part of the beach is largely unoccupied.

Conveniently, you don’t need to walk all the way back to your room or apartment to visit the bathroom or have a shower after a swim. There’s one right on the beach.

The bathrooms are next to the entrance to the Four Seasons San Stefano beach. There are pretty petals hanging from the rooftop. There are also smaller bathrooms right in front of the beach.

The bathrooms are luxurious and air-conditioned. But not on one Thursday when a nursery came for a day use. It was so hectic, there were dirty diapers discarded on the floor; tissues in the sink. The poor bathroom attendant had her work cut out for her, rushing around cleaning after them. The nursery teachers didn’t really care about their inconsideration that others had to use the bathroom. I would avoid visiting the bathrooms if there is a school outing on the beach.

There’s a changing room with clean towels and a laundry basket for when you’ve used a towel.

If you’ve taken a swim, there are showers! It’s a little weird that there’s no latch to secure yourself inside the shower to ensure privacy, but it’s a practical feature nonetheless.

Not only is it quite spacious inside…

It also has everything you need, from hooks to hang your towels, to shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel dispensers.

Sometimes when it’s a windy day, I’d rather sit by the Fours Seasons pool than have sand blew into my eyes and mouth (has happened!)

The pool area is for hotel guests and overlooks the street and beach. There’s also an indoor pool.

Did I mention it’s an eternity pool? It looks like it merges with the sea in the distance.

But I’d choose the sea over the pool any day. It has exciting waves.

Calming waters to recharge your energy.

And cute things to spot in the sand, like this little footprint!

Despite the few limitations of the man-made world they’ve created here, the sun setting into the sea is quite a spectacular vista.

Perhaps it’s nature’s way of showing that no matter what man gets up to, with the sun and the sea, nature will always be an inspiration, and at the center of it all.

Four Seasons San Stefano beach

San Stefano,
399 El Geish Road
Alexandria, Egypt.

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