Yesterday was my birthday and the first I've spent abroad (if you don't count Hawaii as being "abroad" but sometimes I do). It was pretty mellow and while I traditionally haven't thought much of my birthday in the past, it seems the older I get the more fun I have with excuses to do certain things. I think teenage Lauren was "too cool for birthdays" and was maybe a bit extremist in fighting The Man in all things which includes stupid obligations as excuses to buy into the system. Nowadays, I see it as an excuse to splurge on myself (even though, let's be honest, I splurge on myself all the time because screw you, that's why).
I originally wanted to wake up early and GO, but two things made reality happen in that area: one, we got home at 2am the night before and I didn't sleep until 3am because I NEEDED a shower no matter how exhausted. Two, what in Allah's name even opens before 10am in Egypt (or Nothern Africa in general)? Pretty much nothing. So I got up around 830 afraid it was like 1130 and mused around until Jake got up around 930ish (he always goes to bed much later than I). We made plans to see the library but seeing as we're [always] on a pastry kick, we decided to look for a bakery. Luckily, our couch surfing host Paulina had several Egypt guides and the Rough Guide (being sick of Lonely Planet) had a few to name. We chose Delecies and we're pleased with our decision by the large selection of croissants, danishes, and endless varieties of cakes.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina opened at 11am but I think we got there around 1200 or 1230 and bought a combo ticket that allowed us to get into two museums on top of the library all for about $7 each. Not bad if I say so myself and a worthwhile splurge to spend my personal holiday even though I grossly don't have the funds for most of this trip (ce la vie Serengeti National Park).
We weren't supposed to have bags in the library but both Jake and I had all our camera stuff in messenger bags. We were told we'd need to deposit our bags by the ticket booth for holding like everyone else, but like snotty white people, we scoffed. The signs nearby explicitly said "We recommend not leaving valuables in your bags that you check" so like hell we were doing that. Instead we asked to see one of the museums downstairs first and I think we were just hoping to sneak into the library later. However, the end of one of the museums led us back out to the original entrance outside and we decided to go American about it. We found someone more "official" looking and after showing him ALL that was in our bags were camera gear, the conversation went from "This is… not possible" to "Okay, not a problem" (imagine in deep Egyptian accent for full experience) and we were let in with our bags and saw the man tell all the security guys we were free to bring our shit. Yeah, sometimes you just gotta be American. Rules don't apply to us.
Finally, with only cheese danishes and ridiculous looking coffee in our bellies from the A.M., it was nearing 5pm and we were hungry. Where else to go when you're broke than Gad where the locals eat and partake in sandwiches that cost roughly 18 cents? Yeah that's right. They're small, but two is plenty filling, so when we spend less than $1 (5 Egyptian Pounds) for four sandwiches, we're not complaining at all. I got two filled with falafel and veggies (called Taamiya) and Jake got one Taamiya and one Foul (pronounced "fuul") which is just refried fava beans mixed with some creamy sauce stuff and both kinds are ridiculously tasty.
We brought them back to Paulina's flat to eat while we rest from our day and gather energy to go back out that night for someone else's birthday party (I love other Augustines!). Finally around 21:00-ish we go out to find birthday candles without luck and decide to forego the candles and head to the party. There were two parties that night, one for the birthday girl which was more family oriented. And then as someone at the party said "The bad guys came in so the good guys went out" and a more alcoholic party started thereafter.
I had fun taking pictures with the exceptional view from the flat and wanted to take high ISO people shots last night anyway, I came out feeling successful.
Then others were interested in my camera, so it got passed around a bit:
And Jake had his way with my camera too (what a surprise). He should also post a video with clips I did on my cam and he did on his G11 of the guys singing. It was a pretty priceless night:
With good company and gorging myself on blue cheese, lasagna, and far too many pastries, cookies, sweets, and cakes, I deem this a very good birthday all in all.