Alexandria is a lovely little town and I'm looking forward to visiting again soon. My hotel was on the outskirts of the Old Town area, a short walk from King Street and the waterfront. I paid a quick visit to the Torpedo Factory, a building that was once exactly that and now houses art galleries.
There wasn't nearly enough time to see all the touristy things I wanted to see, but I did visit the George Washington Masonic Memorial. It's beautiful and fascinating. I wandered around for about 45 minutes on my own, and then joined a guided tour led by a red-haired English lady.
The form of the building is copied from the lighthouses of ancient Alexandria. Its pyramidal shape makes it one of the few buildings in the world with diagonal elevators. Our tour group took the lift to the top, where you can get a stunning view of Alexandria and DC.
For some reason I failed to snap a photo of the imposing statue of Washington in the main hall, but I did capture this shot of one of the murals of Washington in Masonic garb:
EDIT: Wait, here's George!
The lower levels held a lot of historical exhibits. Here's a display with items related to the Order of the Eastern Star -
Freemasonry is gender-segregated - only men can become Freemasons, while female family members are eligible for membership in Eastern Star. That's not necessarily one of the things I admire about Freemasonry, but it is what it is and they may have their reasons for doing it that way.
Of particular interest to me was this exhibit with the effects of Brother David Dellal, and Iraqi Jew who served as a translator in the US Army during World War II.
Speaking of Iraq, the high point of the trip was that I finally got to meet the Fadhil brothers - Mohammed, Omar, and even the reclusive Ali - from the blog Iraq the Model. Omar - writing as Omar al-Nidawi - has now had a couple of articles published in Foreign Affairs.
I met Mohammed and Omar at Virtue Feed and Grain in Alexandria for beers and dinner, and a couple of days later was able to meet up with Mohammed (again) and Ali; Virtue was mobbed so we went to a seafood place on the waterfront. The three brothers are safely settled in the States, but they have family back in Baghdad and I worry for them.
So that was my trip to Alexandria. East Coast, baby. Yeah, there was humidity. But there were fireflies.