Doing something different and not spending any money doing it is no easy task. But Rosetta is a perfect marriage of the unique and cheap, with the added bonus of being an easy day trip for weekend warriors. Located on the Mediterranean and the western arm of the Nile, Rosetta (also known as Rashid, Poulbotine and Khito) has been of interest to Pharaohs, kings and conquerors, hence the historical aliases. Best remembered as the site at which the Rosetta Stone (now in London’s British Museum) was discovered, there is little of the ancient to attract visitors.
Instead, visitors to Rosetta come for Ottoman-era architecture. The first stop in Rosetta is the ticket office. There are 22 Ottoman merchant residences and several old mills, beautiful mosques and bathhouses. One ticket grants admission to all the monuments, but make sure you ask which ones are open ― many are closed for restoration. But be forewarned: Rain in Rosetta creates a muddy mess even the ducks avoid.
A short distance from the city center is the Qait Bey Citadel, where the Rosetta Stone was found. With no company from tourists, who rarely venture this far, a first-rate Nile view is your reward.
The monuments are enough to keep you busy for an afternoon, observing multi-hued ceramics, intricate mashrabeyas and rare, pointed bricks. But don’t miss the chance to cruise Rosetta from the seat of a bicycle. Rent out and riding along the Nile and towards the farms, you’ll feel the wind in your hair. The very ambitious (with sturdier bikes) should inquire about pedaling on to other villages. For those who are more seafarers than cyclists, felucca rides are a lazy alternative.
Off the beaten track, Rosetta bestows a feeling of discovery, while its quiet, agrarian beauty is a salve for hectic city minds.