Thu, 03 Jul 2008 13:19:00 +0000

Alexandria to Siwa Index Siwa to Cairo

Well, that was actually a pretty unpleasant night. It's way hotter inside than outside, and the fan doesn't seem to achieve much. I was sweating the whole time, and didn't feel very rested this morning.

I went around the square looking for breakfast, but the only place that seemed likely firmly told me "no breakfast". So instead I just went to the grocer's and got some pita and some of those segments of cheese that they always serve for breakfast. It actually made a pretty decent meal.

I sat out on the balcony (I have a balcony!) and munched away, and it was pretty restful.

So restful in fact that it was 10:00 before I was ready to do anything interesting. I had read that there is a ruined "Oracle Temple" in Siwa, where apparently Alexander the Great had once visited. I hadn't heard the story, and it didn't mean anything to me, but since I'm here I may as well do something. So off I went to find a donkey cart to take me to the temple.

There was some good haggling for the donkey cart. The kid wanted 60 one way, but obviously that's silly. I felt that I was being generous giving him 40 for both ways, but honestly, if you're making your living from a donkey cart, you could use a bit of extra cash. Mind you, it was good for him that we agreed the price before I witnessed the horrific animal cruelty involved in persuading the donkey to go in the right direction. The kid had a massive stick to hit the donkey with, more like a branch, must have weighed a couple of kilos. Hitting the donkey on the haunches I can cope with, but he also mixed it up by hitting the poor creature on the neck, which seemed pretty unnecessary.

Anyway, the temple turned out to be quite a fun place. The actual stone enclosure is pretty small, but there are still visible heiroglyphs carved on the walls.

Surrounding the enclosure is a complex of ruined adobe buildings. I have no idea how old they are, probably not very. But since the whole thing is on a hill, you get a great view out over the palms to the lake. I was the only tourist there, so it was a really nice place to hang out for a bit.

That was enough touristing for the moment, though. I got back in the cart and the driver beat the donkey back into town. I booked my bus ticket for tomorrow: only as far as Matruh, unfortunately. I have to hope that a connection to Cairo materialises. And then it was lunch. I went to a place recommended by Wikitravel, which didn't seem any different to any of the other restaurants in town. I got "meat, tomato and onion", which at least didn't leave me wondering what to expect. Like all the food I've had in Siwa, it was really nice.

I had a siesta for a couple of hours: I'm getting good at siestas. I was considering exploring the ruined old town on the hill, and visiting the lake as projects for the afternoon, but honestly, who can be bothered? Not when you can sit on the balcony and watch the world completely fail to go by. I really came to enjoy that balcony. The only two things that were missing were a crate of cold beer and a couple of mates. Maybe some other time. I did have a box of Siwa dates, which apparently are famous. Over the course of the day I munched my way through half a kilo of the things.

Dates notwithstanding, I did go out for a proper meal. I went to the same place I went to yesterday, on the grounds that they were good. I ordered shish tawook, which turns out to mean chicken and vegetables on skewers. There was also a separate plate of salad, and some bread and houmus. It was a really good meal, and probably quite healthy as well. I feel like I got my vitamins today.

But that was my day. Very slack, very relaxing, and exactly what I hoped Siwa would be like. I'm very glad I made time to come here.

Alexandria to Siwa Index Siwa to Cairo