Alexandria and an Elusive Oasis

Siwa oasis

From Luxor we took an overnight train to Alexandria. It included taxi races, beautiful waterfront views from our cozy hotel, a visit to the infamous Alexandria library…of course a slightly newer version of it (and you all know how much I love the library!), a walk through the catacombs, a swim at the beach, and delicious meals in a modern city. 

Loved this hotel in Alexandria
Alexandria Library
Modern library interior

Visiting Siwa, an Egyptian oasis:

View from our room in Siwa

When thinking about an oasis, I has this stereotype in my head of riding through a barren desert only to come upon what would initially seem to be a mirage, but would soon realize that it’s not- it’s a body of water and lots of tropical trees. And Siwa was exactly that! We were warned in advance by our guide that Siwa is an extremely conservative town and to not take pictures of the women out of respect. Most of the women are completely covered from head to toe; yes it’s hot, but they are wearing gloves and veils that even cover their eyes. It was an exotic site that felt straight out of the movies and it was nice to discover this place without feeling the need to pull out my camera. We saw women and children being escorted through town in carts pulled by mules. Coming from the city of Alexandria, it felt like a nostalgic town that was left in a prior century. As we took a stroll that evening and passed the pastel-washed buildings, listening to the call to prayer, it was a moment in time that will forever be preserved in my memory as if captured in the pages of an alluring fairytale.

Wandering in Siwa at sunset

The following day we took a bike tour of Siwa, and it was fantastic.  We rode up to the Mountain of the Dead, a former cemetery for Siwa and explored the area on foot. Then we continued our ride to Cleopatra’s Bath, a hot spring in town where we took a little dip.

Mountain of the Dead
If this doesn’t look like an oasis, I’m not sure what does!

Our tour also took us to a weaving factory that provides jobs for young women in Siwa.

Weaving rugs in Siwa
Lauren and I get a lesson on traditional weaving practices.
Another view of Siwa

After dinner, Lauren and I went with another guy and our guide on a bike ride out to a beautiful place to do one of our favorite things- watch the sun set!

The sun sets in Siwa
Lauren and I demonstrate our favorite yoga poses

We loved our stay in Siwa. It felt like a place not yet touched by Westernization and had a vitality all on its own.

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