Sunday, December 19, 2004

Alexandria, Egypt: Backpacking in Style

In Alexandria I feel I can live the way rich people do in the French Riviera - but on a backpacker's budget. Waking up to a view through my French windows over the Mediterranean, I sauntered downstairs and across the road to a cafe that reminds me of the opulence of cafes in Vienna, but again with that vital price difference. For a couple of Euros I had a big and tasty breakfast with a horde of waiters and waitresses swarming around me.

Well, it is not entirely the way rich people holiday, because they probably have running water in their bathroom when they go for a shower. Now I realise why the room was so cheap and why the manager wanted me to pay in advance. This had made me suspicious so I agreed only to one day's payment. This morning after breakfast I found another hotel with equally impressive views in an equally impressive period building, but this time with the promise of hot water.

The lifts in both building were those old metal cages with wooden doors that you open manually. The lift rises within the spiralling staircase.

I am writing from the Bibliotheca Alexandria, better known as the Library at Alexandria. Naturally it is not the library from antiquity, that was pretty much wiped off the map 1500 years ago or so. This is the new version, opened in 2004, and it is amazing to see. It's not in the same league as the Pyramids and Pharaoh Tombs, but it is still impressive, inside and out. I don't have the words to do it justice, so I won't try.

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