Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Siwa Oasis - Part 11 : When to go, Where to eat and more

This is the Eleventh in a beautiful series of articles written by my friend Gabi Philips who has spent an extended period of time in Siwa.

Also Read
Part 1 : Transportation
Part 2 : Where to Stay
Part 3 : Where to Stay (contd)
Part 4 : Shali
Part 5 : Places to Visit
Part 6 : Aghourmy : The Oracle & the Broken Rock
Part 7 : Cleopatra Spring, the mountains & Fatanas island
Part 8 : The House of Siwa
Part 9 : The Annual Celebration
Part 10 : The Desert

When to go:
All year round if you don't care about weather :)
April, May, October and November if you consider good weather.
October if you want to attend the celebration.
Summer (June, July, August) if you're going for treatment by burying in the sand.
And Summer till September if you want to drink "lagby" or try tasting "robb".

Lagby is a drink from palm trees, they cut on special parts in the palm tree at night and leave it to "sweat" overnight, and the liquid is collected in a pot. It should be drunk before sunrise, otherwise it gets fermented and turns into an alcoholic drink. I'm not sure if it is bottled in some way, to be sold and drunk at any time of the day.

Robb is the dates honey. It is like making a juice from dates, very sugary, looks like and almost tastes like molasses.

Where to eat:
The most famous is Abdou restaurant in the main square.
There is also East-West restaurant between the main square and the big mosque.
Also you can try restaurants at hotels like the one on the roof of Kelani hotel at the main square with a charming view on Shali.
You can arrange to have a "special meal" at dream lodge or the restaurant at Kenoz Shali Lodge hotel.

More photos and more about Siwa:

Some Tips:
When in town, don't show a lot of skin.
Men try not to wear shorts.
Ladies cover at least upto knees and upper arms.
This is not for safety but to respect local traditions and culture.
Siwa is one of the safest places you can visit.

For ladies, when at Cleopatra spring, at least put a T-shirt on over the swim wear, this is because Cleopatra spring is a public place and locals may be offended.
It is less restricted in other "private" or far away springs like the one in Fatanas island, in Abo Shrouf or any of the those in the desert.

When you are walking between gardens and want to eat some dates, eat as much as you like but don't carry a single date away with you.

You can rent a bicycle for a complete day for only 10 L.E.
Other means of transportation is the donkey cart, or you can hire a truck/ toktok/ bike to visit the far away places.

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