Turning the page on Alexandria's past
Two thousand years ago, Alexandria was the centre of trade between the East and West.
The ancient city was so rich that book and text buyers were sent as far as Athens and copied any writings that came through its port on to locally woven papyrus to fill its massive library on the seashore. The library burned down and the papyrus industry has been consigned to history from its peak in 300BC, but Alexandria has much to offer the business traveller.
If the word "budget" is not in your lexicon, tell your taxi driver to take you straight to the Four Seasons. A private beach awaits with views of the hotel's less fortunate neighbours - dusty concrete shells decorated by laundry lines.
Otherwise, continue along the Corniche and turn left at the statue of a man wearing a fez. The French colonial relic with the bakery at the bottom is the Hotel Metropole. It may suffer a few lapses - a breakfast spread covered by unsightly plastic wrap and the lack of a concierge - but this is made up for by chirpy staff and a charming Old World lift.
After a long day, saunter down to the Corniche to take in the sights and enjoy a shisha or the city's dense ice cream that just about refuses to melt.
At the end of the road you'll find the Greek Club, with one of the few Western-style beaches and a gem of a restaurant. The White & Blue's balcony overlooks a marina. Patrons can feast on grilled crab and pickled fish while listening to quaint Greek tunes.
Step into one of the horse-drawn carriages plying the Corniche and the driver will gladly take you to the place where the Library of Alexandria once hoarded all the world's knowledge.
Published: August 1, 2011 04:00 AM