Cairo Journals

A Year In Cairo

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An August 2002 trip to Cairo by HobWahid

The Pyramids Photo, Cairo, Egypt More Photos
Quote: Cairo is a sprawling mass of people that can be very overwhelming and intimidating, but it is also a fascinating city with a lot of character and many interesting areas to explore. In this journal I want to share some tips with you I have acquired while studying in القاهرة.

A Year In Cairo

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Overview

The Pyramids Photo, Cairo, Egypt
Quote:
The first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Cairo is the Pyramids of Giza. These are of course Cairo's major attraction, and duly so, as they are truly amazing monuments. Any trip to Cairo must include a visit to the Pyramids. However Cairo has much more to offer. There are the lesser known pyramids at Sakkara, Islamic Cairo, the Citadel, Coptic Cairo, as well as numerous other neighborhoods worth visiting, places where you can experience a truer Cairo than the one most tourists see. As this journal is being written by a student and a resident of Cairo, it will provide not only suggestions on the main attractions, but suggestions on how to experience the Cario of the Cairenes.Qui...Read More

Citadel Complex

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Attraction | "The Citadel"

Citadel Complex Photo, Cairo, Egypt
Quote:
The fabulous Citadel of Cairo, built by Salah Ad-Din (Saladin) in 1176 has seen its fair share of history. It was held by Crusaders, was the home of the Mamluke and Ottoman rulers, and was the site of Muhammad Ali's famous massacre of the Mamlukes. The fortress even housed British and Egyptian soldiers. It is now a fabulous museum that offers spectacular views of the city. To get to the Citadel it is best to take a taxi. Just get in and say "Al-Qalaa." It should be no more than 6 LE from downtown. The main enterance is on Sharia' Salah Salem, and it will cost you 20 LE, or 10 LE for students, to get in. Beware, the Citadel closes at 5:00 and if you want to see everything, expect to spend 2.5-3 h...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 29, 2002

Citadel Complex
Salah Salem Highway
Cairo, Egypt
20 2 512 9619

Wikala of al-Ghouri

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Attraction | "Sufi Music and dancing"

Wikala of al-Ghouri Photo, Cairo, Egypt
Quote:
Sufism is the ascetic and mystical movement in Islam that places emphasis on achieving oneness with God through things such as music, dance, and poetry. It is said to have originated around the 8-9 Centuries around Iraq, Anatolia, and Iran. Sects however appeared all over the Muslim world, and many were located in Cario. The Sufi tradition is not as strong in Cairo today, but you can still have the opportunity to see the famous music and dancing of the Sufis. The two hour show is usually located at the Mausoleum of Al-Ghouri near Khan El-Khalili, but it is under restoration and so the Sufi show is now located at the Citadel. At the time of writing (October, 2002) shows were at 7:00 on Sat, Sun, and...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 3, 2002

Wikala of al-Ghouri
Darb el-Tablawi, Gamaliyya, close to al-Hussein Mosque
Cairo, Egypt
+20 2 511 0472

Andrea

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Attraction

Andrea Photo, Cairo, Egypt
Quote:
A visit to Cairo almost entails a taste of Shisha (see my journal entry on Shisha here), and Andrea is a great place to do it. Located on the norhtern tip of Zamalek on Abu Al-Feda, Andrea is a gorgeous place right on the water with excellent views of the city. Andrea is a restaurant as well as a shisha bar. The shisha bar is located all the way in the back next to the stack of around 100 shishas. There is no menu of flavors but the waiters, most of whom know enough English to get your order, will tell you the flavors. The standard favorite is Apple, but some of my favorites include: Apricot, Rose...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 7, 2002

Andrea
Zamalek
Cairo, Egypt

Sand Bar

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Attraction

Quote:
Sand Bar is a relatively new bar on the Cario scene, just opened a few months ago by Clayton, a native of Baltimore, who owns a bar of the same name in the resort town of El Gouna (see my journal on El Gouna). For his Cairean version, Clayton took all the great aspects of his El Gouna bar and adapted them for the Cario lifestyle. The interior of the bar while small, is chic, with red walls and comfortable booths, and features the bar's favorite table soccer (which I have spent many hours challenging bar-goers at). Sand Bar gets a little crowded on weekends and is a great place to see people from the chic AUC crowd as well as numerous ex-pats. It is much calmer on weekdays, and always has good rock ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 7, 2002

Sand Bar
Shariya Maraashly, Zamalek
Cairo, Egypt

River Boat

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Attraction | "A Felucca Ride"

River Boat Photo, Cairo, Egypt
Quote:
Feluccas are ancient sailboats that have been used on the Nile for centuries, and today provide great ways for tourists to escape the crowded streets of Cairo and take a relaxing tour on the open waters of the Nile. How To Make The Most Of Your Felucca Experience The first thing I suggest is go at night, around 8:00. The sun will have set and the whole city of Cairo will be lit up, and the city looks much more impressive at night. This will also put you on the boat around dinner time and you can enjoy a nice picnic on the boat. I suggest you stop by your local Ta'amiyya (like falafel) or Koshari (a noodle and rice dish made with grilled onions and tomato sauce). You can get a good me...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 12, 2002

River Boat
Le Pacha 1901 boat
Cairo, Egypt
+20 2 735 6730

Pyramid of Cheops (Khufu)

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Attraction | "Horseback Riding Near the Pyramids"

Pyramid of Cheops (Khufu) Photo, Cairo, Egypt
Quote:
The Pyramids can be a terribly hectic and frustrating place. You can't walk ten feet without someone trying to get some money out of you. I have found that a nice horse ride around the Pyramids is a good way to escape all these hassles as well as have some fun and get great views of the Pyramids and Cairo. There are two entrances to the Pyramids and to get to the stables do not go to the main entrance off Pyramids Road, but to the second entrance where you buy the Sound and Light Show tickets. You will know you are at the right entrance if you see a two story KFC right across the street. To get to the Stables do not go in this entrance, but turn left and continue down this road. You will soon see ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 25, 2002

Pyramid of Cheops (Khufu)
Giza Pyramids Plateau
Cairo, Egypt
+20 2 383 8823

Coptic Cemetery of Old Cairo

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Attraction | "Coptic Cairo"

Coptic Cemetery of Old Cairo Photo, Cairo, Egypt
Quote:
The Copts are an ancient sect of Christianity that have lived in Egypt since before the coming of Islam. They share many similar practices with other Eastern churches, but differ in their belief of Monophytism (Jesus was divine) and they have their own Pope who resides in Egypt. Copts make up more than 5% of the Egyptian population and have their own language, which is descended from the language of the Pharaohs. Coptic Cairo is an amazing place to visit for its history and because it seems to move at a different pace than the rest of Cairo. It is quiet and life moves a little bit slower. It is still a very conservative part of town, so wear appropriate clothes, no shorts or tank tops. If you aren't d...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 9, 2002

Coptic Cemetery of Old Cairo
Shari Mari Girgis Street
Cairo, Egypt

Taking Taxis in Cairo

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Story/Tip

Traffic Photo, Cairo, Egypt
Quote:
The Cairene taxi is at once a blessing to tourists, but can also be the cause of much frustration. Taxis in Cairo do not use meters, or any fixed system at all. All the taxis have meters, but will never use them. Every once in a while I have heard stories of taxi drivers turning on the meter when they have foreigners in the car, and then trying to charge them the price on the meter, which is much more than the usual. So if your driver tries to turn on the meter, or charge you the fare on the meter, immediately tell him no, and if he refuses, leave.So, since there is no meter, how do the taxis work? Well, when you get in the cab it will be assumed that you know how much the price should be to where ...Read More

Shisha and the Ahwa: The People's Cario

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Story/Tip

Shisha Photo, Cairo, Egypt
Quote:
When one talks of the Middle East, images of men sitting around around on luxurious pillows, smoking shisha, sipping coffee, and chatting (or maybe watching a belly dancer) often come to mind. While the luxurious "harems" that are often depicted in the West are few and far between (especially in Egypt) shisha, coffee, and the coffe house are very much a part of Middle Eastern and especially Egyptian culture. Shisha and coffee are some of the the common bonds between the rich and the poor in Egyptian culture. Everyone from the poorest street vendor to the wealthiest businessman loves to enjoy a good smoke of shisha, or a nice strong coffee, and you can find shisha being smoked anywhere from the smalles...Read More
Quote:
One thing you will notice as soon as you get to Cairo is the absolutely insane number of American fast food chains that populate Cairo's steets. You will also notice quickly that there are not a lot of actual restaurants where you can get Egyptian food. When most Egyptians go out to a restaurant, they go out for Italian, seafood, or one of the numerous American chains (i.e. Chili's and Applebee's). This can be frustrating for foreigners in that it is hard to get a good real Egyptian meal, save for getting invited to an Egyptian's house for dinner, which, if it ever happens to you, you must accept. You will get so much food you won't have to eat for a week. Anyway, if you want to experience what the va...Read More