Ever felt sorry for someone because they live in a city where you had a constant headache and irritated because of its loudness and crowd-ness?
I always feel that way when I went to Cairo. I visit Cairo a lot, especially lately, I do visit on a monthly basis for 2-3 days where I spend them hanging out with my friends there. Well, doing nothing special, just sleeping till late then going out for a coffee or hitting a bar…
This time though I visited Cairo with one of the friends I made in Spain, and I had to show him around the city. And so it was, I ditched my friend’s house that is in the city outskirts for a pension in down town Cairo, and boy was this loud!
We had planned to stay in Cairo for three nights. We took it slowly (we both hate waking up early) so we visited the national museum on one day, and the pyramids on the next, and that was it! Neither he nor I could take Cairo anymore, specially the hassle at touristic areas.
A week later, we had to pass by Cairo on our way to St. Katherine and Dahab, and instead of having an over 12 hours bus, we decided to break the trip into 2 and stay for 1 night in Cairo.
Arriving at 2 pm and checking in at the same hotel in downtown Cairo, we both stayed inside the room for a while, just checking our emails, waiting for the other one to say let’s go :). But soon enough we were both hungry and decided there’s no getting away of having to go out to eat something.
This time though, right after eating, we did what we didn’t do last time… walk aimlessly around downtown. From one narrow street to the next one, leading into an amazingly nice building then a place full of cafes in corridors between the buildings, which, unlike the rest of Cairo, was full of young guys and girls that are well dressed and they look like they were educated hanging out together, some girls were even smoking in public! (Yes that’s too much for a café that is on the street in Cairo).
Continue walking further more and get into street markets, some of them selling car spare parts and some selling clothes. It seemed that each street had a specialty; one narrow corridor connecting 2 narrow streets had the weird specialty of selling the spare parts of anything, just pieces of iron and long screws.
Sit in another restaurant for another meal, this time the traditional Egyptian Koshary, a carbohydrate booster to give us energy again. Then walk some more, and finally we decided it’s time to rest in one of the local cafés in a corridor between two buildings. Two cups of tea, two ice cold sprites, pay EGP 10 and we’re good to go again, to end the day on a roof top bar in Cairo enjoying the finally cold breeze of Cairo’s night.
I have to say, although this day was loud too, the markets were crowded, and Cairo continued to be Cairo, I had a relaxed day! I enjoyed this day more than any other in Cairo, and I even got to know many places I never thought existed in Cairo.
So my conclusion is, despite all the hassle and crowds, Cairo still CAN be relaxing if you just take a walk and watch those crowds do what they are in the streets to do… It is fun after all to do some people watching right?
Did you ever visit Cairo? Tell me your stories about how relaxing or irritating you found it?
Photo Credits: Christian Reistad