Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Goodbye Cairo - It's Been One Amazing Day

We crossed the street to find the roadway being shared by motorized and nonmotorized mode of transportation and the Colonel's mug across the street. The reason why Iman our tour guide took us to this street - across from the Sphinx - is to have some eats. Now we didn't know that we were eating. With the exception of AJ, no one wanted to eat. We all voted on eating versus shopping and AJ was outvoted 11 to 1. So Iman was left with no choice but to summon our bus to take us to the next stop. I believe Iman's company has some agreement with this establishment to bring tourists in after a visit to Giza.
And while walking I spotted this Guest House just across from the Sphinx. The reason is that however want to stay here, I am sure you would have a good view from your window of the light show on the Pyramids. You don't have to pay to see the light show, don't you think so?

We drove by around 20 minutes and was dropped off to a nondescript stone/cement building. I didn't see the sign outside, but we were told we would be stopping at a Papyrus store. Another stop that we didn't anticipate but was welcomed by everyone on the tour. I was interested in seeing the store and browse at their merchandise. What I didn't expect yet was so glad to find is a free demonstration on how papyrus is made. Now this is where I videoclipped the whole presentation, a 7-minute long show that neither Flickr nor Youtube wouldn't accept :(. I will find a way to upload that video because it's truly interesting and educational. By hook or by crook I'd show it all to you - someday.

You see that plant that the guy is showing? That's what's used to make papyrus and the ones behind him are the papyrus for sale. There were different designs, both large and small, from historical Egyptian landscapes and gods and deities to Christian scenes of The Last Supper and Madonna and Child and everything in between.

Would you believe I didn't get tempted to buy anything? I'm kicking myself in the butt now. I missed the chance to get a souvenir here. Truth be told, I wanted a whole bunch. A whole bunch. Split second decision was made in the store - all or nothing - and I walked away with nothing but memories and photographs.
And finally after all the purchases were made at the papyrus store, we drove to the famous Khan El Kahlili market, their premier bazaar. Inside the bazaar is an air-conditioned shop - mall like - that's called shopping center, that's where the sign was snapped.


We were dropped at the entrance - this side by the square - by Iman and was told to meet her here in one hour. One hour to shop. I felt rushed. Too many things to see. Too many sounds and smells to take in at one time. Too many shiny things. Shopkeepers tugging at your shirt. And prices were high for my taste. Too touristy. Didn't see any single Egyptian-looking buyer/shopper while we were there. Darn tourists, they drive the prices way too high :D

Eventually we snagged some small souvenirs - the usual magnets - and then decided to quit shopping. Along the entry, you'd find a row of eateries with outdoor seating. Hubs and I agreed that it's time to eat. It's late and outside of the banana and cookie we had outside of the Museum of Antiquities while waiting for the bus, we didn't have anything else to eat and he was eager to sample some real Egyptian eats. So was I. So we chose one of those eateries and sat outdoors watching other tourists eat and take pictures while they eat. Ambulant vendors come and bug you to buy their products. Part of the experience I'd say.

We ordered one "combo meal". Yes they do have that. It's a kofta with pita bread, green salad, and french fries. Yes, french fries I kid you not!!!!! We also ordered coffee, they know how to make coffee out there.

The food was delicious and filling. We just had to chew fast and hard because from where we were eating we could spot our group already congregating at the meeting place ready to leave.

I am sad that I didn't really experience the bazaar in its entirety and in daylight.

The bazaar was on the other side of the train station, Ramses station, and we had to hurry and catch our 9 pm Express train. On the way we passed by vibrant Cairo city life. Streets shimmering in the glow of incandescent bulbs. People everywhere, walking on the sidewalks, on the roadway, shopping. Then we passed by a city block that looked as if it got converted into an open air market at night. I've never seen so many people in one place before where there are no opposing teams vying for the ball. It was madness and I would love to be in the middle of it all.

Cairo - I barely scratch the surface, actually not even that. I just had a whiff of your charm. I want to go back and visit with you again. May I?

Without our Arabic-speaking friends who opted to stay overnight in Cairo, we easily managed to get first-class train tickets by approaching a tourist police. It was past midnight when we arrived back in Alexandria, hungry, tired, and sticky, but fulfilled.

Alexandria is next so tune in.

18 comments:

  1. A combo and not enough time to enjoy it. Oh well, that is going with tour groups for you. Or what I imagine it to be, since I have never been in a tour group.

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  2. You see that plant that the guy is showing? That's what's used to make papyrus and the ones behind him are the papyrus for sale. >>> i like papyrus art. my father worked in saudi before and he brought some home. im not sure though if those pieces are still intact in the province.

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  3. there's a KFC!:p your Combo looks sumptuous and the al fresco dining sounds exciting. too bad you didn't have enough time to shop and explore Cairo. a client in Riyadh told me Cairo is their (Saudis) playground.:p looking forward to your Alexandria post.

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  4. That food looks, soooooooooooooo good!

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  5. You've had experiences to last a lifetime, Maria!

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  6. There's a lot of food like that here. My most fave is the shish taouk. I am not very intent on getting souvenirs (most of the time), but I do take a LOT of photos. I think you already know that part. :)

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  7. oh papyrus! we used to study that in history before. may KFC pala dun no? hehe. and same ng road ang horses at vehicles haha.

    1hr lang for shopping? pressure! hihihi! :P

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  8. I love the Khan El Kahlili bazaar! Did you get lost there? :-)

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  9. i was laughing at the KFC place. was it busy? i love how you captured the busy streets and stores. i'm sure you'll go back :).

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  10. Cairo looks like an exciting city to visit but I think one day is not long enough to explore a city so rich in history and culture. Lovely post and photos!

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  11. That picture of the market looks very interesting. I sure would have a browse there if I could. So did you feel transported in time while there?

    What are your plans for the weekend?

    Thanks for visiting Norwich Daily Photo and leaving your comment. Come visit again tomorrow!

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  12. I always wanted to visit those bazaars! my 12-year-old self always believe that Aladin is real.

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  13. Great series of posts. Very interesting.

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  14. You seem having spent a fabulous time in Egypt.
    Your pictures are superb!
    All the best.

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  15. Nice and interesting sequence, Maria. I seem to see a sundial on the right in the first image. Beautiful the shops.
    Happy Sunday!

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  16. It is always good to see the world through your eyes. Too bad you didn't have much time in Cairo. I have a feeling you'll be back there sooner than you think :)

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  17. too touristy and high prices but food is great. I scored nice papyrus paintings which I framed here - up to now still graces my living room :)

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  18. whew! that was one tough and tiring tour! ^0^
    but that's just the way it is.
    the sniffing, the shopping, the tourists...haha, part of traveling
    but reading your adventure was always fun and informative.

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