Khan el Khalili, Cairo
Favorite thing: Allready before we reached Khan el Khalili, we got the feeling to be in an oriental town. The streetlife was very vivid. There were a lot of stalls and markets with all kinds of goods for sale, from cloth, plastic to exotic looking and smelling fruits and spices. We enjoyed to walk around and to get used to the city-life in an easy and natural way.
Islamic Cairo is not more or less Islamic than other parts of the city, but its unchanged atmosphere, the alleyways and the view at the many minarets make this area different from the other parts of Cairo.
From Khan El Khalily to the Citadel we took the Darb al-Ahmar. When you take this street, you can easily find your way. But you can also choose to explore some of the narrow side alleyways. This asks something more of your sense of direction.
In this street are a lot of local shops and stalls with clothing, plastics, spices and herbs.
When we visit a city, we buy a map and start to explore the city by foot.
So we did in Cairo. The first time we had a hotel near Midan Ramses and we decided to start with a walk to Khan el Khalili.
It was busy in the Clot Bey, the mainstreet we choosed. We liked it to feel the atmospere, to look at the people, the shops and the stalls and to discover the town at walking speed.
Favorite thing: I took both with me to Egypt. (I have been twice before) and have to say that the ROUGH GUIDE is a much better guide on all front. I found the current edition of Lonely Planet lacking in current info and also very thin reading. I have often thought that Lonely Planet is a bit overrated. ROugh Guide also has better writeups and historical perspective.
Fondest memory: The Han El Halili area:We soon found out that almost everyone there speaks Greek.I had the bad luck to realise that,after talking Greek rude to a local when he almost fall over me with his car. In my surprise, he kindly answered back in good greek telling me that i shouldnt be so tempered!!!!
KHAN EL KHALILI MARKET
Location: off El Azhar St.
The most famous of oriental bazaars, this is the place where you will find everything you could ever dream (except what you were really looking for!!). The merchents can be aggressive (always bargain down by 50%!), the crowds thick (pickpockets are rampant here), but still a must-see fo every tourist. The Oberoi Mena House has a small restaurant located near the entrance and is a great haven to escape the chaos. Hardcore shoppers should check out Ola Seif's 'Khan Al Khalili Mapped Guide'. Fans may be shocked to discover that a shopping mall complete with escalators (the first of its kind) is being build in the Khan El Khalili.
It's so hard to pin down one specific fondest memory. If I had to say one it would be the last night of our tour when we went out in Cairo. We first headed to the Khan el-Khalili and El Fishawy's for a little drink and a bit of shisha. It was just teeming with people and the atmosphere was buzzing with the festiveness of Ramadan. The locals were out and about enjoying themselves after a day of fasting and everyone was just having a good time. Our group sat and discussed our two weeks and reminisced about the things we had seen and done. After El Fishawy's we headed off in several taxis, racing on the way, to L'Aubergine for a few beers and the party continued there. Not willing to finish the night we eventually made our way back to our hotel where we filled the bar and talked and drank some more. You could tell we'd had a wonderful tour and cherished the time we'd spent together in Egypt.
Pictured is our tour leader Ian getting the first shisha of the night going, the gentleman with the tongs is adding the coals.
See theSufi Dancers. On Wednesday and Saturday nights from 9 pm (in summer and 9.30 h in winter), the Al Tannoura Egyptian Heritage Dance Troupe gives a 1.30 h display of Sufi dancing in the Madrassa of Al Ghouri in Islamic Cairo, close to Khan El Khalili.
Admission is free and it´s advisable to come early in winter as it gets very crowded. And once inside, I´d recommend to enter the last one to the performance room, as they usher the people from back to forth and so you can be in the first line!!!!
See Khan el-Khalili. One of the most amazing bazaars I've ever seen. Everything happens in this area. Some of the city's most impressive mosques are also in the area.
Fondest memory: Going to the Cairo Opera House to watch an Orchestra perform under the nights sky.