. . .Just kicking down the cobble stones
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy. . .
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy. . .
-- 59th Street Bridge Song
We set out on foot – one of our favorite ways to explore any place -- but especially Cairo, Egypt where we spent three mid-December days. Past the entryway Christmas tree that greeted guests at the Cairo Marriot Hotel -- cleverly built around the historic Gezira Palace – we were off to revisit the Zamelik neighborhood in which the hotel is located.
Just past the guard house at the hotel’s entry gate – with its armed officers and a leashed German Shepherd that check all arriving vehicles - we were greeted by a bevy of taxi cab drivers each offering ‘a good deal’ to the Pyramids and Sphinx or anywhere we might want to go. They spoke English and didn’t badger once we explained we were going no further than our feet could take us.
|Cairo Marriott Hotel entryway is part of the old palace|
This is the second time we’ve used Cairo as a ‘gateway city’ from which to return to the United States after a stay at The Stone House on The Hill. So both times we’ve arrived here from our laid-back rural area of Greece and have been jarred by the sheer size of this city with a population hovering at 20 million. The sprawling megalopolis is often blanketed in morning smog, traffic is continuously horrendous, and yet it has such a charm that it keeps bringing us back.
|Gezira, means island, and that's were we stayed in Cairo|
|Gezira island - Wikipedia photo|
|Can't always walk between parked cars in Cairo|
|The displays in this store are a work of art|
|No doubt about what this store sells!|
|Eateries tease with aromas and displays|
|A florist shop display extends into the street in Cairo's Zamelik district|
|Roasted yam, anyone?|
Bread and roasted yams brought a new meaning to ‘fast food’.
|Bread for sale|
|A secret garden filled with flowers and statues|
|Mansions and villas lined some streets|
|Other streets had high density housing|
*First, is to be educated about where we are. We read up on the place in advance of our arrival. Novels set in the area provide a bit of history and contemporary color, guidebooks, travel blogs and on-line articles and traveler’s reviews are all part of the pre-travel research we do. We heed the advice of others. There are Cairo neighborhoods we wouldn’t explore on foot - just like there are places in Miami, Chicago and Seattle we’d avoid.
*We get a city map from the hotel concierge, discuss where the hotel is located on the map and where we are thinking of walking. We heed his/her recommendations and warnings.
*We dress conservatively and try not to call attention to ourselves. In Cairo that meant wearing long dark pants, not jeans, and shirts with sleeves. I wear or carry a scarf just in case I need one to cover my head and shoulders to enter a mosque. As much as we love our sports teams back in the Northwest, we would never wear sports logo clothing when traveling abroad. Nothing targets you more as “American” than a bright colored tee-shirt with a sports logo emblazoned on it.
*We carry local currency in small denominations in case we do need to catch a taxi back to the hotel. If the map doesn’t have the hotel’s name and address on it written in the local language we carry a business card with it on it on the off chance we find ourselves needing to ask directions.
*As much as I want to snap photos, I limit the times I pull out the camera or phone. That is another act, that screams out "tourist". And I ask permission if a person might be identified in the photo. Besides being considerate of the individual, this saves embarrassing moments as I’ve encountered some who say yes to a photo but want to be paid for having their photo taken. . .I don’t pay for photos.
|The Nile from the Marriott hotel|
That’s it for this week. This is our last post of the year for 2016. We thank you for joining us on our adventures this year and look forward to new destinations and experiences next year. The time you spend with us is always appreciated! Our wishes for a happy and healthy New Year ~
Linking up this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Travel Photo Thursday