Showing posts with label Christmas in Cairo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas in Cairo. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Cairo: A Christmas of Contrasts

'Twas almost the week before Christmas and all the nearby villages were decked out in their finest. . .

. . .simple and to-the-point decorations reminding us all. . .

. . .of the reason we celebrate Christmas whether on December 25th as we do where we are from or on January 6th as we've learned some Christians in Arabic countries do.

A couple of new virtual friends in Greece have been writing about the Greek tradition of lighting boat images or decorating boats at Christmas. Quite a beautiful tradition but not one that is practiced in our area of the Greek Peloponnese.

Perhaps that is because most of the fishing boats here have been pulled out of the small village harbors to protect them from the sometimes wild winter storms that kick waves over the concrete barriers. The few boats that remain are being used, as weather permitted for fishing and are devoid of decoration.

Thanks to our new FB friend, Robert Walker I can show you some of his photos of those boat decorations. I am using them with his permission.

Staying at our Stone House on the Hill was certainly a temptation this year as we love it and those villages around us. . .

. . . but as you recall, one of the reasons we wanted a base in Europe was to have access to other places. So last weekend. . .

Agios Nikolaos

. . .we drove to Athens and hopped an Egypt Air flight to Cairo.  This city of 24 million people, needless to say, is an absolute 180-degree contrast to the Greek villages in our area of the Mani which are populated by a few hundred people.

A shot of Cairo traffic from our balcony

So here we are in the big, no make that, enormous city, with a population demographic of about 85 percent Muslim and 15 percent Christian, just days before Christmas.  What you might find surprising is the amount of Christmas that can be found here. For example.

We are staying at the Cairo Marriott Hotel and Omar Khayyam Casino; this is one of two trees that grace the outside entry of the hotel.

The lobby is decked out as well

The Marriott is located on an island in the middle of the Nile River. Taking a stroll through the Zamarek neighborhood in which the hotel is located, is a sensory explosion of sounds, smells and sights.  It isn't for the faint-of-heart (walking anywhere in Cairo isn't for the faint of heart because there are no crossing lights and traffic doesn't stop for pedestrians - you dash, and I mean dash - between cars, but that's another story for another day.)

Our dasher, dancer, prancer walk on uneven - sometimes non-existent - sidewalks and across traffic took us through a rather posh area of the city where flower, specialty foods, clothing and delightful book stores lined the streets. As we wound our way back to the residential neighborhoods we happened upon a vendor selling both trees and poinsettias.

On our return to the hotel we found it to be an Episcopal Church  just a block away with a full slate of Christmas offerings.

Yesterday we headed to downtown Cairo to do some shopping. (the exchange rate is excellent with one Egyptian pound equal to 13-cents US).

But as often happens, we got sidetracked with exploring and found ourselves at a stately mosque, Al Rahma Mosque, right next to a similarly large and stately Armenian Catholic Church, the Cathedral of the Annunciation.  We were warmly greeted in the Mosque by one of the men doing some maintenance on the buildings interior.

Armenian Cathedral - Cairo
Then we visited the Cathedral where the doors were open and only another set of visitors was inside. (It does amaze us how even in big cities on this side of the Atlantic, churches are left open and in the States how many keep their doors locked for security reasons.)  Again, we found signs of Christmas:
Reason for the Season - Nativity Scene at the side of the nave

While our prelude to Christmas has been one of contrasts, it has also been one that removed the commercialism and hype from the holiday.  While it may sound rather unconventional, it may well be one of the best Christmas weeks we've ever celebrated. We plan to celebrate Christmas Eve at a Lebanese restaurant and Christmas Day will be spend on an airplane.

Where ever this finds you, we send our wishes for a happy holiday - whatever the holiday is that you are celebrating.  Merry Christmas wishes to those who do celebrate it. And to all of you, thanks for taking the time from your busy schedules to spend a few minutes with us.  We've seen a lot of new visitors here and want to welcome you. And a big shout out to those who shared last week's post in your social media. . .that meant a lot and it is nice you find TravelnWrite worth sharing!!

Happy holidays and safe travels to you and yours!

Linking up this week:
Photo Friday
Travel Photo Thursday
Wordless Wednesday
Our World Tuesday
Mosaic Monday
Through My Lens


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