There has been plenty of focus on Egypt over the past few months since the historical revolution events of January. Being in the region, Egypt was one of the countries which we were both keen to visit. We had some initial apprehensions about visiting Egypt but by April it seemed things had stabilised, so we decided to visit Egypt in mid-May. Cairo was our first destination which is about a two and a half hour flight from Doha. We had planned to start from Cairo (Lower Egypt) and follow the Nile, travelling south to Luxor and Aswan (Upper Egypt).
We arrived in Cairo late afternoon and were immediately (and expectedly) ambushed by taxi drivers. On our way to our hostel our taxi driver had a small prang with another car. There was a bit of yelling, shouting in Arabic and eventually the cars went their own ways. The traffic in downtown Cairo was crazy. There are cars everywhere and the beeping was non-stop. Cairo’s Islamic Architecture is absolutely amazing though – it’s no wonder it is called the City of Minarets.
After checking in to the cosy Pension Roma, we dropped our backpacks and headed towards the main downtown area. We walked until we reached the historical Tahrir Square – only that morning we were watching the footage on Al Jazeera as some peaceful demonstrations took place!! Quite surreal. It was Friday which is the most important day for prayers in Islam world. As such, any demonstrations usually take place on the Friday, after prayers. A couple of men approached us as we were walking, small talking and eventually asking us to visit their papyrus shop. Despite all the violence that had taken place a few months ago at that same spot, Tahrir Square, on that day, was a bustling marketplace. There were street food-vendors selling tea and popcorn, people selling January 25th t-shirts, and plenty of people just there enjoying the atmosphere. There also seemed to be some focus on the Palestinian cause as we saw many Palestinian flags and had read that there would be some demonstration regarding this. Around the Tahrir Square area we saw lots of street art relating to the January revolts.
We continued walking towards to the Nile river, and up along the Kasr Al Nile Bridge, and back through the 6th October bridge. Though we had been briefed by my parents, Cairenes and other people who had visited Cairo, it was a lot noisier, busier than I had expected. We were stopped numerous times by people asking us where we were from, etc. After a few hours of exploring the city by foot we were quite exhausted and decided to head back to our hostel, on our way stopping at a delicious falafel shop.