Thursday, November 02, 2006

Mosques and Markets

Day 12
Back in Cairo, back to Pharoahs Hotel and my full pack! All that mozzy spray I've been missing for the past several days! Shady abandoned us and went home, as we headed off as a group to Islamic Cairo, an area in the East of the city that has huge shopping bazaars. To be honest, I had no interest in shopping, though I knew I needed to do a little, but hey, group activities etc. On arrival, it was decided to lunch, but I was still stuffed with dry bread, so I left them and entered the large mosque in the square of the restaurant. Shoes off, and look solemn. Mosque was pretty, but faded inside. I liked the enormous brassy chandelier in the middle of the room which was populated with small energy-saving bulbs! Hundreds of them!

Wandered shops for a while with the group, then headed off on my own to find the Islamic Museum, which is supposed to have the best Islamic art. Asking for directions in English rarely yields results, but the fifth or so person told me that it was closed for renovation. I did however wander along the street with most of the signicant mosques and buildings in the area. Unfortunately with no LP, I hadn't the foggiest what anything was, so anything deeper than "ooh look that's pretty" was lost on me!

Carried on wandering, navigating with the sun towards hotel (no map), and came across the tube. A bit of investigation confirmed that I could tube it back to Dokki station, which should be near our hotel. Buying tickets (1E£) was a bit of a chore, but then it was easy. Down on to the platforn next to the front of a train pulling in. Hmmm. Seems like a lot of women in this carriage and no men. Perhaps it's a women-only carriage. Let's dash along and try the next one. Lots of women too. Perhaps a WI meeting has just finished somewhere and all the men are at work? I jump on, only to have a woman tutting and wagging her finger. This too, is women-only! I leap off as the doors close, and see the third normal carriage heaving with blokes in contorted squashed against the glass positions. Womens lib is here!

Next train took me back to Dokki. Came out, no map of the area and no obvious signs of all the bits I recognise. So again I rely on the setting sun, and bump into several of the gang just near the hotel. Shady turned up at 8pm and we all went out to eat. He took us to a very nice Lebanese restaurant in the Sheraton. Given the venue and quality of the food it was amazingly cheap. And a belly dancer thrown in for free!

After we cabbed to Sequioa, a swanky waterside bar. There were some "Ilford" girls next to us with some Egyptian blokes, who didn't seem to know each other (so how did that come about, eh?!), and a famous Egyptian popstar on the other side (obviously I had no idea who she was!). One of the Ilford girls reminded me of Shangita somehow, hehe! Back to hotel, but some of us wanted to finish the last night of the tour in style, so we headed off to a club. This didn't work out, so we went, in Shady's car, to his area, Heliopolis. This turned out to be miles away, almost back to the airport! He rang a friend and had a pool and playstation club opened up for us! Bizarre experience! Home at 5am, and up in 4 1/2 hours to say bye to everyone! I need sleeeeeep!

No comments: