On our final day in Cairo, with Tony off doing his work thing, Anna Grace and I had great confidence that we could navigate the nearly 1.000 year old market without a guide. We have bargained our way through the souk in Sarajevo and the Grande Dame of markets, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, so we knew what to expect. (Though, because that was also the day the EgyptAir hijacking story was developing, we asked our driver to remain at the market while we shopped, as a precaution.)

Once upon a time Cairo was an Islamic, medieval walled city; today, three of the ancient gates remain, and it was through one of them that we began our adventure.
The doors of each gate were opened daily at 0500 in medieval times, and were closed each evening at sunset.  Best not to be running late.
Regrettably my notes do not contain the name of this mosque inside walled Cairo. Anna Grace and I found the courtyard to be exceptionally calming.

 

 

Leaving the mosque we followed our senses, past spice stalls and savory grills tucked down shabby lanes, trying desperately to take in everything around us.
“Everything,” that is, except for the horrid fresh-pressed sugar cane “soda” we thought would be fun to try. It was not fun to try.
Treasures were to be had along the main streets of the souk, if one sifted through the cheap, Chinese made tourist souvenirs.
We had to bring home one of these camels. Too cute.
We tucked down the old and narrow lanes instead, searching for our treasures.
Dozens of pretty little spots to enjoy mint tea tempted us until we gave in, and sat for the refreshing beverage along a rather French Bistro-looking lane.
Though Tajines are used across North Africa for cooking, they are not widely popular in Egypt, so I set my expectations accordingly as Anna Grace and I wandered the market in search of the cookware. As very good fortune would have it, I spied the dusty clay pot inside a small store.  I probably didn’t bargain for it as much as I could, or should have, but €20 (equivalent) seemed beyond reasonable for this latest addition to my kitchen!  Though hunger pangs had begun, and I now had the burden of carrying what felt like a 20kg weight through the market, we still managed to get sidetracked by a store selling delightfully fancy tea and coffee cup sets. I asked the proprietor if it was at all possible to purchase individual cups. He smiled, invited us to the back of the store and down creaking steps, to a room that glittered when he turned on the lights!
How I left the sparkly cave of wonder with only four tea glasses is a mystery.
Arms filled with purchases, while walking to the large and open square for lunch we spotted a mom carrying not a stuffed animal, but rather, her baby all bundled up and looking like a stuffed animal. Funny.

 

A typical meal of falafel, salad, hummus, pita, and mint lemonades.  And people watching.

 

While snacking, I thought I felt one of the pillows behind me shifting a bit, but thought little of it until we rose to leave the table, and discovered that one of the local kitties had cozied up behind me!  Just like the kitties in Istanbul!
All too soon it was time to connect with our driver. By this point of our holiday he was comfortable enough with us to take us back to the hotel via neighborhood roads rather than the highway, giving us a sample of local culture.  We idled away the remaining afternoon at the pool, then enjoyed a last delicious meal before heading back to Vienna in the morning.