Everything about Cairo is Special

Africa - Editor - 20 October 2006

Everything about Cairo is Special

There is no city in the world quite like Cairo and almost everything about it is special. Even before you land at the airport the magnificent sights of the mighty Nile River meandering through the city and the incredible Pyramids of Giza greet you - and you know you are here for real!

The various districts of the city are so different from each other that you cannot believe they can coexist so happily. Egypt is extremely well geared for tourism, the biggest contributor to the nation's economy. Despite the unfortunate sporadic bombing incidents, the major attractions are maintained excellently and efficiently run. Tourism police are available on the move everywhere. Drinking water and public toilets, both the bane of traveling in developing countries, are available every where.

The Pyramids need more than one viewing – one by day, where your luck decides if you can get inside one of them and which one. The three familiar structures are huge in close up and you wonder how they were ever built! The sound and light show by night is the most spectacular vision where the Sphinx 'narrates' the history of the Pyramids against the magnificent backdrop.

The Egyptian Museum is among the finest in the world and whatever length of time you may spend in it will be inadequate. A heritage and culture of thousands of years can hardly be appreciated in a day!

Spend an evening in the Khan al Khalili market, where a maze of little lanes and alleys, lined with every imaginable kind of shops and wares overwhelms all your senses. Full of haggling Egyptians, gawking tourists and persistent shop owners, the market has been this way since the 14th century. You cannot come away without parting with some ready in exchange for a silver trinket or perfume or whatever.

It is an unforgettable experience watching Sufi dancers whirl to the strains of intoxicating music. An abandoned mosque in the crowded old market district is the venue for this twice for a week – a not to be missed free performance! It is then that you realize that the most special thing about Cairo is the seamless blend of history into the present!


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