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In Egypt: Islamic Cairo


I admit I’m not a fan of Cairo. The big exception is the area known as Islamic Cairo, the medina-like medieval city with its remarkable ancient buildings, markets, narrow streets and traffic-free strolling.

My first choice would have been to stay in the area but I found no hotels in my searches except a posh place, Le Riad, a “Hotel De Charme" that online reviewers had praised. The hotel’s Facebook page announced “Closed for Renewale” alongside “We are open.” A look into their ground floor windows as I passed by found it seemingly deserted, no sign they were either open or that there was an ongoing “renewale.”  A mystery.

After a 3rd day spent, in part, crawling through Cairo traffic, I was happy to be out of the monumental congestion of the roads and on foot in the company of my trusty guide, Ahmed. We’d made our slow way across the city from my hotel in Zamalek to an underground parking garage, then into a taxi for the short ride to the ancient Bab al-Futah entrance to the old city at the top of Al-Muizz Street, the main drag running north-south.

Bab al-Futah

We proceeded south, stopping at one place, then another, as Ahmed looked for the best lemons for his wife to pickle.

Above, the best lemons.


A brief visit to the Textile Museum…


Linen Loincloth, c. 1332 - 1322 BC
“…one of 145 found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen…formed of two triangular pieces sewn together down the middle…a string was attached…to tie the garment round the waist in front.”


Linen Baby Tunic, 4th century AD
“…decorated with fine tapestry stripes in purple wool…”


…and a meander through the Khan Al-Khalili Market.


Last stop for the day was for pancakes, Egyptian pancakes, 2 kinds shared with Ahmed, one with meat, one cheese. He had coffee, I had fresh lemon juice, like lemonade, a drink I’d have again and again, the length of the country.


Ahmed Gamal, Egypt Tour Guide Extraordinaire,
can be reached by email,


All episodes of 'PortMoresby in Egypt' can be found here.




Find others of PortMoresby’s contributions here.





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