Cairo is full of adventure and mystery and offers a lot for travellers and explorers. While it’s the most chaotic city I’ve come across, its beauty lies in the chaos itself. It is a 24-hour city with lots of energy and crowd.
The real Cairo is in the older part of the city. Amid all the ancient heritage monuments, mosques, synagogues and chaos, the first thing that struck me was that the people of this great city are very industrious. You can see individuals indulging in some form of business or the other. It’s because of the people of this city that it still retains its centuries-old culture.
Around and about
The Cairo Citystars InterContinental is my favourite because of its location in the main business area and proximity to the airport. The hotel is situated in a shopping and entertainment hub, so there’s enough over there to unwind after a day’s work. The Cairo Marriott is also great.
I’ve mostly rented a car from the hotel. Thank God, I didn’t have to drive because it can be nightmarish given the crowded streets. However, there is no dearth of local taxis which are quite cheap. There’s also a well-connected metro rail system in place.
Cairo is not the best place for vegetarians. The Khan-al-Khalili is a huge bazaar with a plethora of eating options.
Cairo is a shopping heaven as far as souvenirs are concerned. Though there is no dearth of malls, the vibrant bazaars are abundant in fancy carpets, perfumes, papyrus paintings, fabrics and other craft work.
To sit back and enjoy the calmness of the Nile, a cruise can be a great option. If you are adventurous like me, you should definitely try scuba diving. To get away from the hustle bustle of daily life, I recommend the pyramids. Coupled with a tour of the Sphinx and the sound and light show at night, it is a great experience.
Cairo’s night life is very energetic; it can bowl over even the most passive travellers. The city gets livelier at night and people come out to socialise amid lots of music and dancing which continues late into the night. There are plenty of bars and clubs that open throughout the night and the popular ones stage belly dancing and jazz as well.
(Co-ordinated by Angshumitra Chakraborty)
- Avoid driving: The city is best seen on foot.
- Cairo’s business area is separated from the main city. To see the city after work, keep in mind that you’ll have to budget extra time for travelling.
- Never try to persuade Cairo locals to join you for a drink; they may take offence.
(This article is excerpted from the latest Forbes India 09 October, 2009 issue which is now available at news stands and book stores. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com)