Usually when we visit a foreign city we’re a little apprehensive because of concern about street crime, pickpockets or getting lost in a bad neighborhood. On a brief jaunt around the island of Zamelek in Cairo, the area in which we’re staying, there was none of that. My palms got sweaty trying to cross the street.
If you know anything about Cairo, you’ve probably heard that traffic is a nightmare. It’s not an exaggeration. As one of our drivers said, the lines on the roads are just for decoration. New York traffic is crazy, but at least a pedestrian can cross at a traffic light. Here the lights just blink yellow and don’t seem to have any impact on drivers.
One crosses by making eye contact with a driver and getting a feel that they’ll stop for you. Another good tactic for tourists is to cross with a local who does the work for you. We successfully crossed several streets using those methods.
That said, I like the vibe of the city. As noted, we’re staying in Zamalek, which is an island within the city and is somewhat higher end, with numerous embassies and schools nearby. There are also plenty of restaurants, cafes and shops. We even popped into an art gallery showing some nice work.
The welcome dinner for our tour was held at a nearby restaurant called La Bodega that served Mediterranean food with a Cuban beat playing in the background. There was an event taking place in the adjacent bar which filled up as we dined with hipsters dressed mostly in black. It’s cool how some things are universal.
We’ll be back in Cairo to end the trip. Maybe we’ll even cross another street!