We’re less than a month away from departing Cairo which means many thoughts about looking forward, but also reflections of what we will miss. So in no particular order, 10 things I will miss about Cairo and Egypt:
- The Food–Not all the foreigners I talk to are impressed by Egyptian food, but I enjoy it a lot! From the carb fest of koshari (particularly topped with piles of sinfully fried onions!) to sugary sticky basbusa to smooth lentil soup to mahshi (rice and sometimes beef stuff vegetables) and falafel, I love it all! Luckily I had our housekeeper teach me to make most of it, so I should be able to duplicate (at least roughly!) all my favorites!
- Cheap Massages-Whether you get massages at a local place or have a woman come to your house, massage prices are excellent! Not as cheap as some countries, but I really can’t complain when I get a 90 minute massage IN MY HOUSE for $50 including tip. Not having to leave my house? WIN!
- DD’s School-There are some great school options here. We’ve been happy with DS’s preschool and very pleased with DD’s school. I love the interaction between grades, her teachers have been great, and it is nicely multicultural. Not to mention she has made some great friends.
- Ancient Egyptian Sites–Really, I could make a list of 10 reasons using just ancient Egyptian sites, but I will combine them into one. I love history. I love pyramids and mummies and pharaohs. There is so much to see here with new discoveries happening monthly. Driving past the Great Pyramids of Giza still gives me a thrill each time!
- Khan el Khalili and Islamic Cairo-I LOVE walking around the great souq of Khan el Khalili, winding my way down through Islamic Cairo to Tent Maker’s Alley, or wandering el Muezz St. I have my favorite shops with guys who recognize me, enjoy bargaining for items, and love seeing daily life unfold around me. It is chaotic but fun!
- The Beauty of Mosques—There are so many really beautiful mosques here. My favorite is Aqsunqur Mosque (or the Blue Mosque) with its gorgeous blue tile work. But I also thoroughly enjoy the mosques at the Citadel, Ibn Tulon Mosque, Al Azhar Mosque and all the other little ones you see all over.
- Cheap Travel within Egypt—When you can pay $150/night for 2 connecting rooms with breakfast at a five star hotel, you have it made! Five star lodging and dining is cheap here, particularly off season (though even high season is cheap compared to many other places). Who doesn’t want to relax by a pool overlooking the Nile with ancient tombs or the Valley of the Kings in the distance?
- Our Favorite Local Spots—If I want a night out, we’re headed to Frank and Co for wine and a plethora of shared appetizers/tapas. If I want a smoothie, vegetarian lunch, yoga or pilates, I’m headed to Osana Family Wellness. And if the kids want to play and eat brunch, we’re off to Beano’s Cafe. All of which we can walk to and are a win every time.
- Delivery (of anything!)–I love cheap delivery! For $0.50-$1, I can get dinner delivered from a huge range of places. For just the price of tip, I can call my local produce guy and have fresh fruits and vegetables delivered to my door. Out of milk? I just send a Whatsapp message to a guy at the local grocery store and he’ll deliver any groceries I need very quickly. Heck, if that store doesn’t carry it, he’ll go to another store and buy it there!
- Felucca Sails on the Nile—Lounging on a private sail boat as it sails peacefully up and down the Nile at sunset with a glass of wine and some snacks and friends? For less than $10 an hour? Yes, please!
Bonus: The Community in Our Building—Clearly I will miss all my friends I have made here and all the people who have made my life better! The fun thing is that there is always a good chance of overlapping again somewhere (someone we knew in Delhi is now here in Cairo and our daughters are very good friends!). But what I particularly will miss is the community within our building. It’s all Embassy families and we all help each other out. I forgot a few groceries yesterday and I sent out a message this morning and had THREE different people offer to pick them up when they were out today. At Xmas time the floors were crowded with kids running from apt to apt delivering things we were sharing–vanilla extract from A to B and then B might share an orange with apt C, meanwhile someone at D is at the store picking up items for apts A, E and F! Loaning, sharing, helping. Not to mention kids being able to run to their friends’ houses or play outside without tight supervision often needed in these places. Some neighborhoods in the US are like this, but they are growing fewer and farther between!