Cairo / egypt / Food. / Good Times / Tourism

Countdown!

3 days until I’m back in the USA! Not permanently, of course, but for a couple of weeks of cozy holiday cheer, family, friends, and probably stuffing my face.

(Ok, definitely stuffing my face.)

The last few weeks have been a wee bit busy with creating review worksheets, writing final exams, etc, but I’ve also managed to find a bit of time for reading and even hosting a brunch for some coworkers that ended up being more like brunch-brinner because we all just sat around talking for 8 hours. Success.

There has also been a bit of a mad rush on my end trying to find Christmas gifts for people to bring home. There’s plenty of STUFF here, the trouble is finding a) good quality and b) things that OTHER people would like. I always find a million things I would personally love, but not everyone has my taste, so I try to play it safe. (If you are on the receiving end of something and I have chosen poorly…try not to be too scornful. I’m a hopeless gift giver.)

So, thought I’d just throw out a couple of photos of some shopping trips that have resulted in small adventures, because I haven’t had much else up here lately. First up was a bazaar hosted by my own workplace–vendors varied from local Egyptian groups to vendors who hail from the same countries as our refugees, selling everything from handicrafts/jewelry/art to food. (Hint: I ate a lot of food. Too much food. It was awesome.)  We held this in our front courtyard, and also had some crafts for kids and eventually lots of music and some crazy good dance performances by the kids too.

Artwork for sale at our bazaar. If only canvases were easier to transport!

Artwork for sale at our bazaar. If only canvases were easier to transport!

A pair of these came home with me. I won't lie.

A pair of these came home with me. I won’t lie.

Paper cranes made/painted by some of our kids at the crafts table. That area was pure chaos for two hours or so. Woof.

Paper cranes made/painted by some of our kids at the crafts table. That area was pure chaos for two hours or so. Woof.

Adorable hand-carved animals! In retrospect I regret not buying them, even though neither I nor anyone I know *needs* them. They're adorable though.

Adorable hand-carved animals! In retrospect I regret not buying them, even though neither I nor anyone I know *needs* them. They’re so cute, though!

Sorry, no large/overall shots of that bazaar–kinda violates privacy to plaster photos on the internet that might have some of our clients in them. Anywho, also made a return to Khan al-Khalili to attempt to do some Christmas shopping a week or two ago. I hate being harassed by vendors so much that I practically didn’t look in a single store except glancing at windows, but I did wind my way back through some quiet alleyways until I found a couple of guys who work for a copper plate shop, one of whom was in the midst of etching a design onto a plate and let me take his photo while I chatted to his partner. They were extremely kind and invited me back any time. (They also thought I was Lebanese. So wrong, but so sweet.)

Hard at work.

Hard at work.

Tools of the trade.

Tools of the trade. Yes, the tea is a necessity.

Finally, today one of my roommates and I went back to the  Khan al-Khalili area to do some more shopping. First, we made a stop at that seriously freaking amazing Thai restaurant, although we had to roughly guess what we wanted to eat without our guide as he is now back home in Thailand (we miss you!) However, we managed to secure another amazing meal, and I really think I could eat there EVERY day.

Yesyesyesyesyesyesyes.

Yesyesyesyesyesyesyes.

Curry + Soup on a chilly day. It was so perfect.

Curry + Soup on a chilly day. It was so perfect.

Afterwards, we stopped in a shop I had heard about and wanted to investigate called Abd el Zaher Atelier–it’s Cairo’s last book binding store, and it is BEAUTIFUL. The store is easy enough to find, down a few old alleyways behind the landmark Al-Azhar mosque, and it has a lovely, cozy feel inside. Every shelf is full of handmade journals, notebooks, photo albums, agendas, and more–side rooms contain some beautiful artwork I’m planning on purchasing at a later point, and even some modern books not made in the store.  The store has been in operation for something like 70 years? And everything–including inscriptions on the covers–is still done by hand. It was so lovely. If you don’t hear from me again for a while, check the store room there first. (We were allowed to wander in there, by the way–stacks on stacks on stacks of journals waiting to be sold!)

A beautiful stone archway hugs together walls of writing materials you would drool over.

A beautiful stone archway hugs together walls of writing materials you would drool over.

Not the store room, but rather the inscription room. Unclear as to whether these books are already destined to be stamped, or if they were just sitting there...but they were colorful and fun.

Not the store room, but rather… the inscription room. Unclear as to whether these books are already destined to be stamped, or if they were just sitting there…but they were colorful and fun.

Printing letters waiting to be lined up in the stamping tool.

Printing letters waiting to be lined up in the stamping tool.

We then attempted to go to Khan al-Khalili, only to have the painful realization that, it being Sunday, all the shops we were hoping to hit were closed, as they are mainly owned by Christians. DOH. So, now I’m in a mild panic about where to get a couple more gifts before I roll out of here when I have work tomorrow and Tuesday…guess that’s what I get for procrastinating?

Enough rambling for now. See you kids on the flip side of the world!

-B

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