Oct, 26th, 2007 – Cosmopolitan Hotel Room

Cairo Travel Blog

 › entry 11 of 27 › view all entries

Today on my walk to Arabic class, a shop merchant pleaded with me to stop (which is typical – with every ten steps another person is always calling for you). I usually stay focused on my task of “walking to school” because I learned by experience (a little over a week now) that once you look anyone in the eye or engage them you’re screwed, unless you want to waste fifteen minutes on a sales pitch or story. You’re either stuck listening or forced to be rude.

This particular salesman said, “My name is Oscar, not Ali Baba. No worries – for you, good price.” I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. Then as I kept moving along another gentleman said, “Come into my shop, it’s free, free for looking.” Then he cracked up. Another street merchant a few more doors down said, “Walk like an Egyptian…you know, like the song in America! Walk like an Egyptian into my store.” And then he started doing the Walk like an Egyptian dance. The Egyptians love their humor.

Tonight, after days of not having a functional shower (low water pressure, cold water) I again felt like leaving Cairo and its 80-degree temperatures, sleepless nights, bad food, etc. It wasn’t fun anymore. Then I was invited to join some Europeans at a restaurant on the Nile. From this scenic, fancy restaurant I spotted the Hilton Nile Hotel standing strong and beautiful in the distance and I got an idea: “I will move to the Hilton Hotel and solve all my problems. I will splurge! I will have a clean fresh smelling room with a toilet AND shower that function properly and perhaps a room that is not facing a street that never sleeps. I will have a view of the Nile AND a swimming pool.” I decided to check it out the next day.

Today I also discovered a fabulous European café across the street from the American University of Cairo (AUC). They serve lattes, pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and salads. This is a major coup for me. I will now have a great place to study and make foreign friends. It is much better than Groppi, because this is like a European café as opposed to a Middle Eastern one, so their menu is far better and they play fabulous music and have wonderful art on the walls.

Most of the people here are from Europe, UAE or Russia, learning Arabic and/or studying Islam. The women are dressed in casual clothes and actually show their arms and some of their shoulders – gasp! The best outfit I witnessed was in a group of four Muslim women who were wearing the hijabs and the blousy shirts and baggy pants/skirts, but one of them was wearing her hijab with a tight-fitting Playboy bunny shirt and jeans. I could imagine her leaving her house in proper clothes, saying good-bye to her parents and then changing for school and back again when she returned home in the evening! I enjoyed my second decent meal in ten days – penne carbonara. The menu actually says, “Get the taste of home.” Which was true. It was delicious! It is triple the price compared to the Arabic restaurants but it’s worth it ( penne carbonara lunch US$7.00). I even had one of the waiters help me with my homework, conjugating verbs and making simple sentences out of six adjectives. ;0

There are about five tables downstairs and twenty upstairs, almost all of them filled with students studying and socializing. I love it! This is will be my new hang out.

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photo by: vulindlela