Apologies for the long delay in sharing our adventures in Egypt and England last April/May. My excuse is plunging into creation of our brand new library district (approved by voters last November, hurrah!) immediately upon my return. Setting up a new local government entity turns out to be an all consuming enterprise. With a bit of a break over the 4th of July, here goes the blog…
We departed Denver on the evening of Wednesday, April 26, flying from a fancy new gate on DIA’s Concourse A (where United has recently been expanding its footprint). We were on a non-stop to Munich, and tried out United’s new Premium Plus seating for this long overnight leg. The seats were actually wide enough to be relatively comfortable, with more room to recline (which Matt appreciates) and the “hot meal” was surprisingly good. Matt snagged our seats at a relatively low upgrade cost, which made the passage even sweeter. The flight was (thankfully) uneventful.
We arrived in Munich ~ 2pm and had a seven hour layover before our 9:30pm Lufthansa flight to Cairo. Fortunately, Matt’s persistence in achieving Million Miler status a few years ago (I shudder to think of all those hours crammed into an airplane) means that we have access to Star Alliance Clubs, and the European clubs are usually great. (The US clubs, not so much.)
The Club in Munich was outstanding. My favorite feature was a murky, quiet room with cushioned couches in semi-private cubicles, perfect for snoozing.
There were also showers, a variety of food choices, lots of Bier com Fass (it is Germany, after all), and lovely lounge areas that were very quiet – sheer bliss after a long trans-atlantic flight. I dozed, read, and finished binge-watching Perry Mason. (What else ya gonna do on a two day voyage?)
Munich’s airport is gleamingly modern and was surprisingly empty as we made our way to the gate. But passengers eventuallystreamed in, and the flight was somehow full by the time we got to lift-off. Good for Egypt’s tourism!
We arrived in Cairo a little after 2am on Friday, April 28. After a surprisingly quick transit through passport control and customs (how things have changed!), we collected our luggage and navigated through the mob of “Taxi?” calls to wait on the street for Mr. Kwais, the regular driver for our friends Moshira and Hassan. Cairo at 3am is relatively quiet, but still quite lively by US standards: Um al-Dunya (the Mother of the World) never really sleeps.
Moshira and Hassan were warmly welcoming as always. After greetings and essentials (like unloading the all important bags of cat treats for Sugar and Smith, stuffed in my “coming to Egypt – what do you need?” suitcase), we tumbled into bed. We fell asleep to the sweet sound of the adhan, the muezzin’s early morning call to prayer.
Below are a couple of pictures of Moshi and Hassan’s house in Al Manial, an old Cairo neighborhood on the island of Rhoda. Sadly, the large backyard garden gets very little sun these days, as highrises now surround the building on all sides.
We slept in until about 10:30, had tea and fatar with Moshi, Hassan and the cats, then chit-chatted while unpacking the horde of toys I schlepped over for Youssef, their 9 month old grandson. Ahmed (their son), Raina (Ahmed’s wife) and Youssef came over in the late afternoon with their Sudanese maid, Patrice. Ahmed had spent many hours searching for developmental and educational toys, and we had several hours of entertainment watching Youssef explore each new toy. He is a delightful child – just like his dad.
After way too much dinner (Egyptian hospitality!), Youssef and his parents headed home and Moshira, Matt and I made a night-time expedition to al-Azhar Park, one of my favorite places.
Azhar Park was created by the Aga Khan Trust about 20 years ago, as part of an urban renewal project for impoverished and poorly preserved Darb al Ahmar, the heart of medieval Cairo (located along the park’s western boundary). it was constructed on top of a multi-story trash heap that had built up over centuries as folks tossed all kinds of rubbish over the city wall. The park is gorgeous, designed around historic Islamic architecture/landscape architecture, which uses water features and plantings to great effect. The park opened to great fanfare when I was living in Cairo, but access then seemed restricted to the well-off. On our visit Friday night, I was really pleased to see multi-generational families from all sorts of backgrounds strolling the walks, picnicking on the lawns and just generally enjoying this lovely urban oasis.