Cairo: City of a Thousand Minarets

As the aircraft steers towards the runway in Cairo, the sun beams through the small window accompanying my seat. From above I can vividly see minarets reaching out into the skyline from the hundreds or so mosques that line the streets of Cairo.

Onto the road, the city is no longer at a distance and it soon becomes apparent this ancient city possesses something unique.

Yalla Yalla! Come on shouts the traffic warden as I try to battle it out to get through the traffic onto the other side in order to reach the hotel.

As I get closer a young boy barely old enough to care for himself grabs my arm and attempts to escort me to a nearby café, as he ran all the way just for me, I accept but do not go until I check into the hotel, so then he waits outside.

I greet him again and he takes me, by this time the scorching August heat leaves me gasping, thus I rush and grab a bottle of water to quench my thirst. He kindly brings me a plate of Koshery (mixture of rice, spaghetti, spices and sauce) and I regain my energy ready to stroll through the city and digest its culture, people and eccentric atmosphere by night and of course the thrill of not knowing what exactly I will come upon.

I wander through the famous Khan El Khaleel Souk which dates back to the 13th century, the size of it is astronomical it goes on for miles, I see vendors selling an array of Sheeshas (smoking pipes) shouting over to their desired customers to come and have a look.

I then carry on, there are cafes more than a dozen to name, and the smell of strong coffee aromatizes the air blending in with the sheer heat

I walk towards downtown, the central district of Cairo; crowds of youths wander through the streets some exhausted from a hard days work, some on an outing with their friends. Cairo is one of the most densely populated cities in the world and its not hard to see, vast amounts of people fight over to get a seat on a bus, those who are unlucky stand squeezed together just leaving enough space to breathe.

I then descend upon the wonders of this great city the Nile. The heat is now not so stern as sunset approaches, where else could I be than upon the Nile watching the Sun disappearing into the horizon. I board a boat and now the city starts to come alive by night, music beams from the rear as it makes it way thorough the primeval waters of the Nile.

Two young women then start dancing to the beats, as they entertain themselves I gaze at the Cairo tower on my right then the bridge that runs over the river where huge amounts of people stand looking over, some smoking busy in chatter taking relief from the warm night breeze.

The two women modestly reside to their seats as we approach the end, I walk over towards the staircase leading back onto the bridge, and see a newly wed couple benign in their new marriage, they walk down alongside the river in their personal moment of fame.

I finish off the day by visiting the old city and inspecting the Islamic architecture of the Al Azhar Mosque, its grandeur and intricate details baffle me. Thousands of colours line the walls and verses from The Quran embed the walls and pillars. Women in their allotment spend their time running after the children keeping them at bay away from mischief while men succumb to prayer.

Cairo has a lot more to offer and what I saw during my short but mesmerising experience was a city full of grandeur, hospitality and of course its great phantom of history.

As I sit in the plane it ascends into the sky, I look out once again and see the city know as the city of a thousand minarets, fades beneath the clouds the memories remain etched in my mind.