Scotsabroad's Weblog

December 30, 2007

A wee view from Al-Azhar Park

Filed under: Cairo — scotsabroad @ 3:44 pm

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Sometimes I tend to forget that we live in an incredible city. The size, scale and diversity of Cairo is often easy to forget living in the 5th Settlement and as we work for a living during term time – but during a holiday we are able to reach areas of the city, take some time to explore and reflect – and constantly use the word ‘awesome’. Today Shona asked me why I was so quiet and I didn’t have an answer. Sometimes living, working and driving in this city leaves me speechless.

Two days ago we drove to Wadi Degla, now a National Park, and only 20 minutes away from our house. I was there on Boxing Day for a run but took Shona and the boys up the slopes. Cairo found fossils of sea shells and the weather was warm. Although we could see the city skyline including a pyramid we felt very much alone and isolated in the wadi. Looking forward to getting the bikes up there when the babysitters arrive tonight. Managed to get the bike rack to fit the old Mercedes.

Yesterday we visited the Al-Azhar Park near the Citadel. We got to the entrance frazzled having had  another driving experience. Coincidentally: I’ m serious when I quote from an article in the Al Ahram newspaper today that had Dena Rashed’s driving tips for when in Cairo,  Don’t assume that the left lane is for fast cars: this is a free country; pick your lane, just don’t complain and Think, it is always a thrill to get home and realise you have actually made it alive, and it is even more thrilling when your car has not been scratched.  We went over and under a few roads while passing the park from different vantage points and forced another driver into the kerb. However, this turned out to be a splendid afternoon. From the park you can see much of the old wall (Ayyubid Wall)  once protecting the old city although they do seem to be renovating large chunks of it to look completely modern – like concrete icing. The park was created due to funding from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Coincidentally: while in Aswan we could see the prominent Aga Khan’s Mausoleum on the far bank where his widow (until the year 2000 when she popped- her- cloggs and joined him in the sarcophagus) placed a fresh red rose each day on his tomb. There is legend that once when no rose was available in Egypt a special delivery was flown in from abroad. However, if some of the Khan’s  money was used to create a park like Al Azhar perhaps we can forgive their indulgences in life and death.

These are views of the city from the park. We had lunch at the Citadel View Restaurant. An excellent bunk-hole in times of stress – they even pipe music through speakers dotted around the whole park but we tried to find areas that were not subjected to this. Kind of made me think (unkindly) of ‘The Prisoner’ and a huge white bubble chasing you along the sand? Very much in the minority as park full of Egyptian couples, happy families and a few groups celebrating birthdays and life in general with some singing and some loud banter. 

Happy New Year folks. No looking back. Indeed, over to Dina Rashed and another tip; Don’t be upset if your mirrors are repeatedly hit: the general assumption is that they are not part of the car. We will be thinking of family and friends tomorrow night. Please think of our home as yours ( just with unusual wiring and sporadic plumbing) and try to visit some time in 2008. Coincidentally …

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2 Comments »

  1. Happy New Year to you all!
    Those first couple of pictures left me speechless too.

    Comment by Wendy — January 2, 2008 @ 4:26 pm | Reply

  2. What an incredible experience your all having in Cairo.Photos are fab.

    Comment by Ann — January 24, 2008 @ 10:06 pm | Reply


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