Oct. 23: Cairo

This is the best I could do to take a picture of the interior stairwell of the building that houses our utterly charming hotel on the fifth floor. Kind of retro French Oriental. Large rooms with high, high ceilings. Exquisite middle eastern lights and tapestries.

Interior stairwell Talismen Hotel Cairo

It is on a busy pedestrian alley full of small shops spilling onto out on to the alley. Not at all a tourist area and fun to see the non-stop buzz of activity. Walking up the stairs one passes a tailor, a Singer sewing machine shop, apartments, locked doors.

One of shops on stairway of building that houses the Talisman Hotel in Cairo.

Museum of Antiquities today was magnificent. Building interior and display cases are in poor repair, but the artifacts themselves are astounding – I think even more so without the latest curatorial and exhibition techniques. Four thousand years old! Our guide could not be better. Missed seeing artifacts from my favourite Pharaoh, Akhenaten; rooms closed for renovation.

Lunch at Naguib Mahfouz’s favourite restaurant and then wandered through the bazaar area with the guidance of the wild and wonderful Cathryn Goddard, an American economist, who lives here and took us to places down tiny alleys and up hidden stairs, places we would never have found on our own.

A highlight of the day was visit to the Townhouse Gallery. Canadian owner has lived here for 27 years and both encourages artistic expression among local street kids and provides a venue for contemporary Egyptian artists, musicians and theatre groups. In a tough but vibrant part of town, William Wells has collaborated with his working class neighbors and made the entryway of one of his buildings available to them for the times during the day when the are called to prayer.

Part of library at Townhouse Gallery. All books various perspectives on women and the veil.

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