Cairo - as seen in 2009

Cairo. What can you say. But it isn't just the capital of Egypt - it is Egypt. Egyptians use the same word for Cairo as for Egypt itself - "misr" arabic.

Greater Cairo is actually made up of three Governorates - Cairo itself, Giza (on the west side of the Nile), and Qalyobiya, plus parts of new cities in the Governorates of 6th of October and Helwan. The population is over 17 million and growing at over 2% a year. It is the biggest city in Africa and growing fast.

It is crowded. It is noisy. It is dirty. But it has a charm all of its own. It feels like a safe city - maybe it is the lack of gangs of drunken youths roaming the streets. (Yes, you can have fun for two weeks without drinking any alcohol).

Street scene.
Street scene - horses and vans, bikes and cars
Shisha at night.
Locals with shisha at night

Cairo is a city of contrasts:

Old Cairo.
Old Cairo as viewed from Citadel
New buildings in Giza.
New buildings in Giza obscuring the pyramids
Pizza Hut.
Pizza Hut is more common than kushari


Building is everywhere. Many rooftops have the outline of a new apartment - ready for the next son to move into. They are not completed before needed for a number of reasons including taxes and the invitation of ghosts into an empty building!
The next level is just waiting


If there is one lasting impression I'll take away from Cairo it would be the traffic. So much - but so aware of everyone one else. The road near our hotel in Giza was 17km long with only one place for pedestrians to cross. But you could (and I did) cross eight "lanes" of traffic by stepping out and raising your hand. Try that elsewhere (I did in Sydney, slightly jet lagged and the result was a little different from what I was expecting!)

Buses, and more often microbuses, take about a third of the people. Private cars make up only about 13% of the traffic. These, and a small number of taxis, weave all over the unmarked roads, honking their horns continuously.

Over a third walk as their main means of transport. Well, apart from the tot tots - which will give you a lift around the neighbourhood for a few piastres. If you want to know how to walk like an Egyptian - you don't - you ride.

And then there are the donkey carts - and the occasional el hantour (horse taxi).

Street scene.
Mixed transport styles
Donkey cart.
Donkey cart
Tot tot.
Tot tot

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