Cairo you make me smile when I think of you.
A city that is home to 23 million people, over 2000 Mosques whose turrets dot the skyline amongst apartments, office buildings and motorways. This city is a lively one and well worth a visit just for the experience of such a busy, chaotic and at the same time charming city
When I first saw Tahrir Square it looked so different to the images I had seen on the nightly news in 2011 and 2013. Perhaps the absence of millions of people crowded into the square and main roads during the revolution was why. My guide showed me a video from the 2013 revolution, like so many others he and his friends went to the square to bring about change they strongly believed was needed. The 2013 revolution was much larger than 2011 and really shows what can happen when people unite for a single cause, Muslim, Christian, men and women standing strong together. It was quite surreal to be standing exactly where this extraordinary event took place and discussing it with someone who was actually there. As I looked out over the square it was like looking at a completely different place compared to what I had seen on the news. The grand old Egyptian Museum can be seen with people just going on about their business as normal. However behind the museum you can see the charred remains of a ministry building set on fire in the 2011 revolutions, a stark reminder that something big went down.
Recently I watched a documentary film by Jehane Noujaim named The Square that followed the lives of four Egyptians from the 2011 uprising right up to July 2013. This documentary which is banned in Egypt and nominated for an Oscar in 2014 gives a very honest and balanced account of events. After watching this film and the conversation with my guides I can really understand why the revolutions needed to happen and have the highest respect for the Egyptian people who marched to the square to end a regime in 2011 and a failed president in 2013.
Cairo has a certain hum to it mainly consisting of traffic and car horns which is interrupted through out the day with the call to prayer. Cars are not the only wheels on these busy streets, horse and carts, mopeds and fresh pita bred being transported by foot or bicycle will cross your path. As you wander along the streets you will come across shoe shiners and market stalls selling everything from fresh vegetables to souvenirs.
You can stop for a wonderful cup of coffee, indulge in an apple shisha and watch life in Cairo pass you by at one of the many coffee shops through out the city. There is no shortage of great places to eat and Egyptian cuisine is certainly one the countries great experiences as is the hospitality shown.
When you visit Egypt make sure you take some time to explore this amazing city filled with so many people who are passionate about their vision for the future and love to make visitors feel welcome. Next time I travel to Egypt I plan to spend more time in Cairo as I know there is so still so many things for me to experience.