The true definition of walking like an Egyptian lies not only in the Pharaonic era of Egypt, but in the more recent remnant specks of history that narrate what we once were, and what we have become. Cairo is peppered with many of these specks, in various forms. Each facet of life is embodied in an unrestored mosque, or old palace ruins, or even a ful w falafel cart passed on through generations. It is never enough to gaze at a city and be sure that you have absorbed all of its wonders because more often than not, what meets the eye is far from reality. However, talking to its people and understanding the context behind each facet will give you an overview of the unique culture at hand.
Helping us unravel the hidden gems and stories of Egypt is travel and tour guide company, Walk Like an Egyptian. With an authentic passion in showing the world that Egypt is full of beautiful sights and rich history, they organise weekly tours in gorgeous, underrated locations around the country. This week, we were lucky enough to be escorted through Islamic Cairo, meeting at the iconic Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, travelling through Bab Wazir Street to enter Bab Zuweila (the main entrance to Cairo city previously), and finishing at Al-Azhar Mosque.
While the locals were mocking us for appreciating a flight of stairs, taking photographs of ruins they deem as rubbish tips, and even posing in front of the ful cart, we became acquainted with stories of royals who built and destroyed parts of the city to fulfil their personal agendas. We also became acquainted with and even appreciated the little crunches found in baladi bread as we ate from the local ful cart - mostly because no other place in the world offers pita bread with such a crunch!
Overall, sometimes it helps to view one’s country from the eyes of a foreigner; appreciating the historical chronicles with the trivial joys of today that enrich a place from its core. We no longer regret arriving at 8:15 in the morning on our day off.
Check out the stunning photos below. Photography by Muhammed Mortada.