On Wednesday, I participated in my second ever CSA tour. This one was a tour of Maadi designed for newcomers. I know, I've been here for around three months now, but I really haven't explored a whole lot, so I wanted to see what else is out there. It was a good tour.
Lauren and I walked down to CSA in time for the tour to start at 9am. We actually got on the bus around 9:20, which is a fairly typical delay. Our guide was Mrs. Magda, who helpfully gave us a map of Maadi and a handout with a list of shops and her cell phone number. She told us to call her anytime we can't find a shop or service for what we need. (In general, CSA guides are very good and very friendly, but I tend to think that giving out the cell number . . . or mobile --pronounced mo-BILE here--is above and beyond.)
So we all piled on the bus and took off. Our first stop was SEEgypt, a travel agency. We were given handouts of things to do in Cairo, and we heard about a cookbook, compiled by the SEEgypt lady and Mrs. Magda, that contains all authentic Egyptian recipes. I'm considering going by to buy one, but I think I'll wait until I can take CSA's Egyptian cooking class and see how I like that first.
Anyway, after SEEgypt, we went all over Maadi and stopped at various types of shops. We were given free samples at a yummy pastry shop called Lanandine, on El Nasr Street. We drove by an office with a variety of medical doctors who tend to use Western standards. We saw samples of what was available from a fishmonger. A couple of restaurants and bakers were pointed out and recommended, as were barbers and hairstylists. Of course, there also were shops for clothing, home decor, and gifts.
We stopped and looked around in The Bookshop on El-Lasilki. Of course, this was one of my favorite stops. The shop was large by local standards, and most of the books were in English. There was a good variety, too--fiction, history, travel, even some about American politics. And there was a coffee shop inside :-) It doesn't get much better than that for a bookstore. Jeff and I probably will explore this shop a little more thoroughly at some point.
We went up and down Road 9, with which I'm fairly familiar already. Then we went across the flyover (for some reason, that's what we call the bridges over the metro tracks), where I haven't done any exploring at all. We stopped at a home linens shop just off Road 153. Mrs. Magda pointed out that a lot of their products were for export, so they had colors and patterns that Westerners tend to like but that Egyptians don't usually want. I was very impressed with the quality, prices, and variety. Of course everything was Egyptian cotton. I bought a small pillow that I thought the kittens might like in their basket . . . turns out, it was too thick for the basket; there wasn't enough room for the cat to sit on the pillow in the basket. And because it's so thick and cushy, it's very rounded on top, so the kittens slide off it if they try to lie on it . . . but it's a very nice pillow; it'll end up on the guest bed or maybe even just on the loveseat.
Mrs. Magda also pointed out a tailor that I may want to try . . . I forget his name; she said that she calls him "Same-same." That's because people who have clothing made often want one just like one they have, but in different fabric. So they bring him the new fabric and the old garment, and he uses the new fabric to make another one that's same-same as the old one. I like this idea, because I have a couple of shirts that I really like, except that they're sleeveless, so I won't wear them here without a jacket, and it's still too hot for that. So I'm considering have some more made, same-same, except that I'd want sleeves that are same-same from another shirt. I assume he could mix and match like that.
Then we went up to Khalifa ... yum. It's an ice cream shop. Well worth taking Jeff to. Good ice cream for only . . . what was it? LE2? LE3? Anyway, less than one U. S. dollar. But the most unusual part of the tour for me was something that happened on the way up Road 105. I had heard about traffic having to stop for herds of goats here, but I hadn't seen it . . . now I have! I didn't have my camera with me, but Lauren pulled out her camera and got a short video of the goats streaming by the bus. She wasn't able to get it out soon enough to get the whole herd approaching the bus, but still . . . it was an event. You can see the video here.
So the tour was both enjoyable and useful. Some of my previous finds were reinforced as good ones, and some new good ones were added to the list.