Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Relatives from Winnipeg!

Our first group of international guests were cousins from not only Winnipeg, but our old neighborhood - 3 blocks from our old house.  They have just finished a 3 month trip to Thailand and Nepal and got a free stopover in Cairo.

Here they are with Arthur outside of the Egyptian Museum.

We weren't allowed to take cameras into the Museum, 
so one of our guests got out a sketch pad and started working. 
 (Hmmm. I wonder who took this photo... and with what...)

Cousins on a felluca on the Nile.

No trip to Egypt is complete without time at the pyramids of Giza.

Climbing is allowed in one section.

We had a lot of fun with them.
The day they left and we returned to our flat, 
it was quiet, empty and big.
We missed them.

But with fewer people around using electronic devices.... 
the wifi was much faster!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

I Yarn For You....

....wool you be my Valentine?

On Valentine's Day our coworker showed us not one, but two great wool shops in our area.  They are both about a 7 minute walk from our office -- easily walkable on a lunch break. 

The yarn is mostly from Turkey. There is some 100% wool and lots of acrylic blends, of course. I've been itching to knit something-- anything-- for the past few weeks so I bought a cotton (55%) acrylic (45%) blend. 100 g for less than $3.00.

It is knitting up pretty nicely and feels good. As you can see, I've already knit up 4 little bags.  I'm finding knitting quite therapeutic but I think 4 bags is enough. 

Now it is time to get more wool and start on a bigger project. I'll keep you posted. 

You have me in stitches, Valentine!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Cliché Street Names in Heliopolis

This morning on our way to church we walked down our street to the main road. Then we walked down the main road until we made a turn on to Cleopatra Avenue. 

There is more than one way to spell "Cleopatra". 

Then we managed to walk past the House of Cocoa without yielding to tempation.  (We have stopped in there once and I had a very large, very rich, very wonderful cup of hot chocolate.)  

We continued on Cleopatra (or however you want to spell it) until we reached Ramses Street where we turned North. 

The church is just off of Ramses. 

Driving Around

Today was a momentous day:  Arthur got behind the wheel of the car and drove away.  So far we either walk or get chauffeured everywhere we go, so this was a big step.  It all went well.  We went to the Seminary to visit some friends, the supermarket and then home.  

The two biggest challenges are traffic and finding our way.  Today (being Thursday and the day before the weekend) there was lots of traffic so that means everyone has to go slow.  That was to our advantage because then we have lots of time to make lane changes and get our bearings. 

At one time we thought we were lost, but we kept going and it turned out that we were on the right track but we needed to go farther down the road than we expected.  If that makes any sense...

I'm not sure if/when I will get behind the wheel. I'm certainly not in a hurry to drive here. 

On one of the buildings that we frequently pass there is a sign that continuously updates the population of Egypt.  It is fascinating to see that as we sit in traffic, the population of Egypt is going up - one baby at a time. 

We think the building is the office of the Census  Bureau.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Visas and Dust

We, along with a co-worker, spent the better part of the past two days getting our visas renewed. 

On the way downtown the first day, we saw lots of evidence of Putin's visit to Cairo.  There were security people every 30 metres (I didn't take photos of them!) and lots of billboards and signs.

Once we got to the visa office, we passed through 2 security checks and began to fill out forms, submit pictures, pay for stamps and obediently walk from wicket to wicket to wicket. When that was done, they told us to come back the next day and then they would have the visas ready. 

On the evening of the first day and continuing to the second day, there was a dust storm.  It's been windy, dusty and colder than it was. 

It rained a bit overnight, producing a strange pattern of mud on the cars.

This morning we dropped off our passports around 9:30 and were told they would be ready at 1:00. After a trip to the American University in Cairo bookstore, we hung out at a tea shop for most of the morning. 

Because we were missing our Arabic class for the visa run, we practiced Arabic and asked questions as we enjoyed our "shay bi nana".

Downtown at midday, the sky was full of dust. 

For lunch we walked from the tea shop to a different restaurant about a block away. 
I found the doormat by the men's room quite entertaining:

After lunch we picked up our shiny new one year visas!

Thursday, February 05, 2015


We have been waiting to get up close to the Pyramids for quite a long time. Decades.

When we we were first in Egypt on our belated honeymoon in 1990, we only got to see them from a great distance - even though we wanted to touch them.  It's a long story that involves the clever scamming of naive Canadians with the end result being that we only could enjoy the pyramids from kilometres away. While on horseback.

So, finally, we got to touch them.

Anglo-Canadian tea

Our latest guest gave us some tea, but not just any tea.
There is a specialty tea shop in Sarajevo where you can get this tea. 
The man behind the counter asked to know something about the recipients of the tea before blending the perfect mix. He asked where we were from and when he found out it was Canada, asked if we were Anglophone, or Francophone. When he heard we spoke English, he decided that we needed mint and sage in the tea.  Sure enough, we absolutely LOVE the tea. This man knows his audience, so we're really curious what Francophone Canadians would have received instead.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Learning to Read Signals

When grass starts to grow under your tires, it signals that you have parked in the same spot for too long. 

I needed to get an official letter from the Canadian Embassy, which is closed for security reasons, so I called the non-emergency phone number and got a recorded message telling me it was closed. I sent them an email and got a reply within 15 minutes telling me that "for this week" they were operating from the Cairo Conrad hotel and would be open two mornings from 9:00-noon. I went today and had my letter endorsed within 15 minutes.  That included the 3 different metal detector security checks that I went through. (I regretted wearing all my bracelets and my jacket with metal buttons!)

The sign reminded me of my very own Conrad. 

When you park your car on the street in your home neighbourhood, there is a person who comes around to wash and dust your car. As a signal to you that your car has been cleaned and that they would like to be paid, they leave your windshield wipers sticking out. 

Time to pay up, Arthur!

I got a very cool app specifically for Cairo that tells us about all of the restaurants in our vicinity. We were astonished to learn that there were some restaurants within 0.2 km of our flat. Sure enough, when you walk slowly and look down the alleys, you see some things that you otherwise miss. 

Tonight we had light and tasty shawarma.

It was tasty -- I'm not sure about the light, though. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chocolates, Rice, Signs and Oranges

Today we went to a chocolate shop to select party favours for the Partner and Friends Reception that we will host early next month. It took four of us to sample the quality of the chocolates. They were very good. 

The displays were awesome!

We also saw their chocolate hazelnut spread for sale in a handy tube. (You saw it here first.)

Then we headed to the department store nearby to buy a rice cooker. We know we've lived in Asia too long when we struggle to make rice without a rice cooker. 

Arthur's dad asked about street signs. Most of them are in English and Arabic. This one is from our neighbourhood, Heliopolis. 

Karla, who lived in Egypt for a year a long time ago, asked about whether it is orange season. 

YES!  The oranges are great and there are a wide range of varieties to choose from. We are getting our vitamin C!