All but one of our group of five were first time visitors to Egypt. We had heard so much about the Khan Al Khalili that it was on the " must do" list of all except the visitor with experience. But she knew that the others would visit the place no matter what, so she insisted that we finish with it the day we arrive in Cairo.
After landing in Cairo late morning and resting a while at our hotel, we set off for the market. That is when we had our first exposure to Cairo taxi driving; the transfer earlier from the airport to the hotel was a sedate, quiet affair by comparison. Just about when we had our fill of honking and shouting, we found ourselves on the pavement opposite the market. We walked through an underground tunnel to the Kan Al Khalili.
The Khan Al Khalili has the look of a Turkish bazaar but does not have the feel of one despite its numerous shops filled with goods. Many of the items on display appeared to be cheap and tacky copies of Egyptian artifacts and traditional items, mostly made in China. May be because of the preceding lean years in tourism, the shop keepers were overly solicitous, if not downright aggressive sometimes. We were not attracted enough to buy anything. We had heard that kebab in Khan Al Khalili is very good, but the general environment did not give us confidence to try any outside food on our first day in Egypt.
We were tired and a little annoyed with everything going on around us. Suddenly the Naguib Mahfouz Cafe, managed now by a well known international chain,loomed in front of us. We rushed in and enjoyed over an hour of serenity and excellent service with snacks, drinks and shisha.
On our way back from Egypt we spent a day and a half in Cairo. Though we had time, we did not go back to Khan Al Khalili
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