According to the travel blogs/threads I’ve read, most shops at Khan El Khalili are closed on Sundays. I scoured the internet last night to double check this information and what I got was mixed information. I was debating if, perhaps, I should visit tomorrow or stick with the plan today. The concierge at the hotel kindly suggested going on a different day, but I insisted that this is the only day I have and I assured her that I’m only interested in looking, seeing the place, and not buying.
After a simple breakfast of veggie omelet, Egyptian pie, and cereal with yogurt plus this Turkish coffee, I was ready to go. This is my first time trying Turkish coffee and if you’re not familiar with it, it is dark brown like espresso, strong, but not bitter. When you order, you can let the person know how you like your coffee: sweet, add a little more water, etc. You’re also supposed to drink just the liquid-y part and not stir the bottom; I stirred mine after most of the coffee was gone and took a sip. Oops! It was strangely bitter but not unpleasant. Later, a couple shared with me that Turkish coffee is good for you, it’s better than US espresso, and you don’t stir the bottom. Lesson learned. There is supposed to be some spice, particularly cardamom, but I couldn’t taste it.
The taxi ride was a much pleasant experience today. I asked the person helping the guests just outside the hotel to secure a taxi but to first negotiate the price. He originally offered his own taxi for 100 LE, but I thought that was too much for where I’m going and declined it. I ended up paying 50 LE, which was right around my budget. I think I’m finally getting this taxi thing down.
Beginning at Al Moez Street, you will find amazing buildings and people selling various wares, clothes, some food, snacks, and drinks. It was a quiet and definitely peaceful trek up and down the street, which was a blessing compared to maybe going at night when the place would be busier. I did note that some stores are closed but there were plenty still to look at or buy from.
I didn’t find a sign to Khan El Khalili Bazaar, so this took some asking on my part. While looking for the Bazaar, I saw this beautiful mosque which is also a school and a tomb. There is an entrance fee to get in but I didn’t bother.
In the corner, I saw this building with beautifully painted blue doors. I have a thing with doors and windows and I think they really capture my eyes in a different way.
A few blocks behind this, I saw a man making Egyptian coffee. It was fascinating watching him go through the motions. This is the fun part and what I love about being with the people when I travel. I get to stop, smell, and witness day to day life. Maybe this is another reason, besides traveling on a budget, why I have not liked guided tours.
Finally, the Khan El Khalili Bazaar. Just like the wares, clothes, and souvenirs on Al Moez Street, this place was much busier with tourists and sellers. The sellers will greet and try to engage you, but they are not pushy. I politely declined by saying “no, thank you” or “shukraan” with a shake of my head. I read somewhere that this area along with Al Moez is pretty conservative, so dress accordingly as there are mosques around the area.
Since this place is a maze, I couldn’t tell you how I arrived at this junction but here, near a plaza, you will find restaurants serving local food.
In this same space, there is another beautiful mosque. This one was much busier than the other mosque on Al Moez Street.
I think I was at the end of this trip, so I decided to have a treat that was highly suggested in travel blogs. A trip to El Fishawi to have coffee is a must. It is a renowned coffee shop in the Khan El Khalili area. This coffee was slightly different than the Turkish coffee I had in the morning and very different than a cafe Americano. You can taste the spice or spices in this drink. While sitting enjoying your coffee or tea, you might get persistent offers from sellers to buy things. Again, politely decline and enjoy people watching.
Today yielded a good and positive experience with taxis. The concierge at the hotel inferred that most taxis, even the black/white ones, will not turn on the meter. In her words (and she’s a local), taxi drivers (or most of them) will try to cheat you not in a malicious way but it’s because they need the money and if they could get a little bit more, why not? While I’m understanding this is the way of life here for some, I don’t appreciate it. But, I have got to be okay with it or find an alternative that will give me peace.
I also thought Sunday was a perfect day to visit Al Moez and Khan El Khalili. I arrived here around 10:30ish and it was a leisurely walk all the way around. Plus, I had so much space between people that I didn’t have to worry about pick pocketers, which I heard is quite rampant in these areas.
Tomorrow, a private tour to Dashur, Memphis, Saqqara to see some pyramids.