06 December 2018

I didn't mention that other day that I also went to a petrified forest.  You can Uber to it.  I never would have expected to be able to go to something like that here  My son was in charge of the camera and needing to take photos of rocks, but he did get a few usable photos.

04 December 2018

Bab al-Wazir

I'd been near this area several times, usually when I was walking from al-Azhar park to Sultan Hasan, but I kept going down Suq al-Silah instead of Bab al-Wazir, so a couple of weeks ago we focused on exploring here.  I like Suq al-Silah too and I think people should go there, but if you're only in Darb al-Ahmar once, see Bab al-Wazir instead.

The Aga Khan has done a lot of work here too and the good monuments books are pretty much all out of date, especially since some of the work was finished since 2011, but it's interesting to compare what they say about the buildings from 10 or 20 years ago.

Heading south from al-Tabanaa, you come first to an area with restored buildings on both sides of the street.  Bayt al-Razzaz and Um Sultan Shaban are on the right and the waqf of Ibrahim Agha Mustahfizen is on the left with a sabil and house, and there's a leftover minaret behind which is one of the oldest Bahri minarets (and was from a building called Zawiya al-Hunud, referring to India, since Bukharis lived here which may not seem straightforward if you know your geography but still).  Further down is the waqf of Umar Agha with a sabil, house, and tomb with Aqsunqur across the street.  This one was locked when we arrived but someone showed up after a bit with the key.  There are also more buildings from  Ibrahim Agha Mustahfizan here.  Then there's Kharybak's mosque on the left and the Palace of Alnaq al-Nasri. If you keep going, you'll get to Bab al-Wazir cemetery.

03 December 2018

I had all the time in the world to blog in Riyadh, but nothing to say.  Here, I have so much to say that I never get a chance to write it because I'm finding new things to talk about all the time. To sum up, we had a nice Thanksgiving and the stuff finally arrived, six months after we shipped it from Riyadh.  Since I blogged last about places I've been, I've visited al-Azhar park and Darb al-Ahmar, Coptic Cairo, Bab al-Wazir (lots of photos to post from there), Muayyad mosque, Bulaq, back to Bab Zuwayla and Harat Zuwayla, and Khan al-Khalili twice.  Most of those are repeats so I don't have too much to catch up on here.

I did finally discover that the Maimonides Synagogue is an official site on the Muizz Street ticket.  How anyone would ever know that is beyond me, but I sorted it out when I was showing it to a friend the other day and it was open again.  

And I got the Christmas stuff up.  I did it as soon as possible after unpacking everything and getting rid of the boxes and it's so nice to have it up again.  We've already gotten some new ornaments here in Egypt and a nativity.  Also, one can buy Christmas lights and trees and wrapping paper out on the street.  Pretty fun.

With the stuff taking so long to get here and Christmas coming up, I know that things won't get to normal till after school starts again in January.  But with zero emotional adjustment to living here, and since we're still well within the six-month time frame after arrival when I try to not worry too much about things moving slowly, it's okay.

I am very ready to spend more time on Arabic though.

20 November 2018

And just like that, it's been five days since I blogged and it feels like I did it yesterday.  But today I'm staying home, maybe all day long, even though it's a holiday.  I guess I'm not always someone who likes to stay home because I keep thinking of places I could go.  But it's a good day to stay home.

Yesterday my older son and I went to Bab al-Wazir.  We've been in the area before but had always gone down a different street, but I had a hunch Bab al-Wazir would be a more interesting street to go down, at least when I bring other friends along.  And that's definitely true. We'll definitely go this new way next time.

I need lots more hours in the day to get all the things done I want to do and I have to keep reminding myself that I'll be here for years and I don't have to do everything now.  If I could, I'd spend 20 hours a week studying Arabic, exploring Cairo's history, volunteering, cooking new food, figuring out where to get the food and ingredients I want, working on the Cairo blog, and reading which obviously isn't possible since that wouldn't leave any time for sleeping. 

I also went to Khan al-Khalili the other day and convinced the group I was with to get fatayer rather than diddling around inside of Naguib Mahfouz restaurant for hours.  They even tried the 'eshta and honey fatira I recommended and loved it.  Not everyone liked the rumy cheese has much, but a lot did.  Pretty sure that was the first time I've really enjoyed going shopping and out to eat with a large group of women.

Our stuff still hasn't come so Thanksgiving cooking is a little complicated since I don't have enough dishes to cook everything at the same time.  That's always a challenge, but not one that can be overcome this year.  I think we'll eat in shifts.  Last night we had turkey, potatoes and gravy, cornbread, and pie.  We had to have the pie because that pie plate needs to get cleared off so we can make the next one.  I'll make a couple more things today, and then a few more tomorrow, and more again on Thursday.  I'll probably need to make one more pie on Friday and by that point, we might have made everything.

15 November 2018

I'm just finishing one of the recent books about the Cairo Geniza called Sacred Trash.  I liked this one a lot, although I'm going to read Sacred Treasure next.  Mostly, I just want to read anything I can about the Geniza.  This book focused more on the researchers who have worked with the documents, especially in its early years, so I'm hoping the other book is less about those people and even more about the documents. 

There are lots of places you can see digital versions of these documents.  Here's one.

14 November 2018

A couple of days ago we walked north on Qasaba Street from Qalah Street up through Bab Zuwayla, then over to the church in Harat al-Rum, then up through back streets to the back side of al-Azhar, and over to the western side of the Salah al-Din wall.  Does this map work? You might have to click the box that says directions from 4 Haret...  I clearly need to work on my maps.

Anyway, this was the first time I'd been back to Bab Zuwayla.  It's even better than it used to be.  The church was small and quiet, and I still haven't been able to find much information about it.  It was also fun to loop around to the other side of the walls to a spot I'd seen from al-Azhar park.

Someone left me with not one but two dead batteries in the camera so I only got photos from the first half of the jaunt, but as always, we'll be back.  Also, I mostly just take photos of buildings.  Of course I see lots of people, but there's a different expectation of privacy here so you'll have to visit to see more than buildings.

13 November 2018

These photos are from Sultan Hasan, al-Rifa'i, Bayt al-Labib, and the Bimaristan of Muyyad.  The bimaristan was especially nice to see.  There's a tunnel connecting the gate to Darb al-Labbana (which may or may not have been acceptable for us to use- we weren't allowed to use it the second day we tried it) which isn't mentioned in any book I've read and now I need to figure out where it came from. 

Sultan Hasan and al-Rifai are regular spots for tourists, usually combined with the Citadel.  There's a fee of 80 pounds to go to both mosques/mausoleums. The house is definitely not as much of a tourist spot, although it should be, especially when it's so close to Sultan Hasan.  I actually preferred it to the Gayer-Anderson Museum, because the displays inside were more interesting and less jumbled.   And then the Bimaristan was a complete and lovely surprise.  I had no idea it would be so beautiful based on what I'd read, something that happens often here.  This will be a lot of photos again.