Well, the main highlights of Egypt were the Pyramids and the trip down to Luxor (see previous blogs). However, Cairo itself is also an amazing place. As in so many developing countries, it's a mixture of beauty and ugliness. It's location on the Nile is truly stunning, and gives it a feel of real grandeur. Just the sheer width of the river with its islands, bridges, cruisers and adjacent skyscrapers! Also the architecture of most of the city is from the early 20th century, which creates an atmosphere of faded glory, most of the buildings having now become pretty shabby unfortunately. In it's day it must have looked really opulent, though.
There were many features of the city I enjoyed, the main ones being the soukhs and bazaars, the river, the food, the museums, the hubub of the street life, the cafes and, of course, the Egyptians themselves. They were all so different fr0m anything in Asia, where I've spent the last nine years. It was a really refreshing experience!
One thing I really noticed, though, was the absence of women in the forefront, in strong contrast to a country like Thailand, where women seem to almost run the place. I must admit I don't like the way women are repressed in Islamic culture, though Egypt is nowhere near as bad as places like Saudi , where they have to wear the full burkha.
The Egyptians were friendly, but in a very macho kind of way. You always felt under pressure to shape up .... or else! The downside of being with Egyptians was the dreaded "baksheesh".. Just couldn't get away from it. It seems to pervade the whole culture. It's more than just an optional tip. You're really expected to pay it, and as a foreigner I'm sure I payed well over the odds!