October 12, 2012 by admin · Comments Off
Along with your keys and your wallet, a digital camera has become a key element on the list of things you should be carrying at all times. Digital cameras have indeed become more of a necessity than a luxury. However, the unfortunate reality is that camera prices are extremely high in Egypt due to high customs tariffs. Don’t give up though; with the help of our guide and a bit of a search in Cairo, you may not have to wait for a friend to bring you a camera from abroad anymore.
First of all, it’s important to determine what kind of photography you will be doing and the features that most matter to you in order to narrow down the search into the category that will be most suitable. If you’re looking for an easy to use ‘point-and-shoot’ camera that takes care of all the settings automatically, then it is a compact digital camera you’re to look for. This type usually starts from as little as 500LE and can reach up to 3000LE, depending on the picture quality and freedom of control it it allows you.You can find a wide array of brands providing these pocket-sized cameras, with Canon and Nikon belonging to the upper range of prices if you want to experiment a little with manual settings.
Compact cameras are very easy to find in Cairo; big hypermarkets such as Carrefour and Spinney’s in Citystars often have special promotions or free-gift offers on their collections. The good thing about compact cameras, besides being small and light, is that their prices don’t usually differ that much here than Europe and the US. However, prices may take a slight jump when you shop at places like RadioShack or CompuMe; especially when it comes to the higher end models.
If it’s time to upgrade to a more professional level and explore outside the auto-mode limits, then you can’t go wrong with a DSLR (that’s a big black scary camera with changeable lenses). They allow you full control and more fun in forming and taking your photo, and of course the sharpness and quality are much better than that of a compact camera. A DSLR will definitely let you fully adjust all the settings to get the picture exactly how you want it to be through light exposure, shutter speed, etc.
Downtown Cairo is a perfect spot for DSLR camera shopping and maintenance. However, if the prices are much lower, which they usually are, it means that the camera doesn’t come with a warranty. Professional DSLR prices start in the 3500LE to 5000LE range and can go up to even higher eye-popping prices. A 15 Megapixel Canon Rebel costs around the 4500LE with its standard lens (18-55mm), while the HD video recording Nikon D3100 retails for 5500LE.
Along the narrow alleys and old apartment buildings of the Abdeen area lie some small shops that are almost bursting with both new and used photography gear. King Digital at 15 Roshdy St. is one that sells various types of camera lenses that suit your camera, filters, tripods to cases and picture frames. You may want to call first or ask on their always updated Facebook group to make sure what you’re looking for is available as it might be in stock but not available at hand.
Having another specialized photography shop in the same building makes it easier, though more tempting, to keep going back and forth trying to get the best bargain. El Houfy has so much to offer that their tripods are forced to stand outside the store for the lack of space. El Houfy also buys and sells used camera gear, and you can even make a request for a used camera you want to buy and they’ll keep an eye out for you and contact you when it’s in. Maintenance is also available.
In Mohandessien, El Shennawi is known as a reliable authorized retailer by Canon, Nikon and other brands, as well as for having impressive discounts. Additionally, you can find cameras for purchase on websites such as Souq.com or Nefsak, which fully guarantee your product. There are many choices to browse through and choose from, so take your time reading about the camera and comparing models first.
If you miss the old days when a picture was meant to be held in hand, Antar studio (180 Tahrir St., Bab El Louk) is popular for its high resolution printouts at cheap prices. A standard A4 coloured picture is printed for 6LE and the colour quality is unbeatable.
It’s strange that Cairo isn’t more clued up on the technical aspects of photography, especially when there’s so much to capture. It’s still seen as a bit of a specialist hobby, when it’s actually very accessible. Regardless of what type of camera you might go for, it’s always the one behind it who makes the picture what it is, so be creative and enjoy what is more of an investment than a purchase.
April 22, 2011 by admin · Comments Off
Dining in Cairo has taken on a new sense of urgency in the revolutionary age. In the spirit of abiding by the curfew, last orders at many of Cairo’s dining establishments until recently were not much later than 10:30. This was a bit of a shock to diners and restaurants alike. 10:30 BR (before the revolution, that is) would often find restaurants still awaiting their first guests. Restaurants would often be packed the rest of the evening, with several rounds of diners seated into the wee hours of the morning.
While the expansion of the curfew to a more locally-appropriate time (2 am) has improved things, it continues to impact Cairo’s restaurants. During a recent foray downtown, when the curfew was still set at midnight and restaurants had to make do with only a single seating, we arrived at Le Bistro, a relatively new arrival on the downtown dining scene, at 10:30 to find the place bursting with activity, and hardly able to accommodate our (admittedly large and rather boisterous) group.
Accommodate us they did though, and the experience was a delightful surprise. Downtown has long been known for its fine local establishments (Gad, Abu Tarek, Felfela) as well as its faded, fusty, gloriously Cairo-ancien options (Estoril, Café Riche, the Greek and Italian clubs). But it’s hardly been the center for gastronomical innovation, at least up until now.
Le Bistro is tucked away on a quiet corner of Hoda Sharawy Street just off of Falaky Square. It therefore perfectly suggests itself for an evening that includes a stop by the cafe and bar Horreya. An ornate ironwork sign outside establishes Le Bistro’s elegantly retro credentials. It consists of two sides, a pub and a restaurant. Both are stylishly designed; the pub plush and warm with deep reds and cozy tables; the restaurant more modern and sparse, adorned in elegant soft blue décor.
The service and menu are appealing. The menu replicates a French bistro experience: salads to start, fish, chicken or steak to follow, crepes, mousse, crèmes or profiteroles to finish. We brought with us an army of hungry diners and sampled widely off the menu. The salads are excellent; the hearty mains are not to be outdone. I particularly enjoyed my steak medallions served with sautéed vegetables, French fries and garlic butter. The cuts of meat are among the best available from local sources in town. I’ve never been much of a fan of those overly-elegant establishments that resort to imported beef. Le Bistro’s steaks confirm there’s no reason why local supplies can’t be excellent.
Le Bistro provides yet another attractive alternative for the burgeoning downtown dining scene. One of our guests that evening has made it his business to try to usher in the renaissance of downtown Cairo. It’s a compelling vision. Imagine wandering the gloriously designed and constructed streets of Ismail’s European downtown elegantly restored and upgraded: passing galleries, offices, residences, cafes and restaurants as you go, unimpeded by the crush of cars along pedestrianized alleys. While this might appear a far-off vision, with the ongoing arrival of elegant establishments like Le Bistro, it’s a vision that could easily be attained.
Details: 8 Hoda Sharawy St., Downtown. Open from 11 am daily. Tel: 2392 7694. Dinner for two: under LE300.
April 17, 2011 by admin · Comments Off
A quiet Cairean suburb, Maadi has been thought of as a hub for international expats as well as a tree-lined, villa-strewn haven for the rich and reclusive. Despite this lingering reputation, it has changed quite a bit over the 96 years of its existence. Planned out in 1905, it was home to the British and an army camp of New Zealanders during World War II, and now is home to a number of little neighborhoods such as Degla, Sakanat al-Maadi, Sarayat al-Maadi and New Maadi.
Maadi is accessible by the metro — line 1 — and its three stops are all located along Road 9 — a quaint street of stores and restaurants that has been the hub of old Maadi since the early 1900s. The street can be divided by metro stops, in fact, with the Hadayek el-Maadi station stopping at Road 9’s older and presently less affluent area.
Hadayek el-Maadi’s Road 9 is alongside a market area that bustles most days and nearly explodes with people on Fridays. Beyond the usual fresh fruits and vegetables, the Hadayek market is known for old furniture and home accessories. Just beyond the market area is a maze of small workshops where carpenters and upholsterers put together orders for clients or make samples to show on Road 9.
Al-Maadi is the next station on the metro line, direction Helwan, and is the center of life on Road 9. This is where Road 9 originated, and there are pictures from the 1950s and many stories about the street dating back to the 1920s when the street had few buildings and many gardens. Road 9’s first grocery store was Nile Cold Storage — the best place to buy British or Australian meat, fowl and other food items. The grocers that followed gathered around the metro station and hailed from Greece, Armenia and Cyprus, and the Road 9 community benefited from their specializations, histories and gossip.
“Road 9 was the home of Maadi’s first petrol station,” says Tarek, an older resident of Maadi. “It was the only one in Maadi and it was run by Socony Vaccum Mobil.” Other older residents have more stories of passed on ownership and of shops which used to exist on the street.
“Rano over there used to be a fashion boutique called ‘Angelle’,” explains Mohamed, an employee at Mishriky, a pharmacy on Road 9. “It was run by a man named Mr. Fouad.”
The road was also home to a historically famous dairy named Astra, the Slovak shoe store Bata, and Mr. Dimos, the street’s long time grocer. The Gomaa brothers who stayed on the street into the 1990s have now been replaced by Abu Zekry.
As one continues down Road 9, past the newest Road 9 store, Alef Bookstore and Kiwi cafe, you’ll find a set of older shops, a shoemaker, an electrician and the Mermaid Pizzaria, Road 9’s first eatery. Beyond the intersection after that, what used to be a quiet residential area has developed quickly in the past 20 years. Between Mermaid’s and the final metro stop, Sakanat al-Maadi, one will find everything from Mori Sushi to a CIB branch, silver stores to McDonald’s.
Just before you reach McDonald’s — which in the 1990s was the main Maadi location for supposed ‘satanics’, young men and women who wore black and listened to Metallica — you will find Lucille’s, one of Maadi’s most familiar restaurants. Serving some of the best burgers in Egypt, Lucille’s used to be a second branch of Mermaid Pizzareia.
But the Road 9 of 2011 extends even beyond the final metro stop. Now Diwan has a branch a block further on and Adel, the tailor whose shop once sat alone on a deserted section of Road 9, is surrounded by little grocers and streetside mechanics.
“Maadi has become crowded and chaotic,” says Fouad Amin, owner of a store on Road 9 that is now Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. “It’s nothing like it was in the old days.” Amin cites Road 9 as a testament to that.
“Things have become so crowded that the road now has to be ‘one-way’,” Galal Massoud complains. The Massoud family are the new owners of corner grocery store and one of three dry cleaners on Road 9.
Since the 25 January revolution the cafes along Road 9 such as Beano’s, Greco, Coffee Bean and Marriott Bakery have come out onto the sidewalk with tables and chairs, no longer held back by Maadi’s baladeya (street patrols). “The baladeya would threaten us and make us pay bribes to put our tables and chairs on the sidewalk,” explains Heba, a waitress at the Coffee Bean. “Now Road 9 is ours again.”
If you want a nice coffee out in the sunshine, a street-side glimpse of Maadi life or a one-stop location to get a manicure, fix a shoe, copy a key, buy a book and grab lunch – Road 9 is the perfect venue. Just try to stay on the sidewalk.
October 22, 2010 by admin · Comments Off
We perked up when we heard about an update to our favorite Marriott. The hotel, splayed on the central island of Zamalek, is a calm, warm slice of history in the stir-crazy beehive of Egypt. Apart from two looming towers and a massive courtyard, the hotel is centered around an ornate, historical palace, originally built in 1869 to house guests for the Suez Canal opening.
That palace is the focus of the big news this fall, as the Marriott has just announced a comprehensive renovation to the building as well as several other changes to the property. Big improvements will be made to facets of the palace, which includes over a dozen meeting rooms, the Omar Khayyam Casino, a dozen places to eat and drink and a battery of shops — all while keeping the historical angles of the property well-preserved.
In addition to the main palace improvements, a swath of rooms in the west wing will be eviscerated to make space for a larger, more comprehensive spa facility. Those updates are scheduled to finish some time in 2012.
All total, the full renovation should add a great deal of improvement to an already outstanding property on the banks of the Nile. We can’t wait to get back to check things out
One of the most rewarding things you can do as a food addict is eat at a new restaurant and find a real gem, particularly one that hasn’t reached household name status – rather like Marco polo going to off the beaten tracks to discover new countries and cultures, and when the rest of the world catches on, boasting to anyone who will listen, how you ‘discovered’ them first.We visited on a Sunday afternoon, when Planet Africa has that laid back feel, prior to students going out time and those who haven’t finished work yet, which all makes it perfectly suited to a relaxed meal. The menu has oodles of appeal: it doesn’t try to be too fancy or cleaver, but packs in favorites that make choosing so difficult. It’s altogether an inviting place, even if you’re not hungry. I had the grilled streak with salad and fries, always a popular choice; steak always cooked to order and big enough to feed two.
Of particular note are their stuffed potato wedges – golden fried potatoes stuffed with seafood and served with roasted marinara sauce. Since we’re in planet Africa, the tribal bread (crusty ciabbatta bread topped with tomatoes, olive oil, basil and garlic in balsamic vinegar) is an excellent way to start off our meal.
With items on the menu like “Savannah Veggie Salad’, “Jungle Sunshine Salad”, “Kwazulu Chicken” (flame grilled chicken breasts marinated with special herbs, topped with vegetables, roast beef and melted mozzarella and served with a loaded baked potato); dinner becomes a real treat at Planet Africa.
Sometimes it can take a while for the food to arrive but it’s never really a struggle as you can see both chefs and staff consistently working hard to please everyone.
Formerly known as Golden Bells a low-key bar in Maadi, was recently renovated to Cairo Boss Bar -a favorite spot for Maadi residents and expats.Cairo Boss is also famous for hosting live bands, themed DJs and dance classes.
17, Road 257
A typical English pub set in the middle of Cairo.
Different entertainment every night and an international kitchen with great pub Grub, English breakfast served every Friday and Saturday, fantastic value for money.
Jazz cafe with good piped, and sometimes live, music.
Open from 6 PM – 2 AM
32 Jeddah St.
376 16888 – 0101390735
February 1, 2009 by admin · Comments Off
Cairo Rugby has always been much more than just a rugby club: we’re a sports and social club that offers all sorts of sports and social events, and encourage members who enjoy a more-relaxed lifestyle (like bar perching) as much as those who enjoy taking part in sporting activities. As a result, we cater for sportspeople and leisure seekers of all shapes, sizes, ages, genders and persuasions.
You don’t have to be a rugby player to attend our twice-weekly training sessions (click on training). There are many who do not actually play full-contact rugby, but go along for a fitness session and to play ‘touch’. Sessions are attended by both men and ladies, of all sorts of ages and skill levels, and from several nationalities.
We also have popular twice-weekly football training for those who enjoy playing with round balls (click on football), and regular cricket matches for those who favour smaller balls (click on cricket).
Cairo Rugby is a great club, offering you excellent sporting activities, social events and clubhouse facilities! Please join us and enjoy yourself!
June 7, 2008 by admin · Comments Off
Just as pleasing as the food at Villa 55 is the atmosphere. Tucked away on Road 9 in Maadi, across from the popular American home-style eatery Lucille’s, this garden restaurant is a great place to take a break from the city Read more
June 7, 2008 by admin · Comments Off
The Association of Cairo Expatriates (ACE) , just celebrated it’s 10th anniversary and it just keeps going from strength to strength. Read more