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Cairo/Zamalek

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Africa : North Africa : Egypt : Lower Egypt : Cairo : Zamalek
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Zamalek is a relatively affluent and pseudo-European residential district of the Egyptian capital Cairo that occupies the northern half of the island of Gezira, the large Nile river island located in the heart of the Cairo metropolis (the name is a redundancy, as 'gezira' means 'island' in Arabic). (The district of Gezira occupies the southern half the island). While not noted for obvious tourist attractions, Zamalek is a good place to stay and a good place to eat while in Cairo, as the residential nature of the area and presence of many expatriate residents allow tourists to navigate relatively easily.

Understand

Zamalek is unevenly bisected by the major artery formed by Sharia 26th of July that crosses SE to NW over two bridges, linking Bulaq (north of Downtown Cairo) with Mohandiseen in Giza via Zamalek.

Get in

Zamalek is best reached by taxi. The Opera Station of the Cairo Metro (line 2) is located on the southern tip of Gezira, adjacent to the Opera House and Gezira Sheraton, but is still a significant walk from the main areas of Zamalek.

Get around

Zamalek is small enough to negotiate on foot. The area is clearly laid out in Cairo: The Practical Guide Maps, a small atlas published by the American University of Cairo Press, and available locally at the AUC Bookshop in Zamalek, or at Diwan bookstore.

See

  • the Akhenaten Centre of the Arts, eastern end of Sharia 26th of July, adjoining the bridge crossing over to Bulaq
  • Gezira Centre of Arts, 1 al-Sheikh Marsafy, open Sa - Th 9 am - 1 pm, free entry - displays an interesting collection of Islamic ceramics and galleries for temporary art exhibitions

Do

Eat

Abou al-Sid, around the corner from Diwan. Owned by the conglomerate also responsible for L'Aubergine, Abou al-Sid features high end Egyptian cuisine.

Beano's, south to the 26th of July street near the Marriot hotel and the Gezira Arts Center. It has a west-european style and serves food all day during Ramadan.

Deal's, al-Sayyid al-Bakri St near Abou al-Sid. Purportedly the best burgers in Cairo. Open during Ramadan.

L'Aubergine, 5 El-Sayed Al-Bakry St, (02) 738-0080 (next to the post office at the corner of Sayed al-Bakri and Sharia Brazil).

Maisson Thomas, near Cilantro and Diwan on the north side of 26 July St. Legendary establishment (Om Kolsoum once ate here) serving pastries, light food, and pizza. Owned by Coptic Christians, this is one of the very few places in Egypt that serves 'real' ham and bacon.


Drink

Cafés

Cilantro, 157, 26th July St, (02) 736-1115, and another branch in the Om Kolsoum Hotel on Abu el-Feda just north of the 26th July St Bridge crossing to Agouza. Part of a local coffeestore chain (think Starbucks) with pastries, light sandwiches, sodas, and free wi-fi.

  • Simonds, 112 Sharia 26th of July, tel 02 735 9436, open daily 9 am-midnight - a small, long-established and highly popular café frequented by expats, journos and students. Rather intimate, space is at a premium with just a few stools available or stand at the bar. Serves the best cappuccino in Egypt, and probably the best in north Africa. A great selection of sweets, pastries and juices is also on offer.

Organics

Sekem, Ahmad Sabri St, between Shagaret El-Dorr and Brazil St, next to Mobacco Cottons. Cairo's only organic food/health product store.

Buy

Bookstores

American University in Cairo Bookstore, 16, Mohammad Thakeb, (02) 739-7045. Smaller version of the main campus bookstore downtown. Featuring AUC Press publications and more. Diwan, 159, 26th July St, (02) 736-2578. Possibly Cairo's best English-language bookstore, also carries Egyptian and western music, videos and DVDs. A small cafe serves coffee and pastries. Zamalek Bookstore, 19, Shagaret El-Dorr St, (02) 736-9197. Small bookstore, with a large selection of English children's books and stationary products.

Clothing

Mobacco Cottons Ahmad Sabri St, between Shagaret El-Dorr and Brazil St. Sells high-quality Egyptian cotton clothing, most of which is made in Egypt and exported. Prices are higher than other stores in Egypt, but the quality is comparable to stores in the US and Europe.


Sleep

Moderate

Golden Tulip Flamenco Hotel [1], 2, El Gezira El Wosta St, Zamalek, (02) 735-0815, fax (02) 735-0819, sales@flamencohotels.com. This hotel is more notable for its location than its service - rooms can be small, but comfortable. The service is good, and most room rates include breakfast - ask for a Nile view when booking.

Hotel Longchamps [2], 21 Ismail Mohamed Street, Zamalek, tel +20 2 735 2311/12, fax +20 2 735 9644, mailto:hotel.longchamps@web.de, rooms from €42 / $36 single, €56 / $46 double - a spotless and well-appointed 3-star hotel situated on a beautiful tree-lined street in comfortable Zamalek, run by a Mrs Hebba Bakri. Garden terrace upstairs. Room rates include a buffet breakfast. Laundry service available. Optional airport pickup and delivery LE 50 flat fee.


Splurge

Cairo Marriott [3], Sharia Saray El Gezira, tel 02-735 8888, fax 02-735 6667 - housed in a former royal palace.

Get out

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

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