The guided part of our stay in Cairo may have ended when the driver dropped us back at the hotel after lunch, but we were far from done with Cairo! We still had Egyptian pounds to spend and space in our luggage to fill.
I was feeling headachy, so I took some Excedrin and a nap while Amanda researched places to go shopping. She came up with a great list in a part of town we hadn’t visited yet (the island Zamalek, which was described as a leafy neighborhood with lots of artsy boutiques and galleries).
We went down to the hotel taxi stand and asked about hiring a car to take us into town for a shopping trip. The guys asked where we wanted to go and instantly disagreed with everything — they had very clear views on where we should be shopping! We humored them enough to convince them to call us a car and negotiate a price for us — and then we climbed in and told the driver where we wanted to go. When he realized we were on a shopping expedition, the driver, too, had lots of ideas of places to take us — all the kitschy touristy places we had seen before and had no interest in returning. Again we humored him enough to get him to stop pestering, saying that after he took us to the places we wanted to go, we would see if there was time for the places he had in mind.
Fortunately he was a nice guy and willing to play along — as a gesture of friendship he even handed back some Oreos!
We managed to visit a handful of nice little shops. Contrary to the hotel guys and taxi drivers’ belief, the Zamalek was lovely and the shops were exactly what we were looking for — a little more upscale than the bazaars and much less hassle in terms of haggling. We found some nice things and came home with some souvenirs to fill up those gaps in our luggage. I focused on textiles (Egyptian cotton!) and some alabaster jars, while Amanda picked up some jewelry and a lamp in addition to her textiles.