|At noon we met our Egyptian tour leader, Ahmed, and five of the seven other members of our tour group in the lobby of the Victoria Hotel - Yuka from Tokyo; Hanna from Melbourne; Lucy and Chantel from Sydney, Australia (although Chantel lives and works in London, England) and Andy from Windsor, England. After our indoctrination, we headed out into the streets of Cairo. We all got into taxis and headed to the Khan al Khalilli area where we had lunch and then took a walk thru Islamic Cairo...thru the market bazaar past Sabil Muhammed Ali. This building was commissioned by Muhammed Ali(not the boxer) during his rule in Egypt from 1805 to 1849. It was designed to hold water brought to it via aqueducts to provide the people of Cairo with a place to get a drink. Even today, there are jars and flasks of water placed in the streets at various locations so that the people of Cairo can quench their thirst under the hot desert sun. Near the Sabil was the 12th century Matouli Gate and Mosque. We then made our way to the Al Azar Mosque....Barb had to pull a Burka over her clothes (flannel no less) to cover herself from head to ankle. We spent an hour and a bit in the Mosque where we received an explanation about Muslims and the Islamic religion....the faithful are called to prayer five times a day by the Meduhin.....the chant rings out through the air....before dawn (between 4 and 5 a.m.) and just before sunset and three other times in between.....it was all quite interesting. (Barb in the meantime was having her own private sauna in her Burka). After our visit at the Mosque we went to another market area (there are lots of them) where the group did some shopping (some people bought things while others didn't) and then we all stopped for a cold drink at a the Club Camif Café and a couple of the girls tried the shisha (water pipe) with apple flavored tobacco. After our drinks we went back thru the streets of Cairo to a 14th century hotel.....in ancient times travelers would stop and put their animals up for the night on the main floor and the people would stay on the second and upper floors. Today this building houses a stage and is used to present Sufi Dancers to tourists and others.......the Sufi Dancers are a group that play various musical instruments while others spin around and around with coloured aprons on....one of the dancers spun non-stop for over half an hour....we were amazed that he didn't get dizzy and fall over....we were all almost dizzy just watching him. After the show we made our way back to the taxi area and got taxis back to the hotel...... driving in this city takes special nerves....while there may be three or four lanes for traffic, usually there are five or six (or more) vehicles abreast..... with everyone trying to get across the lanes to the other side.......horns keep honking....... and add to the chaos people crossing the streets wherever and whenever they want and then throw in a few horse drawn carriages and carts being pulled by donkeys and you have....rush hour in Cairo, 24 hours a day! The city is very busy and hectic with locals and tourists alike milling about the streets, shopping and sightseeing.....most of the shops stay open until 2:00 a.m. (some even later) since it is too hot to shop during the day and it seems more people come out at night when it is cooler....