27 May 2010


Foreign types with the hookah pipes say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an Egyptian
(Lyrics: Walk Like an Egyptian, The Bangles, 1986)

Shisha is a way of life in Cairo.  Just walking down Quasr el Eini Street one will see men sitting outside their shops at the end of a long day smoking from a hookah.  It is seen as less harmful than traditional cigarettes and cigars by the west and smoking a variety of fruity flavor tobaccos from a hookah pipe make shisha more of a social experience rather than an addiction.

(Photo credit: http://www.blooiphoto.com/trip.html)

Location: Downtown near Garden City- Quasr el Eini Street.  Garden City is considered the posh place for expats to live in Cairo and is where the embassies of the countries stationed here during the colonial area are found. 
Price: 4.50 Egyptian pounds (LE) for shisha including the lay (less than 1 USD), 7 LE for a fruit drink
Atmosphere: Arabesque is an open air room with two rows of tables along each wall surrounded by comfortable chairs.  It is a very laidback cafe full of both locals and expats relaxing with a pipe and friends.

We ordered apple shisha and teas all around but there was a vast array of other flavors to choose from if you can read or understand Arabic. Props go to Arabesque for also having tasty fruit drinks that are beautifully presented as well; each drink comes with decorative shaped fruits hanging off the side of the glass.  I can vouch for the excellence of the strawberry and banana and strawberry and guava shakes.  Shakes here are fruit and milk mixed together rather than what you might expect with ice cream.

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