Cairo is...amazing, enormous, bustling, beautiful. Cairo is an enormous city, housing some 17 million people -- with the infrastructure to support only about 4 million people.
Cairo was once known as the city of a thousand minarets, and looking over the city from the citadel, it is obvious that there are at least that many still. Hundreds of mosques line the twisting, medieval streets, packed in with the newer apartments and even high-rises. ON one street you are likely to see a small brick house, a stone mosque, a late 17th century warehouse, a victorian home, a modern shopfront, and a huge hotel -- it's overwhemling sometimes.
The smog is terrible -- even on a relatively clear day, the city is shrouded in a brownish haze. Add that to the morning mist that blankets the Nile Valley and there were times we could barely see the street from our hotel room on the upper floors.
Cairo traffic is legendary -- or infamous. I had originally though that we'd either get a car and drive ourselves, or rely on taxis and busses in the city. Mark laughed at the suggestion, and after a few minutes in the streets of Cairo, I understood why. Drivers pay little attention to road signs or signals, even a traffic cop in the middle of an intersection attempting to direct traffic is often igrnoed; camels and donkey carts drive along with cars, five or six cars will drive abreast down a two lane road. I am convinced that if you have not grown up understanding the language of honks and yells to maneuver in the streets, it would be dangerous to try it!!