Continuing the saga of delving deep into the seamy side of Downtown Cairo, last night I went for a beer with my new friends John, a Londoner, and his mate Mohammad. They’ve kindly let me tag along with them as John’s apartment hunting as well. I have to say – there were some highs, there were some very, very low lows. Some places you’d be frightened to take your shoes off in, and one that had me worried the floor was going to drop out of the ancient lift.

So after cruising about six apartments, we lashed out and went to a bar. Cap D’Or is apparently (according to my guide book) used to foreigners, and you know I’m fairly intrepid in this regard. But there is no way I’d have set foot in here alone. It was like when the stranger throws open the saloon doors and the music stops and everyone shuts up.

I’ve posted up a pic of the bar snacks – sliced tomatoes with a herb salt in an old soft drink bottle with holes in the lid, foul (cooked butter beans, taste fantastic, look um, foul hahaha), and termis, more unidentified pulses. All exceptionally healthy stuff. We got the bar boy to grab some cheese from the shop across the road as well, and I fed snippets to the tiny kitten beneath my chair.

The beer we drink round here is Stella, (“Authentic Egyptian Lager Beer since 1897”) at 4.5%. Cap D’or is also one of the cheapest bars around, selling it for LE7, about A$1.50. The bar snacks are free.

Just as we left, I said to John, I wish I had the guts to take a pic, but I’m too embarassed. He said, don’t be soft. So I handed him the camera. He took a bad pic. I took the camera back, asked the barman if he minded? He preened and ran a smoothing hand over his bald head. I took the pic. The entire bar watched, then someone waved a hand. I asked the bar, ‘Mumkin?” (Do you mind?) The bar said, “La!” (No!) All assumed the pose. I took a snap. “Gameel! Shukran.” (Beautiful! Thank you). The bar all waved goodbye.

We skipped out to try another bar opposite the Swiss Embassy, more local, less used to chicks, as was obvious after I went to the loo and, as I was coming out, surprised a bloke just about to use the pissoir outside the loo. He was slightly disgusted, I think, as he had to zip himself back up and step out of the room back into the to let me pass. Everything I wore last night now stinks, absolutely stinks, of cigarettes.

Mohammad also pushed open the door on a bar full of prostitutes (VERY BIG and SCARY prostitutes) where the beer is three times the price and the girls expect seriously big tips. It was not a place for me to be drinking in.

PS Can I just mention that this is the seedy side of town? Will hit the glam side as well to prove Cairo’s not all so rugged.

PPS Can I also ask whether am I the last woman alive to know that female circumcision was de riguer in Egypt, for ALL Egyptian women, until just five years ago??? The things you learn in bars…