Saturday, October 21, 2006

House Hunting in Cairo

Since I was "acclimatising" myself (nicer way of saying I was lazing around) for the last 2 days & Friday is a day when nothing works, today was the first chance I got to look at apartments. The lady from Coldwell Banker was very helpful. She lined up 3 houses for me to look at. Today being a Saturday (2nd day of the weekend here) the traffic on the road was much lower than usual, so we finished with all 3 in under an hour.

The second & third did not have a bathroom attached to the master bedroom so they were automatically out. The third was cosy & had a brilliant view from the Sitting room (called Reception here) balcony. It overloked a huge club called the shooting club & you could see 1 of the pyramids in the distance. The first was nice but ostentatious. To put it in perspective : most higher income localites take their interior design inspiration from the French chateaus & try to compress that into a 2 bedroom apartment. Or maybe I'm making a generalisation too soon.

Also most houses are in very crowded localities, there is no concept of a boundary wall as far as I could see. No car parks : people park on the street & leave the vehicles in neutral so you can push it out of your way when you need to reverse out. Because of the close quarters, you end up having to look at the wall of another building barely 5 metres away. from your large French windows. Reminds me of the older Delhi neighbourhoods. Too cramped & claustrophobic for me.

Before coming here, some friends on the Expat Focus Forum mentioned that Maadi was a nice place to live. When I mentioned this to the lady from Coldwell Banker she decided to take me for a drive to that area. The houses here were better spaced out. More greenery. Little garden area around the houses. Individaul villas coupled with high rises but newer constructions that seemed more artistically designed.

Hopefully I can see better houses once id is over. With 4 days of holidays for id in the coming week, most people have added a few days on either side & taken a 10 day break. Even getting someone on a cell phone is close to impossible. So doesn't look likely that we will be moving into our own place any time soon.

Ended the Day with a brilliant Fatour Buffet at the hotel. Got to taste a lot of the local delicacies. Read My review on the food here

Tip for the Day : Booking a hotel room thru a Travel Agent is cheaper than booking it yourself. Spoke to the reception of Cairo Sheraton to extend our stay & they advised me to extend it thru our agent. Rate if we booked directly would be 168USD per day & 120USD per day if done through our agent.

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