We asked many Cairenes (inhabitants of Cairo) if their city ever falls asleep. They always proudly answer that Cairo never sleeps. However, it seems to us, there is one time during the week, when the city is quiet – Friday morning.
At this time, hardly any cars are on the streets, it’s difficult to get a taxi and people are heading home after long night before the weekend. It is also relatively quiet because Friday is a day off for most people.
On such a morning it is nice to go for a walk and enjoy the serenity. Foreigners usually go to the River Nile, sit in one of the empty restaurants and admire the view of the river. However, this idyllic time only lasts until 11:00am when first shopkeepers rush towards their shops, taxi drivers start honking their horns and the first coaches with tourists can be spotted in the streets.
Just before 1:00pm, the city is filled with the calls of muezzins, most shops are closed for several minutes and men walk towards the mosques. Some of them stay there for an hour while others spend only several minutes and then come back to their work. In general after 2:00pm, the entire city is vibrant and moves forward.
In the night time when the highest temperatures drop, people are in the streets, restaurants, on the lawns and… the bridges are crowded. It may sound strange, but bridges are favourite places for less wealthy Cairenes to spend their free time. They do so because the air is apparently cooler and fresher there. Rivers always bring some colder air, however, there are lot of cars crossing the bridges, which bring fumes and noise, not necessarily fresh air.
You may wonder what people do on the bridges besides enjoying the cold; they sit and talk, drink tea or coffee and enjoy each others company. They sit on plastic chairs, which are set up along the entire length of bridges by small businessmen who offer such services. Once again, the long conversations last until dawn, cars are in the streets, crowds are everywhere and the city stays up till the morning when everything starts all over again.