Ideas of what to buy in Egypt

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Apr 22nd, 2012, 02:43 AM
  #1
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Ideas of what to buy in Egypt

I need some ideas of something unusual that I should buy when I'm on a Nile cruise soon. I don't want to buy a typical souvenir but is there something that I should like out for that is typical of Egypt and not so easy to buy in Europe?
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Apr 22nd, 2012, 11:38 AM
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Is there any time you will be in Cairo OFF your Nile Cruise? If so go to the Khan el Khalili and look for the real things make here - camel bone nativity scenes or Christmas ornaments. Most all you will see on your Nile Cruise will be over priced and direct from China.
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Apr 22nd, 2012, 11:42 AM
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I don't mean you have to buy Christmas stuff to get the decent souvenirs. There are other good souvenirs made in Egypt. It's just that the average souviner (statue, etc) is pretty much right off the boat and WAY over priced.
You might want scarves, galabayias, perfume, silver, gold, alabaster or papyrus, but the best prices will be found at the Khan in Cairo. If you don't believe me, contact me to find out who offers the best prices on these items.
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Apr 22nd, 2012, 03:21 PM
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I am not an expert on Egypt and less of an expert on clothes. But I bought the most amazingly comfortable cotton shirts in Cairo. They were so amazing someone stole them in Istanbul (not while I was wearing them).

This isn't what you were thinking of, I am sure, but you made me tear up with your question. I had to post.
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Apr 23rd, 2012, 04:09 AM
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colduphere - are you referring to the tunic style shirts with either hand or machine embroidery on the front? They are nice. Comfortable, cool, and modest. A good combo for Egypt touring.
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Apr 23rd, 2012, 04:31 AM
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Casual_Cairo - yes that is right, though I am a bit foggy on the embroidery. I remember being told that they would keep me cool. I doubted it but they were amazing at doing so.
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Apr 23rd, 2012, 11:39 AM
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You will want to look for woolen wall hangings. Available in the medina and very decorative.
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Apr 23rd, 2012, 12:00 PM
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Never bought (or saw) woolen wall hangings, but there are some wonderful textiles - woven scarves, appliqued pillows (large and small), appliqued table runners, table cloths, etc.

My other personal fav Egypt items (reasonably transported home in a suitcase)
- glass Xmas ornaments (plus glasses, candle holders, etc)
- camel bone items (ornaments, decorative boxes)
- mother of pearl items (frames, boxes, trays)
- papyrus (but make sure it's real - so don't fall for cheap stuff)
- gold/silver (follow Casual_Cairo's advice to go to Gouzlan's in the Khan)
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Apr 23rd, 2012, 10:56 PM
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Just a suggestion-If you buy jewlrey have it checked by your jewler at home. I lost my gold bracelt with the key of life all around it-Found it 3 months later in the bottom of a granola box. Had to have the latched fixed & all the gold circles between each symbol replaced. It cost300$ to repair-but I love it. Got that in Aswan.
In Cairo-I think at Gouzlans I bought a butterscotch colored scarab in a necklase for a friend-the stone fell out & she never found it-that cost 200$. I bought some lovely papyrus that I had framed at home. Some beautiful mother of pearl backgammon sets as gifts.Hope this helps
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Apr 23rd, 2012, 10:56 PM
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Grcxx3 - I think she is talking about the "carpets" when she refers to "woolen wall hangings". You've seen them, I know you have. They have pictures woven into the carpet of scenes of camels, pyramids, sometimes they will have a village scene. Not unlike the work they do at Wissa Wassef, but clearly not the quality of Wissa Wassef. Wissa Wassef is the premier place to go see these types of products. It is a little like a Carpet School, but not sleezy and not using 9 yr olds to do the work. It's a classy business. They also do batiks and ceramics there. Nice stuff, and while it is NOT inexpensive, they do NOT pay commissions and the people making the goods get a fair wage. It is worth visiting if you are out near Sakkara.

A note about papyrus - there is "cheap stuff", but I am sure it is still papyrus. Don't fall for the lies that it is made from banana leaf. That is the biggest hoax around. This is NOT a country that would burn something up that could be sold to make fake papyrus from, and I can show you piles of burned up banana leaves and trees. If they say the leaves need to be young and supple to make the fake papyrus from, you can bet your bottom dollar we would not have any local bananas in this country because the money they would make from baby banana leaves would be MUCH more than what they get from the fruit.
When I was out actually trying to find some "banana leaf" papyrus, I couldn't - of course and SunnyLand Papyrus at the Khan was the only store I found to be totally honest on the subject - the manager looked at me, laughed a little, and said "papyrus is SO cheap and SO plentiful, there would be NO reason to use something else".
Now - yes, there is good papyrus and crap papyrus. It would be detirmined from the bit of the papyrus stalk they used to make it. Perhaps from their manufacturing methods as well, but mostly from the method of putting the picture on the papyrus. Some are original hand painted pictures. Some are not original, but hand painted. Some are not hand painted. Some look as if they ran them through a printing press or xerox machine.
A friend handed me his business card the other day. It was printed on papyrus. I asked him where he got them. He said he made them himself on his inkjet printer. Ergo - they can print on papyrus just about any old way they want, so do be wary of the art work.

OK - papyrus lesson over.
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Apr 24th, 2012, 01:31 AM
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CC - OH! That makes sense.

And thanks for the papyrus lesson. I knew they didn't used banana leaves, but I also knew there was really cheap stuff out there.
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Apr 24th, 2012, 09:11 AM
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I don't know how to tell the difference in papyruses -- but we bought a bunch (we were a group of 6) at one store in Cairo, had them framed at home, and love them. they're attractive, and a great reminder of our trip (they hang near the propanganda posters from our Vietnam trip).
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Apr 24th, 2012, 10:25 AM
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We bought (a) papyrus in Cairo. It was the most aggressive negotiation I have ever been in. The woman would not give up trying to sell more, more, more ....

In any event when we got home it was going to cost us five times the price of the papyrus to have it framed. That didn't make sense to us. So there the papyrus still sits ... in the dusty closet.

A sad tale.
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Apr 24th, 2012, 10:52 AM
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<<>>

Aaron Bros. $.01 sale.
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Apr 24th, 2012, 10:56 AM
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I assume that price is non-negotiable.
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Apr 25th, 2012, 08:49 AM
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We purchased some amazing scarves, also galabayas and papyrus. The price for papyrus (various sizes) were more than reasonable, but the framing once home... expensive. But worth every penny as they always get comments.
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May 7th, 2012, 06:14 PM
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Some papyrus paintings are the equivalent of black velvet paintings (do you have those in Europe? They epitomize "tacky"). Some are very good, hand drawn reproductions of classic Egyptian heiroglyphics and art. Our guide mentioned that during his college days studying Egyptology, he worked part time creating these for one shop. We bought the scene of judgement, weighing the heart of the deceased to determine if it was heavy with sin or light as an ostrich feather. There is an original version in the Cairo Museum, several thousand years old. Knowing the context made the item that more worthwhile.
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May 8th, 2012, 02:49 PM
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So amongst my 'treasures' I bought on trip last month:

Alabaster vases

A pretty metal lampshade with holes punched in a decorative pattern

A silver kartouch bracelet with my name is heirogliphics (ordered it from the store on the cruise ship and had it the next day)

Another kartouch bracelet for my son with leather band
Two Egyptian soccer shirts for my son. It makes it easy to buy for him (I buy one international and local team shirt in each country I travel and now my son has over twenty)

Spices, hibiscus tea leaves, dom(a powdered drink that is good for the stomach
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May 8th, 2012, 03:07 PM
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Oh yes, I almost forgot:

I found the most unique and adorable little 5" statue of an unusual looking pharoah. He looks Nubian with no headdress. I'm sure I should know who this character is? The statue is not mass produced and looks quite primitive. I just love it.
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May 27th, 2012, 07:56 PM
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I too bought some papyrus's-Yes they were expensive to frame,but they bring back of the lovely memories of our trip to Egypt. Just like paying for the trip-yes,its expensive but the memories are forever. I bought a huge original calendar. I get lots of comments on it. Eat a few less meals out & have your treasures framed so you can enjoy them.
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