2018-06-25 01:50:07date was

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  • This is Why We Get Excited About Christmas Bazaars…


    Ah yes the season of Christmassing is upon us in Cairo, the season of carols, decorated fir trees, Ugg boots despite the 23-degree weather, and street peddlers selling Santa Claus masks. As tradition goes, every school/ladies’ club/restaurant/hole-in-the-wall seems to be having a Christmas bazaar starting in November. Why November, you ask? What’s the rush?

    And then when you show up at the bazaars just an hour after the doors open, do you wonder why there are queues around the block of determined looking people carrying empty bags? Is it for the schnitzel? The chocolate cookies? The Santa-shaped candles covered in glitter that will stick to your carpet and dog for the next year? No, dude; it’s for the booze.

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock or don’t like booze or bazaars, you’d know that the two major events every Christmas are the DEO Christmas Bazaar (25 November at 11 AM) and the EU Bazaar (3 December at 10 AM). Why? Because that’s where you can buy unlimited quantities of quality European wine and other liquors for a much lower price than you’d pay elsewhere, and without the Duty-Free sweat-inducing bottle count restrictions.

    14494813_10155141297535260_839594366818997501_nDEO bazaar in 2015 (Photo courtesy of DEO)

    Think we’re exaggerating? Just roll up to the DEO at 11 AM sharp and count how many people head straight for the wine section, and then whip out your stop watch and see how long it takes for the wine to sell out. Last year’s record was 30 minutes; and with a box of four bottles priced around 400 LE at the time, we can totally understand why. However, we’re sure this year prices will be a lot steeper because, you know, dollar+floating+kol sana wenta tayeb.

    12291062_10153073658007470_5803839740629122472_oThe EU bazaar in 2015 (Photo courtesy of Conrad Cairo Hotel)

    The big player in this game of stocking up on alcohol for the rest of the year has to be the EU Bazaar, which will be held at the Conrad Hotel and runs from 10 AM to 4 PM. The bazaar features stands from every single European embassy in Cairo, where they sell desserts, cheese, meats and – but of course – alcohol from their respective countries. Apparently, the profits made at the bazaar go towards local charities so you know your alcoholism is going to good use.

    dscf5483The Romanian table at the 2015 EU bazaar (Photo courtesy of Romanian Embassy)

    Thinking of going? You need to prepare mentally. With entrance tickets going on sale just half an hour before the event opens, you should expect crazy queues lining up in the hotel. As in crazy, all the way through the buffet to the conference room to the bathroom to the back of the stairway kind of queue. No joke; even if you show up at 8:30 AM, there’ll be someone there queuing before you touting two large suitcases. What are the suitcases for? The booze, that’s what.

    12307989_10153073643032470_8839206130012496680_oThe EU bazaar in 2015 (Photo courtesy of Conrad Cairo Hotel)

    After the 90-minute wait and once they finally open the doors to the bazaar, be prepared to elbow and jostle like you’re in a refined Rugby game. Wear thick shoes because lots of nice old ladies will run your feet over with their heavy roll-on bags, and get ready for a bruise or two when some pearl-adorned Madame pushes you into the Christmas tree so that she can grab the last bottle of French Bordeaux. It’s entertaining watching masses of people bicker and tug over the remnants of alcohol bottles; but it’s also – we think – indicative of the lengths we’ll go to just to avoid drinking Omar Khayam all year.

    Once you’ve stuffed your bag with bottles, chocolate and a random carrot cake, the bazaar also offers a buffet area where you can relax and lick your wounds while breakfasting on their Swiss sausages and Nutella pancakes. But given last year’s shenanigans, you may need a strong drink and ice for your feet.

    In a country where local wine costs 120 LE at the shop but 400 LE at the restaurant, and many of us no longer get Duty Free booze because we can’t afford to bloody travel anymore (hi dollars!), these bazaars are literally the only opportunity we’ll get to stock up on wines etc. for the rest of the very long year ahead. And given how absolutely shitfaced of a hurricane-proportion catastrophe 2016 has been so far, we can only guess we’ll be needing more booze to get us through 2017.