‘I was twenty-two years old…drunk on the glamour of Cairo as well as on champagne cocktails…’
Iris and Ruby, winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year Award, tells the story of Iris as a young woman in Cairo during World War II, and her granddaughter Ruby’s visit to Cairo many years later. Rosie Thomas brings Cairo to life in this beautiful and poignant story of love, family and connections.
Although the Cairo of WWII is gone, many of the places Iris remembers still exist and you can follow her journey through this ancient and incredible city. Ruby finds herself in modern Cairo, and you too can feel the same mix of awe and fascination in this city of contrasts and contradictions.
Hotel accommodation can be arranged, please contact us to discuss your needs.
‘Ruby wandered between the cases, pausing beside each king and queen with what seemed to Lesley to be close to tenderness.’
We will pick you up from your chosen location in Greater Cairo, or Cairo International Airport.
We will travel in luxury air-conditioned vehicle to Midan Tahrir (Tahrir Square) and the Egyptian Museum, where Ruby surprises her mother with her knowledge of the mummies and the Pharaoh Akhenaten. You will have plenty of time to appreciate why Ruby was so taken with this wonderful museum.
In the afternoon, after we had eaten some recuperative pastries and drunk coffee in the shady garden at Groppi’s…
After the museum, we will either stroll or drive through Downtown Cairo for lunch at the iconic Groppi’s café, visited by Iris and Xan in WWII and then Iris, Ruby, Ash and Nafouz many years later.
‘Garden City was set beside the Nile, an enclave of curving streets with tall cocoa-brown and dirty cream houses apartment blocks deep in gardens of thick, dusty greenery’
After lunch, we will walk or drive to Qasr Al Aini Street, where Iris worked at British Army GHQ, followed by a stroll along the Nile Corniche, passing the British Embassy where Sandy Allardyce worked. Then we will walk round Garden City, where Iris, Faria and Sarah lived in the apartment owned by Faria’s parents.
‘I remember a Cairo sunset, a grey-green sky fading into apricot barred with indigo and gold. My heart was banging like a drum.’
In one of the most romantic scenes in the novel, Iris and Xan drink champagne and watch the sun set over the Pyramids. This evening we will travel to the Pyramids in air-conditioned vehicles to watch the sunset and think about love and romance.
After sunset, we will return you to your accommodation.
It came to her that she liked Cairo.
We have a busy day ahead as we will visit many places mentioned in the novel, starting with pick up from your chosen location.
She has a lovely house in the old city, right beside the Al Azhar mosque.
Iris’s house is based on the stunning Gayer Anderson Museum which is where our tour begins today. A beautiful, historical house in Old Cairo, the Gayer Anderson has many features mentioned in the book, for example the carved wooden screens to protect women from male gazes. You will recognise the low divans and tables described by Iris when she first visits the house.
Above them, monopolising the skyline, were the sand-coloured walls and turrets of the old citadel
Our first stop will be the Mohamed Ali Mosque and the Old Citadel, visited by Ash and Ruby. Like Ruby, you will be able to see all of Cairo spread out before you, and on a good day you can see the Pyramids. If you turn round you can see the Muqqatam hills.
We will have lunch in Al Azhar Park which has a stunning view of the Mohamed Ali Mosque and Citadel.
‘Mamluk Tombs,’ Ash said. He traced the line of a stone wreath.
After lunch, we will visit the Mamluk tombs, established in 1290, and the City of the Dead where Ash and his family live. This area has been developed over many centuries and contains both the graves of some of Cairo’s huge population as well as the elaborate mausoleums of many of its historical rulers.
There were canvas awnings looped overhead, and in their welcome shade the brightness of the crammed-together shops and stalls was dazzling.
Our final stop in the footsteps of Iris and Ruby is the ancient Egyptian bazaar, Khan Al Khalili. This is where Ash and Ruby meet, and she experiences the winding streets and colourful stalls.
We will deliver you back to your preferred location in Greater Cairo or take advantage of one of our numerous other tours. Your host will be happy to discuss this further with you.