Page 151. " They crossed the Bulaq Bridge and the traffic got worse. "

Boulaq is a district in Cairo, and makes up part of old Cairo.

An interesting source for reading about Old Cairo before both World Wars are the letters of Lady Duff-Gordon (1863-1935) who lived in Egypt for five years.

Blogger Dianabuja has picked out an Egyptian recipe for fattah from Lady Duff-Gordon's letters, which was made for her in the Boulaq district. (It sounds pretty tasty!)

Page 151. " He cut south along the Nile towards the Semiramis Hotel "

The old Semiramis hotel sits on the Nile, and is clear on this webpage, which links to a beautiful post-World War II map of Cairo.

Page 153. " he meets her in Groppi Park - beside the heavily watered plum gardens "

Groppi Park may either refer to the Groppi tea gardens, or the 'french pleasure gardens' of Cairo, like Ezbekiya Garden, which you can read more about here.

“During WWII, Groppi’s on Adly Pasha Street (a second branch of Groppi’s) was frequented by members of Britain’s Eighth Army and was a favourite of General Montgomery, who came to enjoy jazz evenings in the garden,” says Adel Toppozada, former Deputy Minister of Information and grandson of former Egyptian Prime Minister Hussein Pasha Rushdy. (Source).

Images of Old Cairo

Page 154. " they are wakened by the three minarets of the city beginning their prayers before dawn "

Muslim praying with prayer beads
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMuslim praying with prayer beads - Credit: mrehan

Muslims are required to pray five times a day. This practice is called Shalat and is the second pillar of wisdom.

Azan is the first call to prayer, before dawn. This call is issued from the minarets in a city, and rings out.



Page 155. " There is a plant he knows of near El Taj, whose heart, if one cuts it out, is replaced with a fluid containing herbal goodness. "

Page 157. " the tall row of traveller's palms "

Page 161. " beyond it the Khan el Khalili bazaar "

Khan el Khalili
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeKhan el Khalili - Credit: Joelsuganth

Built in 1382, the Khan el Khalili bazaar, now commonly known as Khan, is a major souk in the Islamic area of Cairo. It is popular with both locals and tourists.

If you fancy a bit of bazaar shopping, but can't make it to Cairo, you can take a virtual trip to the souk!

Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz is a novel set in an alley in the Khan el Khalili. The novel was published in English in 1966, and Mahfouz later won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Read a review of the book.

Page 162. " Madox, what is the name of that hollow at the base of a woman's neck? "

The hollow refered to is the suprasternal notch. It is considered an erogenous zone.

You can read more about the suprasternal notch and what to do to avoid becoming addicted to it at this tongue-in-cheek website.

Page 163. " He flew a bit with the Afrika Korps. "

The German Afrika Korps (properly known as the Deutsches Afrikakorps) was the name of a 'blocking force' sent to North Africa to aid Italian troops against the Allies during World War II. The force was under the command of the noted general, Erwin Rommel.

Extensive information and photo resources on the Afrika Korps, and the war campaign in North Africa, can be found here.

Rommel's Afrika Korps: Tobruk to El Alamein by Pier Paolo Battistelli

Rommel's Afrika Korps: El Agheila to El Alamein by George R. Bradford

Afrikakorps 1941-43 (Elite) by Ronald Volstad



Page 163. " In 1941 he became a guide for spies, taking them across the desert into Cairo. "

Give background to Almasy's actions...

Page 163. " 'Cicero' was a code name for a spy. "

During World War II an Albanian named Elyesa Bazna passed Allied secrets to the Germans for financial gain. As a valet to an English officer based in Ankara, Turkey, he took photographs of classified British documents. He was given the codename 'Cicero' by the Germans in 1943.

You can read Bazna's first hand account, I Was Cicero, at the Free Library.

The Cicero Spy Affair: German Access to British Secrets in World War II by Richard Wires

A fiction film, called Five Fingers, was made in 1951 based on Cicero's spy career.


Page 165. " Almasy went to school in England. "

Give details of study (including parking ticket!)

Page 166. " Carravaggio had become one of the numerous morphine thieves "