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We were taking a stroll on Twitter when we were pleasantly bombarded with a slew of green – it took us a minute to figure out what’s up, but then we realized that Etisalat had started a hashtag called #GameOfGreen, and Twitter users were more than happy to play along by tweeting in pictures of their favorite green things.

So that got us to thinking – psychologists have been emphasizing the power of green for decades:

“Green is perceived as calming and reassuring. On a 'primitive' psychological level, the color green tells us that we are safe: In a fertile, water-rich environment, above freezing temperatures, there is enough to eat and we will survive. We can relax. Green is a "feel good" color.”

Source: Psychological Effects of the Color Green

Now, that’s all fine and dandy and easy if, you know, we were living in Austria. However, the problem that most Cairenes have is that their daily surroundings look something like this:

cairoView from our office window. Photo credit: Leila Tapozada

But just because we’re a sprawling concrete metropolis in a desert doesn’t mean we don’t need some green in our lives. And luckily, there are a few places in Cairo where you can find just that, even if you don’t belong to a sporting club.

So next time you feel like you need to unwind and rest your eyes on something peaceful, head out to these green spaces in Cairo:

1. Family Park

Family Park

A huge expanse of green space in Rehab on Cairo-Suez road. The best thing about this park is that it’s not just a place to sit and waste a few hours – they call themselves an “edutainment center”, with art workshops, a 3D cinema, and tons of fun things for your kids. But it’s totally up to you; if you want to go and just lie on the grass in the sun for a few hours no one will judge you.

Price: you have to buy a ticket to enter, and they go from 30 LE to 135 LE, depending on what activities you’ll be doing there.

When best to go: you can check their Facebook page or website for special events; for example they have a kids' winter camp going on at the moment. Drop your kids off and spend a day in the winter sun. 

Family Park 2

Family Park 3

2. Mohamed Aly Club

Mohamed Aly Club

You’ve probably been to a wedding here before once or twice, but have you ever been just for fun? The club’s garden and palm trees stretch all the way down to the Nile, so you get a river view and greenery for the price of one. They have a villa there (complete with pool) that you can rent out for day-use, and recently Nacelle and The Tap have been teaming up to throw their FunknPop picnic parties there, in the grass on the banks of the Nile. The daytime party has live bands, a DJ, drinks from The Tap and burgers from the newly-opened Fat Cow. People are strewn all over the grass on picnic blankets and bean bags. If you haven’t been, it’s definitely worth a go.

Price: the last FunknPop party was for 150 LE, and keep your eyes and ears peeled for the next one.

For day-use (separate from Nacelle’s party), call: 012-22113681

When best to go: considering it's currently winter, I wouldn't recommend using the pool anytime soon, but look out for a sunny weekend coming up and go spend a day there. You can bring your own food and drinks and make a picnic out of it.

Mohamed Aly Club 2

Mohamed Aly Club 3

3. Azhar Park

Azhar Park

Ah, an old favorite. I remember that when Azhar Park opened up years ago, we all grimly prophesized its demise at the hands of the Egyptian public. But, we’re happy to announce, we were totally wrong and pessimistic as per usual. Azhar is still very well taken care of, still cheap, still clean, and still has the best panorama in all of Egypt.

Price: 5 LE

When best to go: mornings, when most people are at school or work. Or you can go around sunset and watch the sun sink over the city. 

Azhar Park 2

Azhar Park 3

4. Maadi

MaadiSource: Noha Hassan on Flickr

Sure, Maadi is not what it used to be, what with Road 9 turning into Marina 4 recently. But there’s a whole section of Maadi, after Road 9 and before Maadi Gedida, which is perfect for walking and getting lost among the trees. This area is called Maadi Sarayat (plus some of Degla), and it’s the ideal location for bike riding, dog-walking, or just strolling along green, flower-laden streets.

Price: Zero. I mean, you might get lost for an hour or five, but when you’re walking in an area that’s actually pleasant, is it really that bad?

When best to go: early Friday mornings. The streets are completely empty and you don't have to worry about people staring or bothering you if you're a girl walking alone or on a bike. 

Maadi 2Source: theatkins.org

Maadi 3Source: Fraigo on Flickr

5. Zamalek Aquarium Grotto

Zamalek Aquarium Grotto

I went to this place maybe a decade ago for the first time, under the impression it was a real aquarium, and was vaguely traumatized by a) the lack of live fish, and b) the abundance of dead ones in jars. But recently some clever people at the Zamalek Association have decided to start ignoring the “aquarium” part and focus on the “grotto” part, which is wise because the grounds themselves are beautiful, full of fresh grass and shady areas under trees. Now almost every weekend there’s an event being held there, whether it’s a festival, a Christmas market, bazaar, etc.

Price: 3 LE for Egyptians, 20 LE for foreigners. 

When best to go: on the specific Saturdays when Taste of Zamalek is there. Vendors set up stands (food, arts and crafts, clothes, books, jewelry, etc.) and music plays in the background. It’s a great place to browse the stands, buy some homemade cookies, and just lounge around in the grass.

Zamalek Aquarium Grotto 2

Zamalek Aquarium Grotto 3Photo sources: Zamalek Association 

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