So, this is what I really did during my trip to Cairo

I don’t normally announce my travel plans prior to a trip. I’m a person who doesn’t hold her breath until things actually happen. Not only does it save myself disappointment, but also keeps me from having to explain why something didn’t work out as expected. So, when I popped up on Facebook Live on November 22 from Charles de Gaulle Airport to announce the trip to Cairo, it didn’t seem out of character. After all, ten months earlier I’d revealed my trip to Japan with Chef Cyril Lignac in the same manner. But this visit to Cairo, my first to Egypt and Northern Africa, was much more than a regular press trip. So, this is what I really did during my trip to Cairo.

Downtown Cairo reminds me of my beloved Paris, including Talaat Harb Square.

On Friday, November 4, I received an email from a producer who was working on an advertorial for CNN, commissioned by the Egyptian Tourism Authority {ETA}. The producer wanted to know if I was interested in appearing on video as they explored the rebirth of Downtown Cairo. Filming was to occur November 21-27, only a couple of weeks away. Obviously, I was intrigued, and a Skype call was organized for a few hours later.

A walk through the Khan el-Khalili souk garnered us a lot of attention.

I felt really confident after the call, but the producer said that she needed the approval of not only the director, but also the agency representing the ETA. There were several other hurdles to jump, and I tried to manage my excitement. On November 11, I found out that I’d made the short list. With one more barrier behind me, it became even more difficult to quell my enthusiasm.

On November 16, I received a message requesting a Skype call with the director and producer. I assumed that the director, Adam Woods, wanted to speak with me prior to making his decision. After about five minutes of chatting, Adam said, “Do you fancy a trip to Cairo on Monday?” Ummmm…YES, I’d be happy to work with the #1 news channel in the world. I was to leave for Cairo on November 22.

Talaat Harb Square is one of Cairo’s most historical locations.

With an Annecy trip planned from November 18-21, I had exactly one day to prepare for Cairo. Thanks to ElssCollection, I quickly found three clothing looks that worked perfectly with the director’s vision, and Samuel Rocher cut my hair. Perhaps the hardest part was keeping my mouth shut about what I was really doing in Egypt.

Tuesday, November 23 was spent securing filming permits and scouting locations in Downtown Cairo. Originally designed in the mid-1800s by the famous Parisian city planner, Baron Haussmann, Downtown Cairo is currently being revitalized. The area was the place to be for aristocrats, artists, British officers, and intellectuals in the early 20th century. It was after the Free Officers Revolution in 1952 that Downtown Cairo’s sparkle began to dull. But as I wandered through passageways and buildings, I could see the original beauty–what it was then, and what it can be again.

A gorgeous setting at the InterContinental Cairo Semiramis’ Grill Restaurant & Lounge

The next three days were spent filming, a process that fascinated me. The time, energy, and effort required to create a short video is mind boggling. I can’t imagine the process of making a full-length film. We had a crew of 22 people managing the sound, lights, and cameras, as well as those dealing with logistics. Experienced and professional, the crew made it look easy, though I know it certainly wasn’t.

By Saturday, November 26, I was back in Paris. In the subsequent days, I moved flats and left for the USA. Once in Texas, I wrote an article for CNN, as well as recorded the voice over several times. I saw multiple versions of the edit, and loved seeing Adam’s vision come to fruition. From beginning to end, I enjoyed every minute of this new experience. In fact, the presenting bug has bit me. This is something I’d definitely love to do again on a larger scale. Well, we’ll see what opportunities unfold. I never expected this chance with CNN, so who knows what the future holds?

 This shot from sunset on the Nile didn’t make the final cut.

The Egypt Tourism Authority campaign is appearing on CNN International across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Thus, if you’re located in those markets, you’ll see my 45-second advertorial across your TV screen multiple times per day, beginning December 26.

On CNN.com, you can see more videos and my article about Downtown Cairo.

There also is a microsite on CNN.com {International Edition} with the advertorial, an article written by me, as well as information about Egyptian tourism and Downtown Cairo {See the microsite here}. The primary markets for the digital campaign include Germany, Italy, the UK, Russia, the Netherlands, Austria, France, and the Czech Republic. Other digital markets include Ukraine, Poland, Belgium, Switzerland, and Scandinavia.

Getting directions from the director, Adam Woods

So, what was I really doing in Cairo? I was getting a taste of life in front of the camera. Since I couldn’t share as I normally do via social media, I documented the experience and created a behind-the-scenes video of my own. It’s absolutely amateur compared to Adam’s final version, but c’est la vie!

You may view the final version of the advertorial on my home page.

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41 Comments
  • Jennifer
    December 26, 2016

    This is so exciting! I’ll be on the lookout for your commercial on CNN.

    • Leah Walker
      December 27, 2016

      Merci beaucoup for all of your support and friendship. It means the world to me.

  • Rebecca Plotnick
    December 26, 2016

    This is amazing!! so happy for you!! Hard work pays off! I can’t wait to see what you do in 2017! Best wishes to you.

    • Leah Walker
      December 27, 2016

      Thank you, Rebecca. I can’t wait to see what happens in 2017, because I absolutely have no clue!

  • Cristina Baker
    December 26, 2016

    If the CNN spot is even half as good as yours, it will be amazing!

    • Leah Walker
      December 27, 2016

      Oh, you’re too kind. Adam’s spot is so beautiful. He’s such a talented and nice man.

  • Raymond @ Man On The Lam
    December 26, 2016

    So happy for you Leah! What a wonderful opportunity!! 🙂

  • Leyla Giray Alyanak
    December 26, 2016

    And I must be the only European who DOESN’T get CNN because I do all my TV watching online… I’ll have to wait for the microsite then. Next time I’m in Paris, un petit autographe, please? 🙂

    • Leah Walker
      December 27, 2016

      An autograph? Haha! How about a coffee or pastry?

  • Tanisha
    December 26, 2016

    Super awesome Leah!! Congrats 😃

    • Leah Walker
      December 27, 2016

      Merci beaucoup! We’ll toast upon your return to Paris?

  • noel
    December 26, 2016

    Fantastic opportunity and congrats to you, hope you have fantastic 2017 travel opportunities ahead Leah.

    • Leah Walker
      December 27, 2016

      Thank you, Noel. And bon voyages to you in 2017 as well.

  • J Green
    December 26, 2016

    Thanks for sharing a quick look at Cairo. Such beauty and history– hopefully at some point we will be able to see the advertorial. No doubt we will be seeing more of the world with Leah Walker in the future.. Happy New Year!

    • Leah Walker
      December 27, 2016

      It was a quick look for me, too. I’d love to dive into the city and country more. Thousands and thousands of years of history to discover. I’m sure the spot and my article will be online soon. I’ll be sure and post it.

  • Laurie
    December 26, 2016

    Happy Christmas on your Mama’s birthday, dear Leah! Don’t you know she is smiling on you and your new life of possibilities today! God be with you.

    • Leah Walker
      December 27, 2016

      The spot was supposed to begin a few weeks ago. When I got the email saying it would begin on December 26, I smiled and thought of my mother. Bittersweet, indeed.

  • Kathy Rowe
    December 26, 2016

    You are so perfect for this. I hope this leads to more offers, perhaps seek out an agent and voila, you’ll have your own show.

    • Leah Walker
      December 27, 2016

      Oh, you make it sound so easy, Miss Hollywood! Thank you for your past, present, and future support.

  • Savi and Vid
    December 27, 2016

    That is so amazing Leah 🙂 Congratulations 😀

    We’ll try and see the video on YouTube. TV filming is so much fun, isn’t it? One doesn’t realise how much filming effort goes in just for a few minutes of footage !!

    Much Love

    • Leah Walker
      January 14, 2017

      I know! I can’t imagine doing an entire series, but would love the opportunity. I’d love to see what you did last year. Any links for that?

  • Monique
    December 27, 2016

    I’m in Cairo at the moment. I’ll turn on my tv later to see if I can catch the clip. Congratulations.

    • Leah Walker
      January 14, 2017

      Thank you, Monique. It’s on my home page now in case you didn’t see it.

  • Suze - Luxury Columnist
    December 28, 2016

    I’m looking forward to seeing the video, it must have been an incredible experience and it’s good to think that it will put Cairo back on the tourist map

    • Leah Walker
      January 14, 2017

      It really was a lot of fun and something I’d love to do again. The final version is on my home page now.

  • Lola
    December 30, 2016

    Just saw your commercial on CNN here in Sweden, Leah!!! Major congratulations!!

  • Stephanie
    December 31, 2016

    What a fantastic opportunity! Congratulations! I’m sure it will lead to more amazing things for you! I’ve always wanted to travel to and explore Egypt, its pyramids, the Nile, Cairo and delve into its history. Hopefully one day!

    • Leah Walker
      January 14, 2017

      I understand exactly you’re desire for Egypt. I can’t wait to return. Merci 🙂

  • Kristine
    December 31, 2016

    This is so exciting! Here’s to more adventures ahead for you in the new year! 💕

  • Shealyn Emery
    December 31, 2016

    This is awesome! I never knew Cairo is so beautiful! Congratulations!

    • Leah Walker
      January 14, 2017

      There are so many sides of Cairo, and I barely scratched the surface.

  • Marissa
    January 1, 2017

    What an incredible experience! Congratulations and best wishes for more opportunities in 2017!

  • Erin
    January 6, 2017

    So exciting! Congratulations!

  • Lisa
    February 5, 2017

    your version (of the video) is 10x better than the CNN version; not only is it more representative of Egypt in general, but of what people will (and should!) actually see.

  • Karim S
    February 23, 2017

    Hello Leah. The ad brought me to your blog so I guess everyone wins 🙂 Good work!

  • Agness of eTramping
    June 20, 2017

    You had a fabulous time in Cairo, Leah! Thanks or sharing your experience and motivating us!

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