So, this is what I really did during my trip to Cairo
Leah Walker December 26, 2016

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.

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.

40 Comments

  1. 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!

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

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