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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Monte Carlo: Quick-Stop Gift Shop in Zamalek
On the corner of Ismail Mohamed and Ibn El Nabih Streets in Zamalek is Monte Carlo, a small and bright orange gift shop that seems to have been there forever.
The great thing about this shop is their gift wrapping service. They carry a wide variety of wrapping papers and ribbons in all sorts of colours. Depending on the size of your present, the whole process shouldn’t set you back more than 20LE.
Once you pick up the paper that you want, the guy at the shop won’t be content with just wrapping your gift like a deli sandwich; he’ll go to great extents to make your present look fresh with coordinating colours, glitter and the whole works.
This little shop stocks everything cute and colourful from mugs to teddy bears and everything in between; a better way to describe it would be ‘things that you’d find in your younger sibling’s room.’
The tiny but elongated shop is filled with shelves stocked full with merchandise, with the shelves along the glass shop-front doubling as window display.
Looking for a gift for your brother? Well, an extremely cool collection of football club miniatures was spotted for 30LE, while a not-so-cool collection of model cars was spotted for 100LE.
If you’re looking for a gift for your younger sister, you’re out of luck; most of the ‘girly’ toys here are extremely outdated or damaged. However, they do offer a warm collection of stuffed toys starting at 40LE.
The shop also stocks an ancient collection of Arabic CDs, DVDs and an odd assortment of English DVDs that aren’t old enough to be considered vintage (with the exception of The Wizard of Oz), and definitely not recent enough to buy.
While most of the shop’s merchandise is old and covered in dust, you’ll occasionally find a fascinating ashtray or lamp that is worth the tedious effort of sifting through the shelves.Nonetheless, f you’re looking for a last-minute purchase or you want something quickly wrapped on your way to a birthday bash; then Monte Carlo is your solution.
Gift Carnival has a variety of wrappers, bows, ribbons and such to make gifts as festive as possible and prices range according to size and amount of supplies used. . While they had a lot of plain balloons, the occasion-specific ones were out of stock, although you can also grab some helium balloons (8LE each). Gift bags are also available in surplus, with prices ranging about 10LE. Celebratory cards (12LE) are offered in great variety, many of which were simple and appealing, without being too tacky or fussy.
Apart from gift accessories, you may also find the gift itself while roaming the shop. A definite highlight, and one of the nicest items we’ve seen around, were porcelain travel mugs (100LE) in a range of vibrant colours and patterns.
The shop also carries lightweight storage pieces - essentially a straw chest of drawers - at a very steep price of 790LE; single baskets are also available, most useful for storing small items and knickknacks. Interestingly, the Gift Carnival had quite the selection of scarves claiming to be Burberry and Gucci, at 100LE to 150LE.
Other household items include candles; a large one was discounted from 260LE to 130LE, while scented candles come at a much more reasonable price between 20LE and 40LE. Gift Carnival also has a range of kitchen utensils such as egg whiskers, cheese graters, cheese knives and vegetable peelers – all around 20LE each.
If you’re looking to decorate your Christmas tree, the shop also has a bunch of tree ornaments available. Though not very exciting or unique, a box of large round ornaments, with two per packet, costs 25LE.
The knickknacks are endless at Gift Carnival. Louis Vuitton inspired lighters, refrigerator magnets, decorative boxes, pillows, stuffed animals, there appears to be no restricted theme.
If you’re looking to wrap a gift or buy a helium balloon than Gift Carnival is likely a good stop.