Cairo, unquestionably one of the largest, most fascinating and cosmopolitan cities in the world, offers a wealth of monuments and centuries of civilisation, including pharaonic dynasties, Roman, Christian. This bustling city of 18 million people offers a plethora of restaurants and bars, buffet dinner, breath-taking folk dance performances and the signature belly dancing, borrowing influences from both Arab and western cultures. The breeze is as exhilaratng as the chilled smooth Sakkara beer. Cairo nightlife includes strolling along the river and watch people celebrate life. Most book pre-paid tours on luxury travel buses. You may get around in taxis, on horse buggies and on camel-back, besides walking.
Cairo comes alive at night, the best time to shop, eat delicious Middle Eastern cuisine, or simply watch the world go by from a pavement cafe. You can dine in a floating restaurant on the Nile, sample a shisha at a coffee-shop or see oriental dancers and cabarets at a luxury hotel. The splendid Opera House complex houses several galleries (including the Museum of Modern Art), restaurants and concert halls. Listening to Arabic music under the stars, in the open-air theatre, is a magical experience. At El-Ghuriya, in the heart of Islamic Cairo, you can watch folk musicians and whirling dervish dancers. And don't forget the most essential after-dark experience, the Sound and light show at the Pyramids, a dramatic fusion of light and music recounting the story of antiquity.
Colored lights illuminate the Mamluk 13th century complex of al-Mansur Qalawun at night
Take a trip on the Nile in a felucca or ride on horseback from the Giza Pyramids to Saqqara or Museums around Cairo. For a day trip outside Cairo visit Haraniyya village and see the beautiful tapestries and weaving produced by local people. Or get away from it all at the top of the Cairo Tower, a modern 187 metre-high tower with views of the city from all sides, topped by a revolving restaurant.
Cairo offers an incredible selection of shopping leisure, culture and nightlife. shopping ranges from the famous Khan el-Khalili souk, largely unchanged since the 14th century, to modern air-conditioned centres displaying the latest fashions. All the bounty of the East is here-particularly good buys are spices, perfumes, gold and silver, carpets, brass and copper ware, leather work, glass, ceramics and mashrabiya. Try some of the famous street markets, like Wekalet al-balah, for fabrics, including Egyptian cotton, the Tentmakers' Bazaar for applique-work, Mohammed Ali street for musical instruments. Take out a Nile Cruise and enjoy the view of Cairo Tower, Opera House, Egypt Museum.
Egypt's dance - embodying the essence of self-knowing feminine sensuality
Cairo, the Hollywood of belly dancing
Egypt is nonetheless considered "the source" by a variety of devotees, for whom Cairo, the Hollywood of belly dancing, holds unrivalled appeal. It is the home of world-renowned performers, and it is here that the music traditionally accompanying the dance has been much elaborated. Festival attendees seem to agree that Egypt's dance, when well-performed, is an artistic discipline, embodying the essence of self-knowing feminine sensuality.
Yet however impressive Egypt's traditional dance may appear to outsiders, some insiders believe it is in trouble. Local audiences are diminishing. Only a few 5-star hotels and nightclubs still produce the floor shows with large orchestras and dance divas that were once a standard feature of Cairo's nightlife.
signature belly dancing
The cost of these dinner shows ($120 per person) may be part of the problem, but so is the capital's increasingly moralistic atmosphere. Openly-displayed religiosity is more fashionable these days than nightclubbing. But the dance and dancers have always attracted ambivalence. On the one hand, women and men of all ages love to dance and appreciate good dancers. Boys and girls learn through observing adults at family celebrations which would not be complete without music and dance
Abu El Sid
Abu El Sid, located in the upscale Zamalek neighborhood. With its grand wooden carved door, you are instantly transported to a time when Pashas ruled Egypt. As you enter, you are greeted by sumptuous deep colors adorning the walls and chairs, hanging lamps and brass tables with intricate designs are dotted around the restaurant. On offer are renowned Egyptian dishes such as koshari -- which includes macaroni, lentils and chickpeas, complete with hot sauce, fried onions, and stuffed pigeon -- no explanation needed here apart from the stuffing, which is filled with rice. A favorite pastime in this part of the world is smoking a hookah or sheeshah, and Abu El Sid does not disappoint.
Sequoia is an outdoor restaurant covered by tent-like white sheets. Television screens are scattered around the restaurant showing black and white Egyptian films. But don't worry if you don't speak the language, the movies are drowned out by the lounge style music.
The view here is the piece de resistance. It overlooks the Nile. This also means that at this time of the year a soft and refreshing breeze envelopes you. The décor is simple and includes comfortable white chairs and couches. It reminded me of being on the Balearic island of Ibiza.
The Sequoia menu is a mix of Egyptian-style dishes as well as western food, and they are currently working on putting sushi back on the menu. There is also a menu entirely dedicated to sheeshah. You are presented with a board that consists of more than a dozen small plastic cups filled with different types of tobacco. And there is a flavor for everyone, ranging from Red Bull to cinnamon. Because it is a popular hang out among Cairienes and tourists alike, one recommendation is book before you go.
hookah pipe shop, cairo
Also Read: Cairo ShoppingLast Updated on Tuesday 30th November 2010