Friday, February 26, 2016

Café au Nil

Well, we made it here in one piece, and with the jetlag wearing off, I'm almost starting to feel human again.

Cairo is much as it ever was, improved in some respects and even more dire in others.  I was last here in the early summer of 2013, when the hapless government of the Muslim Brotherhood was tottering into its last days. Now the streets are a good bit cleaner (and rather remarkably so in the old downtown), but that's not saying there's not still rather a way to go.  Traffic, almost impossibly, has managed to get a great deal worse and is a topic of universal conversation.

But, as evidenced here, the Nile still flows, and there are still at least a few quite lovely places from which to admire it. We made it to this one, a longtime favorite, a day or two ago, and a lovely afternoon it was. We've also discovered, alas, that another of our favorite places - a tiny hole-in-the-wall that had the most fantastic shrimp and calamari sandwiches in the world - has vanished, but we'll survive. A third, the grandly faded old Café Riche, still exists, but now has service so atrocious - even by flexible local standards - that it might as well not (we left after thirty waiterless minutes).

In home news, the apartment has been set to rights, with quick visits from an electrician, a plumber, and our neighbor's unnervingly giddy houseman to make minor repairs and get things tidied up. The Mister has gone off to deal with things familial for a day or two, leaving me to fend for myself, and as soon as I hit "post" I'm heading off to a festive brunch with an old friend who has a lovely and deeply enviable flat in Zamalek, the island in the Nile that's home to many of the city's more cosmopolitan types. He's a got a view even better than this and connections that guarantee a solid wine cellar, so it should be a lovely afternoon.

And since it's Friday (which, remember, is more or less Sunday), there's even the possiblity that I won't, to the extent that's usually the case, be taking my life entirely in my hands, or rather those of a daredevil Cairo taxi driver. Wish me luck.


  1. I'm so glad you're having a good time. Being ignored by waiters for a half hour would tempt me to arson, but that's just my flair for the dramatic.

  2. What a view! Now get into a bit of trouble, and then spill the beans.

  3. lovely view - this isn't at Sequoia perchance...?

    1. Good eye! And it's gotten very fancy. I still miss the old place, when it was the well-worn and much-beloved local outpost of the best chicken restaurant in the world, Andrea (the original location of which, out at the Pyramids, has also apparently been much tarted-up).

    2. well, the furniture is pretty distinctive! Haven't been to Andrea Giza in years. Must check it again next time I'm there - thanks!

  4. Our rivers are frozen over. I'd forgotten what water looks like.