By Juergen Stryjak
If a stranger says an Egyptian proverb, drinks the water of the Nile, then he will return again and again to the land on the Nile. I doubt if it has ever really been advisable to drink directly from the Nile, but the proverb gives no indication of how this should be done. While Egypts ancestors may have boiled the water, even within living memory, today it comes out from the tap after an expensive and large-scale processing in modern waterworks. The Cairenes drink it every day, and some tourists may have sampled it without realizing it, as the inevitable glass of tap water served with tea or coffee ultimately cames from the Nile.
The deeper meaning of the proverb says: The Nile is Egypts soul. Without this majestic river, none of the wonders, which tourists from all over the world come to admire, would exist in the middle of the rough desert that dominates Egypts landscape. No pyramids, no mosques, no churches, no agriculture in the delta, no cotton fields in Upper Egypt nothing. Everything depends on the river, and ultimately, so do the Egyptians themselves.
If not a Nile cruise of several days, a night spent on the Nile or at least an evening seems to be a must for every tourist. A number of floating restaurants in Cairo, for example, respond to this desire and offer a special nightlife experience. All of them entertain their guests with more than only with a luxurious dinner. The tour includes belly dance shows and live music of all styles, Arabic as well as Western, and sufi or even acrobatic performances.
The most luxurious of these boats is the Marriott Nile Maxim, which imitates an old flat Pharaonic barge. The food is excellent, the live band plays and sings Arabic classics as well as modern jazz standards, and the belly dancer is one of the countless Russians, which have dominated the Egyptian dance scene recently. The two Egyptian male dancers on board know their job, and it doesnt matter whether they move to modern sounds or old Arabic tunes. A group of Japanese tourists, which I saw the last time there, enjoyed the show, although none of them was brave enough to accept the belly dancers persistent invitation to join her on the stage. The whole cruise lasts around two hours, enough for watching the show as well as admiring Cairos fabulous skyline, and for consuming the entire meal from mezze ( appetizers) to dessert, in a relaxed atmosphere. Dont expect to be able to top that romantic event with an intimate talk with your darling. The music is just too loud for that.
Another choice for a different nightlife experience are The Pharaos cruising restaurants. These two boats are probably the most thematic ones among Cairos floating restaurants. But come on, where else but in Egypt should one be ready for a little Pharaonic Disneyland at least once during your trip? The boarding alone is a great event. Soldiers with javelins and servants in Pharaonic dresses await the guests at the dock. The light is glaring, the scene very solemn and every guest is welcomed as royalty. The cruise lasts two hours, too, and the program is similar to the one at the Nile Maxim, with some minor differences: The dinner is a rich dinner buffet and if you dare to dance with the belly dancer on stage, you will receive a snapshot of this memorable moment by the time you leave the boat.
Of the S/S Nile Peking, it is said that this is the renovated boat of Agatha Christies Death On The Nile, embellished with traditional Chinese ornamentation: oriental calligraphy and red lanterns. It features several restaurants and pubs, including a large dining area, a Mongolian barbecue and the Shanghai Pub. Cruises are usually more than two hours long, but they dont follow a very regular schedule and therefore it is better to confirm this by telephone. If docked, the restaurants and bars are open daily between 1:00 am and 1:00 pm.
Nile Maxim. In front of the Marriott Hotel, Seray El-Gezirah Street, Zamalek, Cairo. Dinner Cruises every evening at 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm. Telephone: 73 58 88. Price: Expensive. Reservation recommended.
The Pharaos. 138, Al-Nil Street, Giza, off the Zoological Garden. Telephone: 57 01 000. Fax: 57 03 737. Dinner Cruises every evening at 7:00 pm and 21:30 pm. Reservation recommended. Prices: LE 120 (USD 32) for the whole trip including dinner buffet and show, excluding alcoholic beverages.
S/S Nile Peking. Corniche El-Nil, Old-Cairo, Cairo, near to the south tip of the island El-Roda. Telephone: 51 70 839. If cruising, a dinner course comes for between LE 55 (USD 15) and LE 80 (USD 22), excluding beverages.
Last Updated: June 9th, 2011