While in Cairo, Eat on a Mini Cruise
One of the latest fashions to hit the Egyptian capital is going on mini-cruises on the Nile to have lunch or dinner. These so called "Tourist Restaurants" are on the itinerary of many tourist groups and are also famous amongst Egyptians themselves.
One of Many Dinner Cruise Ships
Most tours do not last more than two to three hours between various points on both sides of the Nile, usually in front of large hotels. The trips go up and down the river, either to another disembarking point, such as south to Maadi, or back to the same spot. The timing, content and price will differ from one boat to another, but they offer lunch, sun-set tea, or full dinner on board, complete with entertainment. Prices range from LE 30 ($7.50) for tea and cake, to LE 100 ($ 25) for a full dinner.
Egyptians appreciate rides on the Nile anytime. Some even hold their wedding receptions on such boat trips and invite their guests for a meal on board. Others hold their birthdays with friends and dance to 70's and 80's music by the on-board band.
As for tourists, the main attraction is the belly dance routine, which usually come on later in the program, after the main course and just before the coffee. Tourists are sometimes invited to share a dance with the belly dancer, so shy individuals should keep well away from the centre stage.
The cuisine is usually international with a salad bar, and a choice of meats or vegetarian. There is also a choice of buffet, and a selection of Egyptian dishes. The music can sometimes be on the loud side, but it goes on for two short periods during an average of a two-hour journey.
Some Egyptian residents love the idea, especially that the food is of acceptable quality, and the entertainment is good. But most of the all, the main attractions are the views outside while floating on the Nile. Worth a try.
The Egyptian Museum's Centenary
Next year the famous Egyptian museum in Tahrir Square will celebrate its first centenary. It was designed a century ago, by the French architect , Marcel Dorgnu, and became one of the earliest dedicated museums in the world. The fashion in the last century was to hold museums in the palaces and the grand mansions of the aristocracy.
In fact, the Egyptian museum itself is now a listed building. But of more importance are the the contents of pharaonic treasures inside, which are priceless. Although the museum will probably keep some of its contents during its next century, the current plans are to build a new even grander museum over 60 feddans, on the outskirts of Cairo in the direction of the Cairo-Alexandria desert road.
The display in the new museum will cover Egyptian history on a chronological basis, starting from the dawn of time. In the last half-century many pre-historic items and artifacts have been discovered in Egypt, but lack a proper place to display them.
There will also be a prominent display for the "Builders of the Pyramids", those artisans and workers, whose tombs were discovered recently near the Pyramids themselves. Egyptians are very proud of this discovery, which dispels outlandish theories of other races or outer space creatures contributing to the building of the pyramids. It is a source of great pride to modern Egyptians, that the pyramids were built by their ancestors.
The new museums will also display the history of Greek and Roman Egypt. There will also be a space for special collections such as King Tutankhamun's, which is likely to be transferred to the new museum. A collection of royal mummies will also be on display in a controlled environment to protect and preserve their condition.
Monuments discovered in Egypt since 1932 have been in storage for lack of display space in the old museum. These will have a place in the new museum.
The new museum is likely to cost in excess of $ one billion, but will be financed from international contributions and from its own revenues. Gift shops, restaurants and shopping malls will be part of the overall design.
Ra's al Hikma, makhafat allah:
Literally: The zenith of wisdom is the fear of God. A guideline for Egyptian behavior, especially towards others. Fairness and compassion with others, especially the less fortunate, are expected from those who profess to be good and wise.
"I read the inscriptions on the walls, and cried; for this was the proof I have lived for that the Egyptians were indeed the builders of the Great Pyramids".
Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawas upon discovering the tombs of the workers and artisans believed to be the builders of the Giza pyramids (from an article in Arabic in the local press)