Saturday, May 2, 2009

Cairo Bar Crawl

A week or so after climbing the tower, my friends and I decided to go barhopping in downtown Cairo.

I was dismayed after reading this article, so we set out to determine if there was still a legitimate downtown bar scene.

The Baladi Bar website shows a variety of choices for bars downtown, of which we picked three to check out.

The first place (seen above) was nice, mainly for its history and location (right on one of the main streets and corners in downtown Cairo), but it looked more like the cafeteria of an insane asylum (think Cuckoo's Nest, minus Nurse Ratchet).

Dinner and a dessert

Window display on the street between the first and second bar

Our second stop was a "bar" called El Muriaz. I put that in quotation marks because it can only be referred to as a bar in the sense that it was an enclosed space in which alcohol was served. Upon entering, we were led upstairs, to what can only be described as a brothel for 60-year-old men. I don't think I need to explain why I didn't take pictures inside. We tolerated the horrific "karaoke" (of which we were expected to tip, of course), the 40-year-old overweight dancers and the Dutch-Egyptian businessman with terrible breath, but what we couldn't stand was getting swindled on the bill.

For twenty minutes after we asked for the bill, we watched them try to figure out how to rip us off.  When the bill came, the beer was more expensive than it was in the nicest places in Cairo, and on top of that, there was a curious $5 charge for "TORISM."  After some vehement protesting, we paid about a third of what they initially wanted us to pay and finally escaped.  

Still a little shell-shocked from that cultural experience, we headed off to our favorite downtown bar, Horreyya, to finish off the night well and joke about the ridiculousness of El Muriaz.

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