From the title of this post, you may be thinking that I am referring to myself. Oh, how wrong you would be. This past week a small band of friends piled into a few cars and wound our way up and out of Maadi to the Moquattam hills in search of the fabled Virginian Pub and Cafe.
We departed immediately after school in order to beat the sunset. Rumor had it that The Virginian is one of Cairo's best kept secrets. Tucked up into the hillside, over looking the City of the Dead, Islamic Cairo and downtown, the patio of The Virginian offers one of the best views of the city.
Entering the Virginian brings to mind an old hotel whose doors were locked in 1967, the key to which was recently discovered again. A layer of dust covers nearly every piece of furniture in the place. Leather chairs are cracked and worn. Mylar "Happy New Year!" signs still hang from the wall, vestiges of celebrations long past. A dilapidated stage stands unobtrusively in the background of the crown jewel: the patio.
Every day is New Year's Day at the Virginian
It felt as though the white sheets had been removed seconds before we arrived.
The bar looked like something preserved from an old shipwreck
Adding to the time warp sensation was the musical selection. The Carpenters, the Bee Gees, and Tom Jones competed with the call to prayer emanating from the mosques below. This was truly surreal. With all of its quirks, the Virginian's claim to fame does not disappoint. The view of the city was well worth the trek.
The City of the Dead
Yes, this was a "clear" day in Cairo. The Giza pyramids are visible in the background.
The city lights of Cairo
Food and drink are limited at the Virginian. The only beer available is the local Stella, and tirmis (salted beans in olive oil), pita bread, tahina and french fries rounded out the food portion of the menu. You are allowed, however, to bring your own picnic and beverages.
Aside from our small party, I only spotted two other tables of guests. Both appeared to be young, unmarried Egyptian couples seated in discreet locations far apart from one another. My friend Moh, an Egyptian who had organized this outing, said that this was a place where young couples came to be together away from the disapproving eye of Egyptian society. What happens at the Virginian, stays at the Virginian.