Saturday, February 2, 2008

Budha Bar!

Having spent most of my time visiting monuments, mosques etc, decided it was time to let down my hair (figuratively and literally speaking) and go shake a leg at a nice night spot.

Had been hearing about the Budha Bar for a while, so decided that come Friday evening, that's where we would head!! The Buddha Bar was started by a Raymond Visan in Paris, and later co-owned by his current partner Gerard Guez. The bar are dominated by a large statue of Buddha Buddha Bar has also opened venues in Dubai, Beirut and Cairo. Smaller versions named Little Buddha Bar are located in Las Vegas, Vienna, Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh. The Buddha Bar originally became popular because of the DJs choice of avant-garde "Lounge" and "Chill Out" genre's of music. Compilation CDs of similar music are released under the Buddha Bar series.

Egypt has three Budha Bars - one at Sharm-el-Sheikh, one at Hurgada and the third in Cairo. The Cairo one is located in the Sofitel Geziera on the banks of the Nile. The way it is designed, the Grand Mezzanine houses the bar, while you have to troop down the staircase to the dining area.

Being new to the Cairo night scene, we of course reached much too early. While 11 o'clock may not be early by many standards, it certainly is by Cairenes' yardstick. The bar was not completely full, they had some lounge music playing, and the dinner place downstairs looked full! Though I suspect, even for dinner, it was probably the expat population / hotel guests. No Egyptian worth his salt, would be caught dead having dinner at 11 o'clock, that too on Friday night!!

We ordered drinks which included a strawberry magherita. My friend almost ordered an additional shot to add to her maargherita to get a taste of the alcohol that she was supposed to have ordered. Surprise, surprise, the glass had sugar instead of salt lining the rim of the glass ( I thought that was carrying the Egyptian weakness for sugar too far!). Other than that excitement, our drinks were fine, the juices fresh and undiluted, the lighting appropriately dim and the music very lounge...

After a while, we moved down for dinner. As you walk down the steps, a huge statue of Budha greets you. We were ushered to a table right by the window which gives you the most gorgeous view of the Nile, as you overlook the palms in the hotel courtyard. Looking out from our vantage point, you could be forgiven for believing for an instant that you are in the Carribean instead.

The menu is predominantly sea-food (heavens help my poor vegetarian stomach!) but the desserts sounded absolutely delicious!

As we waited for our food to arrive, we suddenly realised that conversation was begining to prove to be a tad difficult. The music had suddenly become a lot more hip hop and loud! My oh my, what great music - I swear I have not heard such fantastic Arabic music before. Maybe it was just the remixing, maybe the atmosphere or maybe the drinks, but the music was fabulous. A mix of English, Spannish, Arabic, the place just rocked.

We finally left around 1.30 am (still very early by Cairo standards) promising to return very soon, and this time not before midnight!

Edit: 18 Mar 08: Went to Budha Bar again last night, around 11.30 pm. For a Monday night, it was decently populated but the buzz of a Thursday or Friday night is missing. So it would appear that even the Cairenes take a break from partying late, begining of the week!!

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