Gabriele Annan

Pyramids Street runs double track from the centre of Cairo to the western suburb of Ghiza. Seafood restaurants and night-clubs with belly-dancing line the final few kilometres. The last building is the Mena House, a soaring, turreted Oriental San Simeon set in luscious grounds. Now a hotel, it was once a royal hunting-lodge. Across the road lies an enclosure where camels and Arab steeds wait to take tourists up the last steep bend to the Pyramids. When the camels with their robed drivers lurch in for work, the early sun glows crimson and scarlet on their trappings, and from our sixth-floor window at the Mena House I try to achieve Delacroix effects with my instamatic. It is not easy to exclude the souvenir stalls, pylons, concrete lampposts and small unlovely concrete mosque from the frames. Behind the Pyramids the desert begins.

The full text of this diary is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.

You are not logged in