Monday, February 16, 2015

mena house, part 1

Our weekend adventure = a night at The Mena House.

the view from our room's balcony. whaaaaaaaaaat.

Ah, Mena House. A few things:

The Mena House was built in 1869 and was first used as a hunting lodge. Ownership switched hands in 1886 and the grounds were used as a hotel(apparently a few years later they built Egypt's first swimming pool). The hotel was converted into a hospital near the end of World War I.

photo source: Irene Victoria Read papers, pictorial material and relics, 1839-1951, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Over the years, the Mena House went through various renovations and hosted an impressive list of visitors(Charlie Chaplin, Frank Sinatra, Richard Nixon, Winston Churchill to name a few).

J and I drove out there on Saturday afternoon. It's been a year since we've been out to Giza/the pyramids. On clear days/from certain areas in Cairo you can see the pyramids in the distance, but it is nothing like being in Giza, right next to them. Our route included busy roads lined by newer buildings(J noted even 10 years ago none of the buildings were there, just farmland). From most windows you could see laundry hanging out to dry. Colorful garments weighing down the lines, each long sleeved shirt with arms raised upside down. Traffic was a little heavy once we entered town, but I didn't mind--thick traffic means plenty of time to look around and people watch a bit.

We couldn't wait to get in our room and check out the view from our balcony(as pictured above). The room was absurdly nice--an open plan, new fixtures and a darker finish on the wood.

sitting area just inside our balcony doors

We had a late day snack in the bar area--there were tables outdoors next to the reflecting pool, which reflected the pyramids beautifully. The air was chilly and that coupled with my general excitement made me shiver a bit. I couldn't help it. The moment felt so extraordinary and surreal and this is my life are you serious? We watched other guests of the hotel filter in around us. So far we appeared to be the only americans.

And when I tell you that I had the BEST mezza I have ever, ever experienced in all my 33 years of life, I am not kidding. We ordered the mezza to share and at first I quietly wondered why it was taking a while to get to our table(forgive me, I was hungry). Ah, but once it arrived I understood the delay. Every single bit of the dish was fresh fresh fresh.

Here is where I pause to stare at that photo and let my heart skip a couple beats.



That tabbouleh? UNREAL. Just plucked and chopped, fresher than fresh. I don't eat cheese but I took J's word for it when he said the cheese was incredible. The grape leaves were perfectly marinated and wrapped immaculate. I couldn't stop eating the hummus. There were bits of falafel stuffed with walnut and warm pita bread. This meal made us mad at all other food we've had in the past.

view from our table:

After going to heaven via mezza, we decided to walk around and explore the grounds a bit.

path to the main building were we checked in, also where private/more expensive suites are located

Mena House adventure to be continued in next entry(part deux)...

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