EGYPT – Cairo, Felucca Ride on the Nile // The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Though it might not be the fastest vessel, a traditional Egyptian felucca definitly has its charme when it comes to seducing a Russian female agent. Well, or at least when you like to get tricked by one. But beware: Nowadays you might get tricked by the Egyptian skipper!
Why Bond was here
In The Spy Who Loved Me James Bond (played by Roger Moore) is send to Egypt to investigate the disappearence of a British submarine. Agent Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) is doing the same regarding a Russian submarine. Both agents skirmish a bit at first, but start working together as they face Jaws (Richard Kiel) – one of the hard-edgedest henchman there is in the Bond movieverse. Escaping him, Bond and Amasova enter a traditional felucca and sun-ship up the Nile. In an overnight trip they sail from Luxor some 140 miles south to Aswan and the temple of Abu Simbel. While Bond uses the ride to huddle, Amasova steals a microfilm 007 previously gained.
The Nile is Egypts lifeline. Thus it is frequented by boats, steamers and skiffs. Still, it can be hard to find a decent Bond-like felucca nowadays if you search in the Delta area. We escaped south of bustling Cairo into its somewhat upperclass neighbourhood Maadi. The quarter on the eastern Nile side is a favorite spot for Caireans to stroll along the Nile corniche or having a waterpipe in the prepped parks. Just tell your taxi driver to bring you to the Maadi Corniche – or hit the Cairo metro to the station called Maadi and then walk some minutes west till you reach the Nile. A good reference point is the Corniche in front of the Japan embassy.
Here you’ll find many captains offering rides on their original feluccas. A trip for one hour costs between 50 and 70 Egyptian pounds, depending on your bargain skills. The captain won’t take you far but steers gently in the cool breeze alongside Maadi. Best time to get there is one hour prior to sunset. Once your out on the Nile, the noise of Cairo will slowly fade away and you can watch a golden sun melting down into the river.
Good to know
You don’t need to go to Maadi to ride a felucca. There is also an anchor point at the eastern Nile side south of Qasr an-Nile Bridge close to Midan Tahrir. You’ll find some steps leading to the riverside in front of an ugly concrete building claiming to be the “Shepheard Hotel & Casino”. But be aware: Cairo locals refer to the felucca as “floka”. And they don’t only call the beautiful boats with the triangle canvas “floka” but nearly everything that floats. In downtown Cairo that means a pink and green illuminated barkasse with noisy Arab pop music on deck. Wedding parties and youngsters love those party boats for a friday evening show-off.
We highly recommend the Maadi late afternoon trip. But, since the party boats are a Cairo characteristic and Bond never misses a party: The best of the ugly boats leave north of Qasr an-Nile Bridge. Prices are the same as for a traditional felucca. If you’re too scared to enter, just watch the spectacle from the bridge. It might just get you in the right mood for a Bondeske bellydance show.
If you want to do the real Bond thing, aswan-individual.com offers felucca rides from Luxor to Aswan. Second, according to Eon productions, it was a beach outside Luxor they used for filming both boarding and disembarking the felucca. Consider that feluccas are very slow – you would take more time than in The Spy Who Loved Me, if you really want to travel south. But, regarding the luxury, you propably will feel just like Amasova and Bond.
As we live in Cairo, the felucca ride in Maadi really became a beautiful timeout for us. The city can be … well, let’s say exhausting. But the hidden gems and kind-hearted people make up for all craziness. The felucca boat captains are prove to that. They don’t mind, if you bring your own food and stuff. So since there is a big table in the middle of the boat: Grab your Martinis!
© 2015 Huntingbond (1,3), © 1977 Danjaq, LLC and United Artists Corporation (2)