Monday, March 28, 2011

Politics and my continued Tourism ad !!!

I should be writing everyday...

It's not like I am dancing everyday. Unfortunatly.

Do I sound down about it? Thats because I am! I have never done so little dancing since I started 16 years ago- I miss it- and my body misses it too! Never mind the financial element... I need to move my body. I have become addicted to the hormones that are released when you dance!

I still only have 2 shows per week on the Pharoah... there just aren't enough Tourists in town.

The Arab tourists haven't made it back yet either. Although that might be more to do with what is going on in their own countries than not wanting to be in Egypt! This entire Arab/North African world shake up is amazing to witness... Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yeman... everywhere..... I pray for quick resolutions for everyone and safety for those who are trying to make their country a better place for them and their children.

Meanwhile in Egypt, post revolution... Things are happening... but the majority of people I speak to are very depressed with it all. There will be elections... but for now there are still no political parties formed which really voice and support the original demands of the people who started the revolution. Without being able to form political groups in the last 30 years... its become difficult for people to even imagine how to, especially when it is needed to be done now and quickly in order to educate people about issues and how to vote. Also the idea that the army was the peoples friend is being serverly questioned due to accusations of tortue and abuse. 'Friends' don't treat each other this way! so politically the country is still in a mess. Not helped when i speak to people who didn't go and vote in the recent referendum.... i asked my dresser why she didn't vote- her sad response... 'because the queues were too long at the polling station... and anyway- do you really think MY opinion counts, that i would make a difference? I don't matter - no one would listen to me'. I tried to explain that this was EXACTLY what democracy meant- that her opinion does count- and would matter... but i could tell she thought i was deluded.

So, the way forward for the country... for people to educate each other! I saw a fabulous article about exactly this on a protesters blog...

So what else is happening in Cairo...? well- everything!
 Ok, so the Nile Group Festival unfortunately had to cancel their April festival, but there are still dancers performing ( at the Nile Pharoah there's me, Outi, Mona and Magda, at Nile Maxim there Randa, Leila and Joana.... not sure who else is on where, but will be sure to find out over next few weeks when my 'Hotel Bellylorna' fills with dancers from all over the world who want to go and see shows!!!). And of course- since we have limited performing oppertunities.. it means us dancers are, more than ever, available and interested in giving private classes!

Also the costume shops are empty of customers....  and they are still making those fabulous costumes.......all those shiny, beautiful, silky costumes just waiting for you to come along and try them on....... !!!

So if it's a dance holiday you are after...
I wouldn't let the politics stop you!
Come visit! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

to come or not to come to Egypt...?

I'm biased... I live here... and I am trying earn a living within the tourism industry. But I'd like to argue why my answer is come...!!!

Yes- there is still a curfew (midnight at time of writing), yes there are still some tanks on the streets, yes occasionally there are still protests and sometimes buildings get set on fire (very specific ones- like ministry of interior yesterday)


-) there are police back on the streets and traffic and businesses are all running normallly during daytime.

-) the army and police are both there for tourist protection and although there are still reports of horrific human rights abuses... these are only directed at the protesters... not at visitors. In fact never have tourists been more welcome... every taxi i get into these days is so happy to see foreigners here- they know the country stuggles without them

-) curfew can't calm Cario! The parties all happen early in the evening- band play from 7 or 7.30pm instead of from 10.30, 11pm....  so actually if you want to party- and do sights ( or dance related stuff) during the daytime NOW is the time where you can do both and still get sleep!!!!! There are even cabarets open from 8pm!!!

-) the sights are open- and never before has there been a better time to view them... with no other tourists in your photos!!!

-)the weather is lovely and sunny, but not too hot!

-) dancers are still dancing... there are still shows to be seen- and also since there is less overall work for us dancers- if you are looking for private classes- then there are many of us here and eager to teach!

-) Hotels are empty- so look out for great price deals both on accomaodation here and also on flights! (don't forget my Hotlel Bellylorna for visiting dancers! !!)

-) Still not sure? think about it as killing 2 birds with one stone.... YOU get the holiday of a lifetime... and experience our new egypt while people are still eager to talk about what happened and is happening in the revolution and YOU also get the benefit of know you have helped Egypt get back onto its feet economically and make the locals smile!

come over and Enjoy Cairo!!! It's a great place to be.... !!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Reasons for being....

Seemingly it was 30degrees here in Cairo today... maybe thats why i just felt urged to do something i really dont do enough of... i got my bikini on, shut the balcony curtains off to one side (to block out the flats opposite) and sunbathed all afternoon! It was BLISS. I feel relaxed and alive again. With all the recent going ons in Cairo, and the massively reduced work load (and therefore income) i have been having to question whether Cairo is really the place for me or not. A day in the sun, in mid March, reconfirmed one of the many things i love about this city!!!!

My guests, 3 dancers from UK, left this afternoon. It's been lovely having them here. Fun moments have included going to a cabaret club that was open from 8pm so we could go and still be home before curfew and was owned by an ex dancer nicknamed Tuna who is quite frankly NUTS.

Also having the girls come to see my show and for a rare change me actually feeling like I had performed well- I tend to beat myself up a lot about my dancing, so that was a really nice change and afterwards 2 of us went on to the Cairo Jazz Club where they had a boogie night (also starting and finishing before curfew) and dancing crazily to everything from michael jackson to duran duran to will smith to cameo! It was relive the 80's night (wasn't billed as that- but totally was that and was amazing fun!).

The girls had some private classes too while they were here. They went over one morning to Yasmina's and had a class with her. Then the Next day Sara Farouk came over and gave them a couple of hours, and then a class with me the next day. I love having a studio in the house to be able to dance and teach when ever the mood takes and also to be able to host other teachers...The class was fun too- talented girls made it a joy!

We went to watch the beautiful Sabriya perform too. She was just lovely! I didn't know what style to expect since she has learned mostly in the USA, is turkish/swedish and has worked mainly throughout the middle east, Tunisia to Dubai to Syria etc etc . It wasn't particularly Egyptian style- but it was a VERY good show with 4 costume changes, lots of lovely moves and best thing was her very relaxed and comfortable way of interacting with her audience. We all liked it a lot!!!

They did even more than that in their 4 days with me... but i had to rest up one evening with a bad cold and tummy... but thats when i managed to get my apartments pics online- so the time wasn't wasted!

Oh, and then there was the costume fitting at midnight!!!! So much for curfew... since they were flying this morning the costume maker came to my house and spent 2 hours here doing final fittings and alterations to them in my dance studio! With a vanilla cola afterwards it was a much more relaxed way of doing the costume fitting than going to the shop to do it!!!

YES- there are LOTS of reason why I love this city and all the things you can do in it- even with a curfew.
I think I'll be staying..........!!! (Inshallah!)

If you'd like to come to Cairo and enjoy it the way I do, why not stay with me at the 'Hotel BellyLorna' !!! I've uploaded a lot of photos of the place onto facebook ... have a look and book soon for a memorable holiday!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Feedback for Hotel BellyLorna, aka Fundoq el Fananeen, aka, my guest house in Cairo!

Here's some of the feedback i have had from some of my previous guests who decided to make my home their base for their Cairo adventures.... Dancers and non-dancers; they all enjoyed it... and i am looking forward to welcoming you here too!

When it came to choosing somewhere to stay for my very first visit to Cairo, it was the natural choice to take the opportunity to stay with Lorna herself and experience first hand the way of life I have been reading about for so long. The end result was a holiday that lived up to every expectation. With Lorna’s help we had one of the best introductions to Cairo that anyone can have.

-Susanna, Habiba Dance [] UK

I was just remembering the last time Rose and I stayed with you in your lovely flat in Mohandiseen. You really have a prime situation for visitors - so convenient for everything especially for the 'shop 'til you drop' brigade! We were glad you were able to guide us around the restaurants and clubs too and help us choose costumes from the dance dress designers. I do love dressing up and a trip to Cairo always inspires me. Rose is in Canada just now but when she returns in April it would be good to make a trip to the capital and visit with you again. If you have space of course. Then we can get all dressed up and sail down the Nile again on the Golden/Nile Pharaoh while you entrance us with some beautiful dancing.
-Sarannah UK+Egypt

We stayed with Lorna for a week in October and have such happy memories of a wonderful holiday due to Lorna's kindness and knowledge of Cairo. She couldn't have been a kinder or more thoughtful hostess and her love of the city and enthusiasm for the culture of Egypt certainly had a huge influence on our own experience. Nothing was too much trouble and she made it effortless for us to visit the obvious attractions as well as showing us what her life in Cairo was like. We had such fun at the beauty parlour and in a shisha cafe. Her flat was calm and tranquil after the bustle of the city, with views across the rooftops of Cairo from the balcony. The greatest generosity was to give us a dance lesson!! Not the most naturally gifted belly dancers, Lorna showed such patience and was so encouraging as we struggled with camels, figure of eights and hip drops and then [the really hard part] putting all the moves together. We loved going on the evening cruise boat on the Nile and felt so proud of Lorna as she danced. Everything about our holiday still seems very vivid and I know that due to Lorna's friendship, generosity, advice, kindness and willingness to share her knowledge and experience of a fascinating city we had a holiday of a lifetime.

-Gilly and Cathy UK

Lorna Gow's flat in Cairo is beautifully decorated, has a lovely balcony, and is so near to everything a tourist new to Cairo would want. As an established British bellydancer in Cairo, she is obviously a mine of information about things to do and people to meet. She can do private or small group lessons in her flat, which has large mirrors for observing each other whilst improving. She can therefore advise on cheap, mid range and luxury or unusual bellydance items available to purchase there. She pretty much speaks fluent Arabic, and understands the Egyptian way and Muslim faith. If she doesn't know something, then she'll find out for you. Staying at her flat is therefore a bargain, as you can kill a few birds with one stone there.

-Dr Penny Walters,, 17.02.11 UK

As soon as Lorna opened the door, I felt at home - the Edinburgh accent, the beautiful, spacious flat with parquet floors throughout, the warm and friendly atmosphere... Soon I found myself drink in hand chatting to the other house guests in the living room, and later that night we hit the town and stayed out until the early morning hours. Lorna introduced me to Cairo - and I ended up living one year in this magic and romantic city.

-Christine Sweden

This was my fourth trip to Cairo and I loved staying in the fundoq el fananeen! The Mena House & Pyramisa hotels were beautiful but nothing beats living with the people. The apartment was spacious and comfortable and incredibly affordable. I loved waking up in the morning and having a glass of tea on the balcony overlooking life on the street, below. I look forward to staying there again!

-Tahma USA

Staying with Lorna is the best experience any traveller can have, especially a female one! Lorna's apartment is large, well lit and welcoming. The hostess herself will explain everything you need to know to have a local experience in this vibrant exotic city. It does not feel like being tourist but rather a resident with all sights and attractions a short, inexpensive taxi ride away.

-Anna Skibinsky USA

I stayed a week at Lorna's gorgeous apartment, which is a haven of peace in the hustle and bustle of Cairo. I particularly enjoyed sitting on the balcony, reading and writing, and letting my legs get some sunshine! The apartment itself is big and beautiful, stylish and comfortable. Lorna is a great hostess and provides lovely big cosy towels, which I thought was a nice touch. I'd definitely stay there again as it's a great way to experience Cairo and get some insight into the dance scene in the city, through Lorna. If you’re lucky you can also get a lesson with her in her studio as well!
-Nadia UK

A couple of years ago I spent an amazing Christmas holidaying in Cairo. Together with a dear girl-friend, we stayed at the fundoq el fananeen and enjoyed Lorna’s great hospitality. Seeing Cairo with all its treasures was truly amazing, but what made the holiday even more special was the opportunity to live in the middle of the city, in a lovely flat and experiencing Cairo from the inside, as Lorna shared her life with us whilst we were there.

Unlike other tourists, my friend and I got the inside experience of Cairo; meeting Egyptians from different parts of the society as well as other internationals living in Cairo. Learning about the way of life, the culture, the good and part parts from individual points of view as we simply got to know new people living there. My friend and I got to see the city and their way of life there in a way only made possible through Lorna. She showed us sights and places both on and off the beaten track. A boat trip along the Nile, up-market and not-so-up-market market belly dancing shows, meeting a family so poor that they lived in the cemetery, long walks in different parts of the city, the market, great parties in Lorna’s and some of her friends’ homes, are just few of the treasured memories I have. Lorna was also helpful in getting us guides and drivers to also see the most famous sights such as the pyramids and even a trip to Alexandria.

My trip to Egypt was simply the best holiday and I can truly recommend a trip to Cairo and the hospitality of Lorna at the fundoq el fananeen.

– Catherine Mula Norway

Thursday, March 10, 2011

from UK to Cairo

Sitting at the gate, waiting to board the plane back to Cairo.
Mixed feelings.
Usually when I am in UK, although I really enjoy my time and love meeting up with friends and family, I also have a contentment at the idea that I will go back to my ‘normal’ life in Cairo shortly.
This time I am actually concerned as to how I will find my beloved adopted city and in particular the work situation. If there are no tourists then the boats run on a very restricted schedule, so I will be lucky to be performing 2 shows a week. Not enough to live off, and if that’s bad for me, then I feel for the people who work for me, the musicians and others too.
I had been feeling positive about everything that Egypt has been going through. The people had proved themselves to be strong and brave and commendable. Many died for the right to speak their mind, to choose how they wanted to be governed. Then last night I read an article written by a good friend about the disgraceful way in which a large number of men yesterday greeted women’s protests for equality in the country. I know of course that this is not from all men... but unfortunately these attitudes belong to the majority.
How can a country develop and grow when half its population are insulted, attacked and ridiculed by the other half when they ask for their voice to be heard?
As I say.. usually going back home to Cairo is a return to normality for me. Right this moment I feel happy to be going to see my friends there and to return to work, but nervous about what we will face in the country politically over the next months especially and how tourism, and therefore all of us who work in it, will continue to struggle.
That said......boarding now...... Cairo here I come, ready or not....!