Getting a beer in Alexandria is akin to finding a needle in a haystack, so being one of the few pubs or bars here, the Spitfire Bar looks empty and derelict from outside and is easy to overlook, despite it's obvious corner location in the corner of a small square on Alex's Shari Sa'ad Aghloul. Once you've stopped looking so hard, taken a step back and observed the words 'Spitfire' and 'Bar' above the twin doors, you will see what appears to be a windowless, purpose built, brick edifice with a dark interior - one of the doors seems permanently closed and partitions preventing the sun from penetrating inside.
During WWII the Nazi's were on the verge of entering Alexandria, until the Allies smashed Rommel's Panzer Divisions at nearby El Alamein and thus ending Hitler's plans for North Africa. An important asset in the Allies arsenal was the ubiquitous British Spitfire; the aircraft I assume this bar is named in honour of.
Upon entering and it's known you're western and are here for a Stella, you're presented with 2 questions:
Where am I from? There was no music on in the bar when I entered, and I assume the answer one gives decides upon the choice of music about to be played. My answer, England, is rewarded with the insertion into a cassette deck of a warped version of The Police's Invisible Sun album, which vibratos away to itself and is eventually drowned out by the Islamic call to prayer (Adhan) from a nearby mosque!
Do I wish to sit outside (where a single chair and forlorn sheesha pipe look like an Alexandria lonely hearts club)? No, I want to sit inside and write about the unbelievable quantity and low-quality tat on display!
Sitting next to a huge fish tank, seemingly empty apart from six tiny fish, the effect of placing six empty beer cans behind the tank gives the impression the fish are swimming amongst ancient beer cans - Becks, Labatts, Carlsberg, Fosters, McEwans and Boddingtons. With the beer cans sits a model galleon and a crab, which is disproportionately larger than the galleon and thus looks like a deep-sea monster about to intimidate the ship and terrify the sailors. Although, however, in this scenario, the iceberg-sized beer cans would logically be a greater threat to the ship than an oversized crustacean!
When the talkative staff drag themselves away from the ancient portable TV sitting on a table and inevitably produce the salty nuts and bottle of Stella - without a label (!) - it's time to sit back and relish the tat. The walls are covered, floor to ceiling, in all manner of junk: framed money from around the World, soft-core 'western' porn, Manchester United posters, adverts, Ipswich Town 'The Tractor Boys' stickers, an equal amount of British, Swedish and American ephemera, and that legend of 1970s vulgarity, the poster of a shitting chimpanzee sat on a lavatory!
It's obvious the Spitfire Bar is frequented by soldiers and sailors, as there's a sticker for the USS Yellowstone, which is surely a typo, as it should be USS Jellystone, named after the park where Yogi bear and Booboo reside. There is also a gung-ho 1970s US Marine Corps poster: "Since 1775" - a flyboy in front of a Phantom while a couple of hueys pass overhead. An autographed picture of 'Superlite17 - US Army Diving Team' takes pride of place amongst the excess of framed pictures of military aircraft, some with real photographs of their crew.
The diminutive toilet cubicles are in the corner of a small back room that has a red, black and blue tiled floor, some of which is missing to reveal a gorgeous, Celtic style floor underneath! Legend says that like Walt Disney, the body of the owner, who died a few years ago, was kept in a freezer next to the toilets - the Egyptian's version of cryogenic suspension? Whilst visiting the little boy's room, I searched, to no avail, for any trace of a body-sized freezer or the telltale whiff of dead bodies that may suggest he's still here!
Review by mr_psm