NILE BLOG 05
Thursday 4 October, 2012
As we were waking up this morning, on this our second day in Egypt, the Prinsendam was manoeuvring gently alongside the cruise terminal in Port Said, at the northern end of the Suez Canal. And, from our up-high vantage points in our cabins or out on deck, we watched a colourful tangle of fishing boats jostling for mooring-space in the harbour below … and ate breakfast to the accompaniment of muezzin calling faithful Muslims to prayer over loud-speakers installed in the tops of nearby minarets
We spent yesterday, of course, in Alexandria – Egypt’s second largest city, founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great. These days, nine million people live cheek-to-jowl in that tired, untidy, overflowing metropolis … and watching the teaming masses go about their daily business was an education, to say the least!
We Kiwis climbed aboard two coaches in the afternoon (along with armed guards) for an overview drive through the civic centre, the main square and the bazaar. We motored along the cornice (waterfront) to the eastern harbour, with a toilet-stop at the impressive Salamlek Hotel (built by Khedive Abbas II for his Austrian mistress) … and photo-stops at the Montazah Palace & Gardens (built by Abbas as the summer home for Egypt’s royal family), the Abu al-Abbas Mursi Mosque (a superb example of modern Islamic architecture), the Fort of Qait Bay (built on the ruins of the Faros Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), and Alexandria’s massive new library (built with help from UNESCO).
But yesterday’s highlights were actually (i) a rush-hour (literally) traffic-jam, which saw us all waving to friendly locals and going nuts with our cameras … and (ii) the extended conversations we had on both coaches with the highly-educated, well-informed, and surprisingly-frank young ladies who were our tour guides for the afternoon. About what? Oh, about Muslim customs, Egyptian politics, the recent changes that have shaken this ancient nation, and lots more. Fascinating? You bet!
Then today? Well, Port Said (pronounced ‘side’, not ‘sed’) was founded in 1859 at the start of the Suez Canal excavations – and, by the late 19th-century, had become a bustling port (synonymous with hashish-smuggling and crime) where all the major maritime powers had consulates. It took a beating during the Suez Crisis and two wars (1967 and 1973) with Israel. Nowadays, however, this hyperactive, ramshackle city of half-a-million people earns its living as an important harbour: both for Egyptian exports (like cotton and rice), and also as a fuelling station for the 20,000+ ships that pass through the Suez each year.
Port Said is a popular kick-off point for tours to Cairo, the pyramids, etc – but we Kiwis are returning to Egypt later to do all that in style. So we just took it easy, watching all the comings-&-goings, wandering the town, rubbing shoulders with locals, enjoying horse-&-buggy rides past mosques, markets and landmarks, and sitting out the afternoon heat in the Prinsendam’s air-conditioned restaurants or around the pool.
This is a tough life, I tell you, and I don’t know how much longer we can keep it up …
Have you ever noticed how some couples, the longer they’re together, start looking more and more the same? Well, that must have happened to today’s nominee for a quacky-duck award:
- Goodness knows how, but Peter managed to get off – and back on – the ship today using his wife’s photo-ID card. Must’ve been his new lipstick, we think. But for that little bit of trickery Peter earns the Mad Midlife ‘Sex Change Award’. A round of applause for Peter …
- There are numerous lectures, classes, workshops, etc that passengers can attend on this ship. And some of us have been learning Creative Photo Editing with Windows Live. The panorama shots included here are by Rodger Grant (Alexandria) and yours truly (Port Said). Aren’t we clever?
Oh boy! Another big day … another ancient culture … and another bunch of unforgettable memories! Ashdod, with its seaside promenade, is Israel’s largest port – and serves as a gateway to Jerusalem and nearby Bethlehem. (You’re green with envy, eh?)
Yours bloggedly – JOHN
P.S. If you want to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this page, and add your ‘COMMENTS’! Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief.
Hi.. We are so enjoying all the news… Thinking of Carole and Norman and wishing we were with you all, from Hilary and Alec x x
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2012 06:06:23 +0000 To: [email protected]
Hi Nanny and Grandad,
Sounds like you are having a great trip. We went to Omokoroa last week. We went with our friends Samantha, Grace, Keely and Caitlyn. We had a great time. We went to the beach and saw a dead seal. Grace poked it with a stick, yuuk. Thank you for letting us stay there.
I got a distinction for my ballet exam. Madeleine got her first certificate for being ready to learn. Do you know what? Last week, Mummy had to call the fire brigade to our house. Jessica locked herself in the spare room upstairs. Two fire engines with flashing lights and ten firemen came to get Jessica out. They had to break the door, but Jesscia is ok.
We miss you, lots of love
Emilie, Madeleine and Jessica xoxoxo
Hi to Sheryl Robinson…following the blog…amazing!! My thoughts were with you on Monday. Hope you had a wonderful birthday!! Lots of love Dianne McClay
Hi Pam Strong – Love the blogs and love the photos too – is that John enjoying a horse and buggy ride? You must be having a wonderful time with such wonderful company. Hi to Alison too.
Love The Carmody’s
Hi – for Norman & Carole Taylor….WE ARE SO JEALOUS! Just keep enjoying it. Thinking of you. Love Sis and David x
For Malcolm and Carol Frith
Hi Mum and Dad (Malcolm and Carol Frith), glad you’re having a great time – the weather is wintery here, so you’re not missing out at all! School holidays have just ended for us (diff to public Schools).
Joe (who wants to be known as Joseph now) sends love as does Emma. I don’t think you really want to know that she’s got headlice – but they want you to know they were Zookeepers for a Day at Butterfly Creek and Emma looked after the Guinea Pigs and both held the Alligator!
All good here, Kevin working flat tack, but keeping well.
Joe – OK Joseph!! His eye has started to drift a bit again outwards, so we see the Specialist on 30th October to see what needs to be done.
Oh and he got in to Elim to next year!! No room for Emma, but she’s top of the list and if someone leaves at the end of the year – well that would be a God send for us.
Take care, praying for you – keep having a blast.
Done any Camel riding yet?
Love Kevin, Karen and the kids and the Guinea Pigs
Sorry my comment wasn’t brief…I didn’t have my glasses on!!!
Hi Nana and Poppa (Peter and Edna)…we miss you guys so much. Was that our Poppa who won the award for using Nana’s id card….sounds just like him ha ha. Miss you guys xoxo
Hi Mum (Mary Burkhardt),
Thanks for reminding me about the blog, great to catch up on all the adventures, not for the faint hearted, it sounds full on but I know you’ll be loving it! No news as such from home, just running, all weekends planned until your return, Chch Labour weekend, no progress on house front, best wait for your input, miss you lots, but am enjoying contemplating your progress – nice cruise and lots of wonderful Mediterranean stops ahead. Lots of love Lara.
Hi Martin and Jenny,looks like you are having a great time,all well for us back home,been busy with the grandies,Love G&E
Dear John & Robyn, Thinking of you both a big smoochy kiss for Robyn and a man hug for John Oh all right a man kiss for John too! Trust you are coping OK our arms are around you. Denis & Bev.
Would like to make a quick shout out to my mother Vijaya! Could you tell her to stop hiding away in all the group photo’s? I’m beginning to wonder if she even made it on the tour! Also it is her birthday on the 10th, so please make a big commotion (as she will love this 😉 ). For the last 19 year, she keeps assuring me that she is 21 years old, so I’m going to guess that it’ll be the same again this year!! Happy Birthday and much love!! Hope your having a great time! Sammy. xo
To Annette Hattie,
Hi Annette, the trip sounds fabulous. Been watching the blog and it doesn’t seem that John’s give you an award yet!!! Hope you’re enjoyed Israel – make up for all you missed last time. Please make sure to get a photo of yourself at Petra. Called in today to see Thelma but she had gone out for a drive Sandra said so will call again. All well here, Miss you and keep well. Love Edgar and Judy.