Port Said, Egypt

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May 9th 2013
Published: May 12th 2013
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Thursday May 9th, 2013. Port Said, Egypt

Port Said is the main port city at the northern gateway to the Suez Canal. It was established in 1859 during the construction of the canal and has since become a thriving duty-free port and a popular resort destination for Egyptians during the summer. Port Said is twinned with the city of Port Fuad on the eastern bank of the canal and the two cities are connected by ferries that run throughout the day.

The Suez Canal, west of the Sinai peninsula, is a 101 mile (163 kilometre) maritime canal in Egypt between Suez on the Red Sea and Port Said on The Mediterranean Sea.The Canal allows north south transits for vessels travelling from Europe to Asia and vice-versa - avoiding the necessity to circumnavigate Africa. Most of the canal is limited to one way traffic, although several passing bays exist and two-lane bypasses are located in the Bitter Lakes and between Al-Qantarah and Ismalia.

Before the construction of the canal, some transport was conducted by offloading ships and carrying the goods overland between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. The canal comprises two parts, north and south of the Great Bitter Lake, linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez on the Red Sea. The canal has no locks because there is no sea level difference and no hills to climb. It allows the passage of ships of up to 150,000 tons displacement (with cargo). It permits ships with a beam of 164 feet (50 metres) and a draft of up to 72 feet (22 metres) to pass; allowing ULCC's or Ultra Large Crude Carriers passage. Previously ULCC's offloaded part of their cargo onto a canal-owned boat, in order to reduce their draft, and then reloaded at the other end of the canal.

Some 25,000 ships pass through the canal each year which is about 14% of world shipping. Guiseppe Verdi's opera masterpiece Aida, written to commemorate the opening of the Canal, was completed too late for the 1869 opening and did not premier at the Cairo Opera House until 1871.

We had a posh breakfast listening to the bird song CD again. M has asked Roy if he can get a copy of it so that we can breakfast at home to the sound of the chirping birds. We disembarked the ship and, after negotiating the tourist tat market that had sprung up on the dockside, cleared passport control. We then strolled down to the fish market which smelled revolting, past the naval HQ and onto the promenade by the beach. It was very hot and there were not many people about. The promenade was reasonably clean (by Egyptian standards). We saw the lighthouse which is the oldest building in Port Said - dating from 1869. It is considered to be a unique example of the evolution of 19th century architecture in the city (we weren't impressed). We turned left off the promenade and headed back into the city. Most of the shops were closed and we had plenty of hassle from taxis offering us trips to the Pyramids (we had decided to give this a miss as we had both been more than once before). There really was nothing much to see here. Rudyard Kipling once said that Port Said was one of only two places in the world where every traveller was bound to enjoy visiting. We wondered where the other one is and decided that we must find out - so that we can be sure to avoid it!

We had a look at the El-Abbasy Mosque which is a very imposing building built in 1904 by Abbas II of Egypt. We found a hotel that had access to WI-Fi for $2.00 U.S. an hour. We returned to the ship for lunch and then went back to the Panorama Hotel to post our blogs. We spent the afternoon lazing by the pool until 3.30 pm when we went to the quiz and won another snazzy lapel pin (a different style this time). We had a couple of happy hour G & T's and whiled away a couple of hours chatting to a group of people from Texas. No show tonight but dinner was good as usual. After dinner we watched a movie and went to bed.

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