It might not be as old as the pyramids, but the Suez Canal is just as unique.
From ancient times, people dreamed of a water passage between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. But it wasn’t until the mid 1800’s that the dream became a reality thanks to Ferdinard de Lesseps who had not only the vision but also the determination to get the Suez canal built.
These days, the Suez Canal is one of the busiest shipping route in the world, with three convoys of ships passing through each day. Each convoy usually consists of up to 20 ships, ranging from colourful freighters to sleek yachts and the occasional cruise ship.
The day that the our cruise ship journeyed along the Suez Canal, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the passengers were buzzing. After all, this was the closest we had been to land in seven days.
With Egypt on the left and Sinai on the right, there was plenty to see.
As expected, the Egyptian side was not only more developed, it was also greener (thanks to irrigation systems provided by the Nile Valley region).
We could see houses and gardens along the banks, apartments, schools, and mosques in the background, giving a real sense of community.
Half way up the Suez Canal, in the busy city of Ismalia, there are large waterfront resorts where Egyptians come to vacation. Of course, there are also plenty of strategically placed military bases and watchtowers housing armed soldiers monitoring the area.
In the Sinai, however, there is less signs of community life. Predominantly sand dunes and desert, there are no houses or apartments to be seen, only military bases and watchtowers interspersed with the occasional mosque.
As the crew steered the Dawn Princess slowly up the canal, it’s passengers sat, watched, and waved at the soldiers in the watchtowers who happily waved back.
And so it went on, for most of the day, until the ship arrived at its destination of Port Said at the northern end of the Suez Canal late in the afternoon.
On arrival, the wharf was empty but in the time it took for the ship to be securely anchored to the dock and the gangways dropped, the wharf had filled with vendors looking to sell everything from sunglasses to model pharaohs to passengers.
(photo credit: Liz Lewis)