Saturday, October 13, 2012


Tempus fugit as they say  and in my view, with much truth.

 I recall vividly student travels to  Turkey (a couple of times  from c.1969 to 73 by boat and train) and being caught in a riot with people violently protesting against the US 6th fleet and the then war in Vietnam.   Later there was   a visit  to Egypt when one war or other broke out. Travel to Turkey  at about that period when  going to Istanbul meant by train and boat  from London Victoria   via Munich for 2 or  3 days with an ancient  smokey steam train taking the last few miles to  Sirkeci station. During such a trip one of the world's final epidemics of small pox broke out and resulted in compulsory vaccinations at departure ports (with reused needles as there was no HIV etc then) and   fleeing  by boat to Cyprus thence by another boat  to  Egypt's Port Alexandra.

All that seems quite recent but  in fact  tempus fugit  applies as is  apparent from the development of aircraft tourism that has taken place since then with today's students often travelling  much further around the world often but not always by air.

 I have not visited Egypt since then but believe that one of the  many differences between Europe and Egypt that have changed for the better in Egypt  in the subsequent years, despite all the  other violent sounding  news that seems to come from that part of the world recently, is the fact that in c.1969/73 I recall seeing only one tractor in my visits to that historic country and that was involved in shiploading and unloading  in Port Alexandria whereas all the way down by train from Cairo  to Thebes/Luxor I saw only donkeys being used for ploughing the land. Today I assume that cranes and tractors are relatively common.

The other development which presumably applies as much to Egypt as to many other parts of the world is the spread of hotels. In c.1970 staying in Thebes/Luxor meant  finding a place on  roof tops of local hospitable people whereas I'd guess that now,  hotels abound. Possibly one aspect of Thebes Luxor and surrounding Tombs of the Kings and Queens that applied in the early 1970s which still applies today, was the absence of other travellers caused by the wars - I recall even seeing men in the 70s travelling on the same train going  south in chains, presumably having been captured in some fighting and with their guards firing machine guns through the roof.

As  really good luck    would have it a few days after arriving at Thebes/Luxor,  we met a  young Swiss archaeologist  working locally and who had not been required to depart during the fighting. She  after taking a Dhow with us to cross the Nile  took us to visit many deserted tombs - a really memorable time. I think we also managed to find some  bikes.

We (I traveled with a very good friend from Beaumont) were then obliged to recross the Nile before sunset however as a war requirement. The fighting today is different but the affect on tourism might not be.

One of the benefits of  age or perhaps more literally of growing up , is that there  is less of an  urge to travel  - or maybe that is a personal feeling. However a possible  sudden day job need to visit  the far west of Canada next week beckons and in some ways all the old excitement  comes flooding back.

If the trip materialises then taking  a short holiday  would be ideal, in which case taking a train south to Seattle USA  along the coast  might beckon. If the trip  does take place I doubt that I will post  again until the week following.

1 comment:

  1. I hope the trip materialises, Jerry! A very good friend from Beaumont tells me that his daughter and family are leaving next week for Seattle where his son-in-law has just got a job with Microsoft.


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