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Pole to Pole

Day 52: Port Said

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleMy alarm sounds at 4.30. By five o'clock I'm packed, shaved, showered and off to the bridge for a first sight of Africa. My watchstrap breaks and I pray it isn't going to be that sort of day. The moon is still the only light in the sky, but way ahead on our starboard side is a tall flashing beacon and a long row of orange and white lights which must be Port Said. Below us a line of red and green flashing marker buoys indicates the mouth of the Suez Canal. As we pass another cruise ship - the Romantica, also from Limassol - one of her tugs breaks away and comes to manoeuvre us into position a little way out from the palm-fringed waterfront.

The first light of day breaks in the sky behind us. It's as if a veil has been lifted from the city and the dark, unfamiliar outlines resolve into handsome old colonial houses, with tall louvred doorways opening onto wrought-iron balconies, an elegant, arcaded Canal House, with its mosaic-covered dome and a fine lighthouse of yellow brick.

Port Said is not a major port of entry for passenger ships, most of which use Alexandria. This may partly explain why Louis Lines, who operate the Princesa Marissa, can keep their costs down, and why there appears to be no means of getting from the boat to the shore.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 52
  • Country/sea: Egypt
  • Place: Port Said
  • Book page no: 115

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