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Pole to Pole

Day 53: Port Said to Cairo

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleRefreshed after eight and a half hours' sleep, and tempted by the cool of early morning, I go for a run with Patti along the beach. Fishermen are examining their catch which they have hauled up in long nets. A man with a child calls out to me as I pass. My Western reflex says beware, but it turns out that he only wants to ask where I am from and to wish me welcome.

Port Said doesn't figure on Western tour itineraries and happily the seafront remains typically Egyptian, complete with a ladies' beach where Arab women bathe fully clothed. Bathe is perhaps too strong a description for what consists essentially of wading into the waves and standing there.

The Customs nightmare of yesterday may well be repeated for we have to go through another check today when we leave the free port and enter the rest of Egypt, so we decide not to delay our departure for Cairo. We drive down Palestine Street, where we came ashore yesterday, and through squares with duty-free shops at ground level and rows of washing and occasional mattresses hung out to dry above. At cafÚs men - never women, I notice - play backgammon, and every now and then there is a reminder of the proximity of the Suez Canal, with a dramatic glimpse of a 50,000-ton tanker gliding across the end of a side street.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 53
  • Country/sea: Egypt
  • Place: Port Said
  • Book page no: 116

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