Friday, March 31, 2017

Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is an artificial waterway in Egypt constructed in the mid 1800's which links the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea via the Isthmus of Suez. It is about 100 miles long. Once opened, it saved ships a 4,300 mile journey to get around from the Southern Indian or South Atlantic Oceans. 

About 100 ships transit the Canal every day. This is about double what it was until it was widened in 2016 in two places which allowed a greater ability for ships to pass one another while going in opposite directions. 

Unlike the Panama Canal, the Suez has no system of locks. It's just a big old canal dig out of the sandy soil and silt. There were ancient canals built to facilitate east and west travel between the Nile and the Red Sea, but nothing substantial running north and south, although remnants of some ancient waterways were found and noted by historians as far back as 270 BC. 

Yesterday afternoon we arrived at the mouth of the Canal at the southern end. We anchored and waited to be boarded by officials to be cleared for transit and assigned  a place in line. Ships go through as convoys and you need to be lined up and ready to go by sunrise. 

We started at sunrise and we were third in line. In front of us was  another cruise ship followed by a massive car transport ship. Each ship is spaced about 1/2 mile apart from one another.  

It is mid afternoon now - about 3:00 PM and we are just exiting using the right fork of the newest part of the Canal. 

I've really enjoyed this first time passage through this marvelous Canal. Yet another highlight and another item checked off the proverbial bucket list. 

Tomorrow is a day at sea and then we have 6 straight port days - all in various parts of Greece!


One of the new seven wonders of the world, Petra is also classified as a World Heritage Site. It is one of the major tourist attraction in the country of Jordan, where we have docked for two days. For me, A chance to visit Petra was an important factor in my decision to take this particular world cruise. One of my big bucket list items. 

Petra is more than two thousand years old, first built by the Nabataean empire and which prospered through trade in frankincense, myrrh and other spices. 

The Romans seized it and it continued to thrive until it was nearly destroyed in an earthquake in 356 AD which eventually led to its downfall and desertion in the 7th century. It was lost to all except the local Bedouin until the early 1800's when a Swiss explorer set out to rediscover Petra and, dressed up as an Arab, convinced his Bedouin guide to take him to the lost city. 

Bada Bing. 

Petra is known as the rose red city, for the color of the rock from which it was carved. Besides being a thriving little city, Petra is also a large mausoleum, as the Nabataeans buried their dead in intricate tombs that were cut out of the mountainsides. 

To walk Petra, you'll need several hours, as there is much to see along this nearly 3-mile one way trek from start to the end of the main trail. The trail in is a slight incline downhill which meant that the walk back was all slightly uphill. It was a good walk. Every time you rounded a slight bend or turned a corner, you found yourself looking at some new marvel - a bright green leafed tree sticking out of the rock, cave-ish looking holes set into the rock yards above your head, which reminded you that this is really one big tomb city. 

Narrow crevices letting in rays of sun. Carved out waterways to divert the water so the main street wouldn't flood during the infrequent rains. The beautifully preserved Treasury building, where it is believed to hold the remains of one of the early Nabataean kings. 

I can see why this is on the wonders hit parade. Such a beautiful and sacred place. I'm so glad I got to see this. 

I also included a few more pictures of our day in Wadi Rum yesterday. Our group did some photo swapping by air drop in the morning and I really liked some of the arch climb photos as well as the ones of me on my camel. 

There's also the view of Petra from high above with the Negev in the far distance. 

The sunset picture is from the hotel terrace. 

The picture of the rectangular water hole is said to be Moses' spring. It is the place where he hit the rock in frustration and anger and then water spewed forth. Today you can go in there and dip your hands in as well as fill your water bottles. 

First views down and across to Petra, and the Negev way beyond. 

Sunset behind the local mosque. 

The original paver stones road. 

This is Moses' spring. It is said to be the place where he hit the rock in frustration and anger and then water spewed forth. Today you can go in there and dip your hands in as well as fill your water bottles.