On the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel

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newcastle
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On the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel

Post by newcastle » Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:08 pm

On my recent visit to Luxor I purchased this book...worth every piastre of 400EGP.

For anyone who has been to Egypt or has dreamed of going there, the book is an excellent read. From the mid-19th century to the end of the 20th, Andrew Humphreys narrates the exotic history of Nile travel, inseparable from the colonialism of the times. It puts the Nile steamers and grand hotels of Cairo and Upper Egypt into a historical and social context which is informative and extremely entertaining.

The photos and illustrations are exemplary.

The book is largely a history of Thomas Cook & Son's Nile-based tourism business of which they had more of less a monopoly until the end of he 19th century. It covers the fortunes of the company from its association with the opening of the Suez Canal, through the exploits of the failed expedition to save Gordon of Khartoum, the hiatus of WWI, the excitement of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun and the eventual sale of the business ....fortuitously just ahead of the Great Depression which severely affected its american clientele.

Not that the story ends there.

It covers the move from the dahabiya travel favoured by the elite to more egalitarian steamers.....and back in recent years. Cook's steamers were largely put out of action after being commandeered during WWI. It was interesting to read of the snobbery associated with the dahabiya form of transport, even though it must have been more irksome to rely on wind and muscle power.

Agatha Christie pops up and the book gives some interesting background to her novel Death on the Nile.

Above all, it records an Egypt sadly past...although the Sudan, the last of Cook's steamers, has been renovated by its new owners and is now sailing the Nile with the same elegance and comfort of former years. At a substantial price I might add!



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Re: On the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel

Post by Winged Isis » Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:31 pm

Thanks, that sounds like a great read. Good news about the Sudan
Carpe diem! :le:

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Re: On the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel

Post by newcastle » Sat Dec 16, 2017 7:53 pm

BY coincidence, I came across this article about the SS Karim which has just celebrated its 100th anniversary. Being the private property of the royal family, until seized by the government in 1952, it doesn't feature in the book but, having passed into private hands and been refurbished, it now sails between Luxor & Aswan.

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The SS Karim Nile Paddle Steamer celebrates its first centennial. Together with the SS Sudan they are the oldest paddle boats who are still operating during Nile Cruise services

The SS Karim built in 1917, is the world's last operational stern quarter-wheeler. She is one of a series of familiar vessels designed by the Lytham Shipbuilding and Engineering Co on the Fylde coast in Lancashire in Scotland, This historic vessel was originally used by King Fuad I of Egypt and then by his son King Farouk. After the Egyptian revolution, the SS Karim was used by the state and hosted President Gamal Abd El Nasser and later on President Anwar Al Sadat and his wife Jihan. Still powered by its original 1917 steam engine and stern quarter wheel paddles, the S/S Karim today combines the comfort of the modern era with the grandeur of the bygone past.

In 1991, she was fully restored as a luxury cruise vessel carrying a maximum of 28 passengers in 14 en-suite cabins and was again refurbished in 2009.

The SS Karim is the oldest, slowest, and smallest of the fleet of over three hundred passenger cruise ships that take tourists up and down the River Nile between Luxor and Aswan. She is also the most elegant, most fascinating and certainly the most fun.

The boat is decorated in a period style with many subtle reminders of her distinguished past. The restaurant serves a splendid selection of both - international and Egyptian cuisine with buffet and waiter service. With 32 covers, this elegant room allows for dining in one sitting and provides an intimate setting for dinner parties on board. The lounge bar offers a full international bar service, a library with a collection of books dating back to 1849, as well as a dance floor and music system.

Outside, the lower sun terrace provides a shaded area with elegant tables and chairs as well as deck bar service. The upper deck has sun loungers, a Jacuzzi pool and is home for the ship's steam funnel with original ship’s steam whistle. The reception area has colorful stained glass windows through to the restaurant and the reception provides full services including an international telephone.

Traveling on such small, historic ships costs more than taking a traditional cruise. But for an increasing number of discerning voyagers, the charm of these vintage vessels is worth the additional cost. According to Nancy Herbert of the New York-based agency, Roberta Sonnino Travel, "clients often prefer them to the gigantic cruise ships, which can feel like nothing more than interchangeable floating hotels."

I think it is, or was, chartered exclusively by Voyages Jules Verne.

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Re: On the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel

Post by Horus » Sat Dec 16, 2017 8:49 pm

Very interesting :up
That part should have read “She is one of a series of familiar vessels designed by the Lytham Shipbuilding & Engineering Co on the Fylde coast in Lancashire and built in Glasgow Scotland”
The Lytham Shipbuilding and Engineering Co were famous for building shallow draft boats and the Karim is of a type originally designed to be used on the rivers Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq by the British Army, it is believed that six of these were sent to Egypt instead and the SS Karim was one of them.
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Re: On the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel

Post by newcastle » Sun Dec 17, 2017 5:04 am

Horus wrote:Very interesting :up
That part should have read “She is one of a series of familiar vessels designed by the Lytham Shipbuilding & Engineering Co on the Fylde coast in Lancashire and built in Glasgow Scotland”
The Lytham Shipbuilding and Engineering Co were famous for building shallow draft boats and the Karim is of a type originally designed to be used on the rivers Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq by the British Army, it is believed that six of these were sent to Egypt instead and the SS Karim was one of them.
Well spotted! I did alter a few spelling mistakes after I'd cut & pasted the article...but didn't notice the missing words.

Or maybe it's a genuine misunderstanding by the Egyptian author of the geography of Britain :lol:

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Re: On the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel

Post by Horus » Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:24 am

:lol: :lol: The clue was when the article put the Fylde coast and Lancashire in Scotland. ;)
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Re: On the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel

Post by BBLUX » Mon Dec 18, 2017 4:59 pm

We always look out for the Sudan on our morning walks. Also, when crossing the Nile with our regular boatman, Azab, he makes a point of looking for her so we can motor past at close distance because he likes her.
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