May 13, 2012

Interesting Ancient Egyptian Tourism Secrets

The Tourists Make Their Mark, 1902
Sir Gaston Maspero

. . . now from the middle of December to the middle of March Assuan never sleeps. It has become a winter resort, like Nice or Sorrento, and has had to transform itself to satisfy the demands of passing visitors. The embankment, formerly so picturesque, though rough and dirty, has been replaced by a regular quay, with decorations in black, adorned with palms already high and with lebakhs which will grow if Heaven pleases. The whole front is almost European in appearance, with its banks, post office, hospital, fountain, chapel, cafes, hotels, taverns, shops with glass windows and covered with advertisements. A Dalmatian photographer invites you in composite French not to buy your films anywhere except at his shop. His neighbour, a Greek tobacconist, offers you the best to be had in cigarettes and silks, all English, but if you need eau de Cologne you must go further to the Italian bookseller, who will supply you. As you pass obliging Parsees cry their cloths, printed in loud colours, and their coarse Indian silver-work. At the southern end two or three cabs of the most correct pattern await custom with resignation, at the head of a rank of numbered donkeys, and then the railway station, with its level entrance marks at the end of the esplanade.

Egyptian Tourism
Here, then, the quay ends, and the shore reappears, capricious, scattered over with all kinds of breakneck objects, bristling with heaps of broken stones, piles of wood, of barrels or of sacks, but also with booths and tents that betray a fair in which toys and popular cakes are offered for sale, where there is cooking in the open air, and even an itinerant circus under a French flag, whence a newly shorn ass’s foal and a superb white camel come forth to the tune of a polka to drink at the river.

The seventh-century monastery of St. Simeon, on the west bank of the Nile, is thought of as the finest example of an early Christian monastery in Egypt though it was later used as a fortress.

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