Shades of Kipling!   We passed through the Suez Canal, that greatest of waterways, on a sunny June day in 2008.   Soft breezes, sands & the occasional camel along the bankside.   Sometimes, robed Egyptians watched, stared, sometimes waved.   In this view, we are looking south, from the aft end of the Crystal Symphony.   The northbound "convoy," through the Canal and mostly of mighty containerships,  has formed.


Blowing Sands

Celebrating Over 50 Years of Travel, Travel by Ship & Travel Photography
     The Soviets had an Arctic settlement called Barentzburg, used for coal, weather predicting & rather expectedly some deeply concealed military tracking.   It was also bleak, all but forbidding, even sinister in ways:  chilly, gusty winds and the feel of frost even in high summer.  It was also the domain of suspicious, clawed Terns. 
     But by the time we visited in August 1979, aboard a Norwegian mail & supply boat, the Harald Jarl, Soviet miners and those "technicians" had long since departed. We were delivering the main, food & other supplies to the few Norwegians that now inhabited the place.  But overall,  the place was still all but desolate, silent, in deep abandonement.  You could "hear" the chilly silence. 
     In this view, there are the derelict tracks for the gondola train cars that made the relays with coal from the mountainside mines to ships waiting in the small harbor below.  Soviet propaganda, in much faded red letters, was still spelled across the stones,  urging something like "hard work for the state".   But the steely-eyed Terns watched me intently as I took this picture, waiting to "attack" if I disturbed their summer nestings along the otherwise very narrow roadside.   They would swoop, like Kamikaze pilots, with extended fangs just 2 to 3 feet above the head of any intruder who ventured too close. 
     Soviet Outpost
Celebrating Over 50 Years of Travel, Travel by Ship & Travel Photography:
     A fierce, sudden, but flash sand storm was approching, at 10 in the morning, at the ancient ruins at Luxor in Egypt, when I snapped this photo.  The sands swirled madly, visibility dropped-off quickly and the sand snapped at your skin like little pin-pricks.   I remember we all closed our eyes, covered our mouths & stood still and waited.  But actually, we were somewhat experienced:  We'd already had a greater, more furious sand storm as our ship passed through the Suez Canal and one which caused our small cruise ship to briefly go aground.   
     We'd gotten up at 3:30, breakfast at 4 & then left the ship at Safaga by 4:30.  Yes, it was my earliest excursion ever.   We traveled by bus for well over 2 hours on a very desolate, almost lunar-like highway, and then reached Luxor & Karnak by 7.  There was a 3-hr visit, as I recall and which included the Valley of the Kings and Tutankamen's tomb, but then quickly back to the waiting ship by 1.  Purposely, we were avoiding the intense, mid afternoon heat of lower Egypt. 
The date is February 1979.

Celebrating Over 50 Years of Travel, Travel by Ship & Travel Photography:
     The clustered umbrellas at a beach near Amalfi in Italy.  
     There's something about "summer in the Med," as many call it -- those deep blue waters, endless stretches of sandy beaches, distant chatter & laughter and, of course, the faint smells of suntan oils & cremes.  It is all very casual:  lunch in umbrella-lined cafes, those crowded, over-stocked souvenir shops, strolling young lovers with tightly locked hands & arms.  For me, the sun seems stronger, deeper, even more yellow in the Med. 
     Yes, most of all, Italy  in high summer.  It is not quite the same, at least as I remember, in Spain or Greece, the French Riviera or even remote Albania.   I suppose it is also something to do with those highly stylized Hollywood films of the '50s & '60s -- that Italian romantic quality.  Neatly organized rows of colorful umbrellas line the shore as sleek, alluring yachts patiently wait at anchor and all while the ever-present church bells faintly sound from somewhere in the background.    
     It is a typically warm afternoon;  the date is August 1981.  I was visiting on a P&O cruise, aboard the Canberra.
 Umbrellas at the Beach

Celebrating Over 50 Years of Travel, Travel by Ship & Travel Photography:
When we visited Zululand in South Africa in the spring of 1997, one of our stops was to a rural village well away from metropolitan Durban.   There we met Chief Joseph -- wonderfully friendly, richly handsome, a big man and altogether draped in tiger skins & feathers.  I noticed a chunky gold Rolex as well (but then he owned vast amounts of nearby farmland, which grew coffee).   He introduced his 18 wives, the eldest of which was the most senior & a sort of "band leader".   She directed (as well as made the nightly arrangements) for the other 17.  We also met some of his 45 children including some of his daughters.  They helped serve lunch as wet sat around the main huts -- we rested on bulky carved logs and ate cabbage leaves served on polished wooded slabs.  Chief Joseph smiled.

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