Hidden Treasures: The Beauty of a Place Called Port Said

Joel Carillet's picture

It is possible that Port Said, when one arrives here from the immense crowds, noise, and pollution of Cairo, seems better than it really is. Stepping off the bus and working your way to the hotel, you are struck by the fresh Mediterranean breeze, the uncongested streets, the beautiful architecture. Even the people seem different -- more laid back and less pushy, themselves rather pleased to be in this peaceful town at the northern end the Suez Canal.

You suspect, however, that no matter where you are arriving from, Port Said is a special place.

Even stuffed animals hanging from rearview mirrors are happy about being in Port Said.

And so are cruise ships; when they see Port Said from sea, they decide to stop a while and let their people stroll through town.

A stroll through town may lead you to the outside of the town's most famous landmark, the Suez Canal House, where a naval officer may stop to chat a moment and tell you a story which, well, shouldn't really be mentioned in a public forum. But suffice it to say that it will be one of the prominent memories of your time in Port Said.

Strolling along the waterfront will take you past the occasional flirting couple, who are certainly happy in this moment to be away from the crowds of Cairo (three hours away by bus). If I were Egyptian, I would definitely like to flirt in Port Said.

Strolling a bit further you will pass chain-smoking men in coffee shops who, by and large, will allow you to photograph them.

You will also find many who will insist on buying your drink -- "Tea or coffee?" they will ask. These two men, Saad and Saad, were preparing to go to work. Their job: disposing of the garbage that the cruise ships bring in.

If you tire of strolling (and you will), you can board a ferry that makes the 4-5 minute crossing of the canal. Here you can gaze at ships making their canal passage, and you can do it for free since the ferry charges nothing. Some people sit on the ferry for hours, going back and forth, back and forth, for free, soaking in the breeze and beauty.

Passengers on the ferry.

With time you will have to leave Port Said, and you may not be particularly happy about this since it is the kind of place conducive to writing and reflection, to decompressing from the stress of desert heat and megacity madness. But go you must. And Port Said, being the great place it is, will wish you a happy trip, leaving you to smile one more time as you say goodbye.


Joel Carillet, chief editor of Wandering Educators, is a freelance writer and photographer based in Tennessee. He is the author of 30 Reasons to Travel: Photographs and Reflections from Southeast Asia. To learn more about him, follow his regular photoblog, or purchase prints, visit www.joelcarillet.com.


Note: This article was originally published in 2010 and updated in 2018



Comments (1)

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    9 years 1 month ago

    joel - i love this. your photos and tales are just amazing. thank you for sharing such a refreshing time!


    Jessie Voigts, PhD

    Publisher, wanderingeducators.com

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