Flying 2

December 6 2013

If you ever take the early morning BA flight from Cairo to London, get a window seat on the left (as you face forward) with a full view. On a clear day, as we had yesterday, you get impressive views of the city after take-off.

Then the Delta: mud-coloured villages, rice fields (Egyptian rice is delicious), blue strips of water.

Then Venice sparkling in the sun: the whole S of the Grand Canal. Arsenal, station, causeway. San Giorgio Maggiore, Giudecca, Lido, San Michele, Murano, Burano, Torcello.

Mestre: the dark side of the Venetian moon, which nobody dreams of entering except a few misguided tourists who are told that it is cheaper. In fact, it seems a pleasant city.

Then the most sensational view of the Alps I can remember. Half an hour of them, from horizon to horizon, dusted by fresh snow. We must have flown close to Davos. Was that the Finsteraarhorn, or the Matterhorn?

The fields of Kent looked beautiful, although it was midday and bright. Late afternoon and patches of sunlight and shade are usually best for England.

Most flights offer nothing to the eye. I was too lazy to get my camera.

Cairo had seemed scruffier than before the revolution. People are poorer, or more people are poor. More are selling things on pavements. Traffic and parking are worse: the police are busy elsewhere. There seemed to be more animals (donkeys) on the streets in downtown. The hotels near Tahrir Square after nearly three years are at ten per cent occupancy and less. Shepheard’s has closed its bar, not as a nod to religion, but because there is no one there. They suggest you go over the road to the Semiramis.

Old posts:


The barbarian hinterland.

4 Responses to “Flying 2”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    Was it wise to ban the Muslim Brotherhood outright? I kept asking this and everybody said it had to be done.

    I won’t fly Egypt Air. In June 2006 the oxygen masks came down when my evening flight was just over the Mediterranean en route to London. We flew back to Cairo at a low altitude. The whole experience, oddly enough, wasn’t particularly frightening. There seemed to be nothing obviously wrong with the cabin air, so we stopped using the masks. Still, an unpleasant experience. And it’s a dry airline.

  2. davidderrick Says:

    Having gone back this September, the city seemed sprucer again, as far as it can go in that direction. The Sisi regime is more repressive than Mubarak’s ever was, but it had become clear that Morsi was economically incompetent.

    There was also an element of relief at the end of religious rule, even among some who had supported Morsi: if this is religious rule, we don’t want it. I am not saying the mood was like England after Cromwell/Florence after Savonarola, but there is perhaps something here to hang on to.

  3. davidderrick Says:

    I did that flight again this morning and it didn’t let me down. This time I sat on the right. Clear views of the Cyclades, and then we flew over the Saronic Gulf and bang over the isthmus of Corinth and past a snowy Mount Parnassus.

    Historic sights on a historic day [Syriza victory]. Later we flew over Istria.

    Cairo hotels were filling up again, with help (more than one would like) from the Gulf. It was a historic, and tragic, day in Cairo too, though I saw no more than police barricades in the early morning: the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of the revolution. It is shocking to see Sisi posing as the revolution’s leader and calling all opponents Islamists. Egypt will explode again, but when and how?

  4. davidderrick Says:

    Today, en route from London to Beirut, I flew for the first time, consciously, over the Dardanelles, the Isparta lake region of Turkey, the central Taurus mountains, and the Karpass peninsula of Cyprus.

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