Magazine article Geographical

On the Nile: In the Golden Age of Travel

Magazine article Geographical

On the Nile: In the Golden Age of Travel

Article excerpt

ON THE NILE: In the Golden Age of Travel

by Andrew Humphreys; The American University in Cairo Press; 20.40 [pounds sterling] (hardback)

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[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

'Most wonderfully oriental and novel to English people,' was the verdict of Miss Riggs of Hampstead on visiting Cairo in 1869, one stop on a whirlwind tour organised by the young Thomas Cook. Cook's early ventures into tourism had involved transporting some 570 workers from Leicester to Loughborough for a temperance meeting: an 11-mile railway trip.

This more ambitious enterprise was the first step in what was to be his most pioneering development in the field of mass travel: altering the perception that travel was a male pastime. Presenting himself as 'the travelling chaperone', he enabled the Miss Riggses of the age to reach places they would otherwise never have seen.

The places themselves altered too: those first trips down the Nile employed dahabiyas--shallow, flat-bottomed boats, big enough to accommodate a library and a piano, and which required preventive sinking upon being hired, to rid them of rats and other vermin. …

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