Difference between revisions of "Port Said"
Revision as of 10:36, 2 December 2012
Port Said (Arabic: بورسعيد Bur Said) is Egypt's third city (603,787 people), its second seaport and the entry point of the Suez Canal by the Mediterranean Sea. It has a cosmopolitan heritage appears specially in its various architectural styles for its buildings, It is situated on one bank of the canal, facing its twin city, Port Fouad (Bur Fouad).
Port Said was founded by Sa'id of Egypt on Easter Monday, April 25, 1859, when Ferdinand de Lesseps gave the first symbolic swing of the pickaxe to signal the beginning of construction.
The Lighthouse of Port Said was built in 1869 by Francois Coignet using reinforced concrete for the first time in the history, The height of the lighthouse is 56 meters. The lighthouse now is the only original building still standing in Port Said.
Port Said flourished particularly during the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century when it was inhabited by various nationalities and religions most of them were from Mediterranean countries, they coexisted in tolerance forming a real cosmopolitan community.
Since its establishment Port Said had a prominent place among Egyptian cities and we do not exaggerate if we said among global cities as well, for instance the city was the third in Egypt to witness a film screening after Cairo and Alexandria in the year 1898, also it enjoyed electricity in 1891, nine years after New York.
Rudyard Kipling described the vitality of Port Said's community by saying "If you truly wish to find someone you have known and who travels, there are two points on the globe you have but to sit and wait, sooner or later your man will come there: the docks of London and Port Said".
Port Said suffered from several wars and played an historic role during the Suez crisis in 1956 that failed to achieve any of its objectives.
Today's Port Said is considered one of the Egyptian business centers, as it was declared a duty-free port in January 1976, attracting people from all over Egypt.
Port Said has a Mediterranean climate, with warm humid summers and mild rainy winters. The daytime can be humid in summer, with summer temperatures averaging 31°C (88°F), but evenings are usually cooler and breezy, especially by the Corniche. Winters can get cold, with daytime highs down sometimes to 12°C (53°F), with ocassional rain and sometimes hail. Humidity is high throughout the year. The best time to visit Port Said is in spring (March-June) and autumn (September-November), since it's at its busiest in summer, when Egyptians flock down to escape the searing heat of Cairo.
Port Said is easily reached by plane, train or bus.
Port Said's airport or El Gamil Airport is (IATA: PSD), which has a limited selection of domestic flights. The airport lies 6 km to the center of the city. A taxi will take you about 15 minutes and should cost no more than 15 LE.
Several bus companies offer a bus service into Port Said at a very low price range: 20-35 LE. Buses are air conditioned and come complete with a hostess trolley service. Companies include East Delta, Super Jet and Pullman. Operating times vary from one company to another, but there are trips between Cairo and Port Said virtually every hour from early morning until midnight.
Note that while the buses themselves are perfectly comfortable, the duration of your journey from Cairo to Port Said (and vice versa) will depend on your pick-up/drop-off point. Most buses start out from the El-Torgoman Bus Station in Cairo and stop by the Almaza Bus Station in Heliopolis before finally setting out to Port Said; if you join from El-Torgoman expect a 4 hour trip rather than the average 2-3.
Port Said Bus Station is the place you can catch the bus in order to travel to Cairo and other major cities in Egypt.
For the return journey, trains depart from Port Said Train Station, it is on Mustafa Kamal Street.
To travel from Cairo to Port Said by car, the journey usually takes around 3 hours, depending on speed and surrounding traffic.
The usual cautions for driving in Egypt apply; see Egypt for details.
The Louis Travel passenger ship from Cyprus is no longer in service. A cargo boat accepting passengers travels to Port Said from Mesrin (Turkey) as of May 2012.
Port Said is quiet and relatively small city; you can get pretty much anywhere by using the local transportation available any where.
Port Said's white and blue taxis are a good way to travel in the city, and a cheap one as well. No taxi ride between any two points in the city should cost more than 5LE.
To get into a taxi, wave at the driver and yell the name of your destination. If the driver agrees they would park at the side of the road as soon as possible. Some taxis will stop to pick you up even if they already have a passenger, but such offers are best refused. Furthermore, always check back once you get out of the taxi, there is no number to call if you lose anything of value, and nearly no chances of having it returned.
Port Said is linked by the ferry to its twin city Port Fouad which is considered the Asian part of this Afro-Asian governorate "Port Said" on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal, the ferry is used to cross the Canal between the two cities holding both people and cars for free, the trip time between the two cities doesn't exceed 10 minutes, It is a nice journey that you can enjoy for free.
There are a variety of local bus services which have improved significantly in the past few years, but they are rather confusing for those who haven't lived in Port Said for a while. Apart from city buses, you will also find "mini-buses", which work on hop-and-go basis. They are easily recognizable 14-person buses, which will stop when you wave and stop where you need to get off. The drivers rarely speak English, so make sure you know the Arabic name of your destination or that you already know where to stop. The routes are usually along the main streets and cost between LE 0.25-0.50.
Most obvious sights includes the port, of which some ancient facilities remains. Also the passing of the huge container ships and supertankers into the canal is an impressive sight. The rests of the old town, bombed during the Suez crisis is also worth a visit.
The local bazaar is a great way of spending a day looking at all the shops.
Modern Port Said
Some oldies from the French and English communities can be found from time to time (books...), and of course the unavoidable and omnipresent tourist collectibles.
Downtown you may buy very convenient jeans, T-shirts, shoes and other clothing at the market stalls in the inner streets. Prices are usually fixed, so no bargaining needed.
Lots of nice and cheap fruit bars.
Although crime is rarely violent, beware of pickpockets and don't flash your valuables or wear a bum bag/fanny pack. Street kids, taxi drivers, and others may harass tourists. They will usually desist after a stern "La!" or two. Or you can say "la shukran!" (no thanks) or "emshi" (go!).
Port Said is a conservative city, so women should cover their shoulders, midriffs, cleavage and legs. Even still, women can expect to be heckled or harassed in the street, especially if walking alone. The best response is to ignore the offender and pretend you don't hear anything. Cover your head when entering places of worship.
Egyptian Tourist Authority has offices at 8 Palestine st., ☎ +20 66 3235289, Port Said Airport (El Gamil Airport), ☎ +20 66 3221680, Port Said Railway Station, ☎ +20 66 3333241 - 3221861 - 3223759.