Nightingale 19th Century Journey on the Nile

By June 3, 2020 Uncategorized No Comments
Cairo 1866

Florence Nightingale

I like many other children went through a phase of wanting to become a nurse as testified to by my water-soaked teddy bears who obligingly drank their “medicine” in copious amounts! I am sure my mother was relieved when my aspirations moved on and the washing line could be used for things other than my bears.
Fortunately for all of us there are many who do follow their dreams and become nurses, many of whom follow lifelong careers in the caring of others and as we have seen in these recent times are selfless and dedicated in their vocation.
All of those who do qualify take the “Nightingale Pledge”, and the Florence Nightingale Medal is the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve. Both awards named after “The lady of the lamp”, who gave nursing a favourable reputation during the Crimean War and established a framework of training for nurses that is still recognised around the world today.
Whilst we know Florence Nightingale for her impact on nursing there are some interesting facts about her you may not know.
• She was born in 1820 in the Italian City of Florence and named after this city.
• Born into a wealthy family Florence received an excellent education and developed an interest in nursing early in her life but was expected to follow the restrictive social code for affluent young English women of marriage and children.
• While in Greece she rescued a baby owl from children who were tormenting it. Florence called the owl Athena and it travelled with her until it died just before she went to the Crimea.

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

Florence travelled on to Egypt and this is probably the least know part of her life and yet it was here that was to have the most profound effect on her. Her writings on Egypt recorded in her letters mostly to her sister are testimony to her learning, literary skill, and philosophy of life.
Arriving in Alexandria, Egypt in November 1849 she travelled by boat to Cairo, the city she called “The Rose of Cities”
“No one ever talks about the beauty of Cairo, ever gives the least idea of this surpassing city. I thought it was a place to buy stores at and pass through on one’s way to India, instead of its being the rose of cities, the garden of the desert, the pearl of Moorish architecture, the fairest, really, the fairest place of earth below. It reminds me always of Sirius; I can’t tell why except that Sirius has the silveriest light in heaven above, and Cairo has the same radiant look on earth below; and I shall never look at Sirius in future years without thinking of her.” Florence Nightingale November 1849

Whilst visiting the Citadel in Cairo, she wrote; “From the terrace of the mosque is what I would imagine is the finest view in the whole world. Cairo, which is immense, lies at its feet, a forest of minarets, domes and towers. The Nile flows his solemn course beyond, and the three Pyramids stand sharp against the sky. Here Osiris and his worshippers lived, here Abraham and Moses walked; here Aristotle came; here, later, Mahomet learnt the best of his religion and studied Christianity; here, perhaps, our Saviour’s mother bought her little son to open his eyes to the light. They are all gone in body; but the Nile and the Pyramids stand there still”. Florence Nightingale 1849

Florence then travelled from Cairo aboard a traditional Dahabiya sailing the Nile all the way to Abu Simbel. Here she wrote in January 1850, “Sublime in the highest style of intellectual beauty, intellect without effort, without suffering … not a feature is correct — but the whole effect is more expressive of spiritual grandeur than anything I could have imagined. It makes the impression upon one that thousands of voices do, uniting in one unanimous simultaneous feeling of enthusiasm or emotion, which is said to overcome the strongest man.”

Florence always attributed her nursing career to a calling by God which she first experienced at her home in Embley Park, Hampshire and yet few realise that is was her experience in Egypt that seems to have settled her resolve that her life would be dedicated to the service of others.

At Thebes, now Luxor she wrote of being “called to God”, and a week later near Cairo she wrote in her diary “God called me in the morning and asked me would I do good for him alone without reputation.”

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingales obvious legacy is her outstanding contribution to the world of nursing however the impact of her travels and experiences these provided, shaped and strengthened her views and provided the foundation for one the greatest women contributors of her time. Would our travels impact and help us to contribute back even in a small measure as it did for her?
Nightingale, Florence (1987). Letters from Egypt: A Journey on the Nile 1849–1850








What our clients have to say

What a unique experience this was for my husband and I and a group of friends ( 5 other couples). I felt like we were going back in time and living the life that a well to do 19th century family would have while they were sojourning down the Nile River. The decor of the living spaces on the second level upstairs on the upper deck looked like pieces you would see in a palace of royalty. The bedrooms on the first level that had windows that opened up just above the water level were spacious and comfortable. The bed was comfy as can be!!
The staff on the boat, and there were many, were so very attentive and tried their hardest to meet our every need and also surprised us with daily unexpected niceties and full on entertainment. The food was all homemade and delicious. Our chef was quite talented and the meals were never repeated( except for breakfast which was made to order eggs and an assortment of breads/muffins/croissants and fruit etc. Coffee and tea always available.
The tours that were scheduled for us were so well run and our Egyptologist, Ahmed , was obtaining his Ph.D in Egyptology and was so very interesting and knowledgeable. We had the opportunity to go on a hot air balloon ride and also a trip to Abu Simbel which were both amazing and unforgettable. After every tour we arrived back on the boat and were greeted by Tito and Adam with specialty cold lovely drinks and cold lemon scented wet towels to refresh ourselves with.
Tito took us shopping in the Luxor Market for a couple of hours the day before we left. He helped us negotiate the goods we purchased which was a huge help.
Lastly I have to mention our Dahabiya Cruise Captain, Mahmoud . This guy was amazing! He made sure we had everything we needed and kept us entertained with his humour and incredible dancing skills. Our group learned so much about the Egyptian culture from him during our dinner conversations.
Our group all agreed that we would miss these wonderful, thoughtful people that we spent a week with and hope they all knew how much we appreciated each one of them.

Joan Mancini
Travel date Sept 2021

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