S.S. Uganda 1981  
Slave Ship Uganda !

At the age of thirteen years old I had the fantastic experience of going on a school educational cruise of the mediterranean on the S.S. Uganda. (Cruise number 171.)

We affectionally nicknamed the boat "Slave Ship Uganda" due to its prison like food and dormitories !

A year later in 1982 the ship was commisioned as a hospital ship during the Falklands War.

Split, Croatia, (Yugoslavia) - 30th Jan. 1981

We flew into communist Yugoslavia with some dodgy airline some 8 months after the death of Marshall Tito.

Split was grey and drab but the historic centre, with Diocletian's Palace and the city market was interesting.

Palaiokastritsa, Corfu - 31st Jan. 1981

I had never seen a sea so pristine before. Corfu was stunning. I remember being fascinated by old ladies dressed in black, picking olives from the knotted trees.

I also bought a huge Greek vase for my parents here. I managed to get it home with only a small chip!

The mosques of Cairo - 3rd Feb. 1981

We docked at Alexandria, and travelled to Cairo. Along the way we drove through villages of mud huts with cown drawn carts hogging the road. It was my first glimpse of real poverty in this world.

We visited the Muhammad Ali Mosque a beautiful mosque in the Citadel, central Cairo. Then we visited the Egyptian Museum. Sadly we missed Tutankhamun's death mask as it was away on tour! His sarcophagus however was on display. For a thirteen old boy from Wales it staggering.

Great Pyramids and the Sphynx, Giza, Cairo

Luckily the pyramids were still at Giza and were totally majestic. I can recall feeling awestruck at what I saw, they weren't photos in a book, I was actually there!

Oh, we almost sold our French teacher for an impressive price of two camels and some shekles!

Young dude ! Young Arab friend !

I remember the coach ride back to Alexandria because Gwyn, the young arab friend from Llanerchymedd , was in agony due to a bladder that was fit to burst.

He managed to make it back without any incident.

The Holy City of Jerusalem - 5th Feb. 1981

We docked at Haifa and travelled down through Jericho towards Jerusalem.

As I was a good Sunday School pupil I was really looking forward to seeing all those biblical sites!

The Wailing Wall, Jerusalem and Church of All Nations / The Garden of Gethsemane , on the slopes of the Mount of Olives

I knew the city was divided along religious lines but I was surprised at the close proximity of the focus for their faiths. We walked past the 'Dome of the Rock' Mosque and turned right to find ourselves alongside the Wailing wall. Appropriately only a stones throw away!

Along the Via Dolorosa

We walked through narrow crowded streets and followed the Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus took to his crucfixion.

We saw a pilgrim doing the walk carrying a large wooden cross on his back.

I never did quite understand why someone felt the need to do that?

Arm Guarded Bethlehem

After visiting the Church of the Crucifixion we went to Bethlehem. I was shocked to see soldiers brandishing machine guns outside the Church of the Nativity. It felt very odd.

I remember buying a bottle of 100% Holy Water.



The Dead Sea and caves of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Qumran.

I also bought mini-replica Dead Sea scrolls! Which was where we went next. The Dead Sea.

Everyone wanted to dive in to see if we floated, but I was content in just dipping in my fingers into the salty water. (And yes, I did lick them to taste the salt!)

Santorini, (aka Thira) Greece - 7th Feb. 1981

We rode the donkeys up the winding path to the cliff top town of Thira, but my best memory was going out onto the volcano in the middle.

It was still steaming and smelt badly of sulphur.

Venice, Italy - 10th Feb. 1981

I do not have fond memories of Venice. All my money had been stolen on board the ship and I then got seperated from my friends.

I strolled around Venice, penniless and lonely!

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