March 22, 2006 – Wednesday – Victoria to Toronto
Air Canada did a good job today. I have avoided flying Air Canada since 1967, so I have to say this is a pleasant surprise. My bags arrive as promised and undamaged; the flights are all on-time, and the in-flight service is quite good. I stay overnight at a hotel near the Toronto airport.
March 23, 2006 – Thursday – Toronto to Tripoli
I had a good night’s sleep last night. I return to Pearson Airport, where I meet our leader Ralph Chou and the RASC Eclipse group. I have made t-shirts for everyone who wanted them (see logo to right), and give them out while we wait for our Alitalia flight to depart for Milan and onward to Tripoli. It is a long day – about 12 hours flight time and 15 hours elapsed time between Toronto and Tripoli, with a stop in Milan to change aircraft.
March 24, 2006 – Friday – Tripoli, Libya
The Tripoli airport is quite large, however as we expect, the entry process with the Visas is painfully slow. Once the official realizes we are all listed on a single Visa form, he finally checks us all off and we are on our way. Both Mahmood from Bestway Tours & Safaris and the representative from Numidia Travel (Bestway’s partner in Libya) are there, along with a very nice air conditioned bus. The warm Sun and 23°C temperature feel good after all the cold, damp weather we’ve endured on our travels from Canada. As we drive through the outskirts of Tripoli, we notice lots of families having picnics, one family under the shade of each tree. It is Friday, and until sundown, it is the Muslim day of rest.
After our arrival at the hotel, Ralph quickly assigns a roommate for those of us in the group who are traveling solo, and then we all disappear to our rooms to get some well-deserved rest after our long journey.
Tripoli is an interesting city: very large, very Arabic, and very well developed. The city and the rest of the country are interesting, mainly because so many cultures have historically occupied this area. Oea was the Roman name for Tripoli, and the Phoenicians were here before the Romans. The Ottoman Turks were also here for over two hundred years, however eventually the Arabs took the place over once they ousted those terrible Italian armies and colonizers! King Idris was ushered into power by the United Nations after WWII, and then 27 year old Mu’ammar Gaddafi seized power on September 1, 1969 without even stepping foot in the country. By the way, “The Man” is not talked about in polite company by Libyans.