One contemporary enthused: “To me the Nile was source of never-ending interest and delight; ... the country road from which you see a chapter in the history of the humours of Egypt.” (Doublas Sladen)
For centuries, the Arab and Ottoman world – particularly Palestine and the Holy Land – had drawn individual travellers from Europe including merchants, pilgrims, artists, scientists and adventurers. Up until around the middle of the 19th century these individuals had relied largely on their own ingenuity with regard to financing journeys, making their own way across often uncharted lands, and securing reliable modes of transport and lodgings. As such, few systems or networks were in place for those who ventured to the region and most had to make do with what local culture had to offer. Merchants could rely on a network of khan
s or caravanserais. The more affluent travellers, often from well-connected families, travelled with the help of key contacts within the European communities of the Arab and Ottoman world, residing on the way to and at their destination with government or consular officials from their own countries or those allied to them. Pilgrims, meanwhile, depended on the networks and facilities of their religious communities, with monasteries and other religious foundations often serving as hostels for visitors. Itineraries were determined by the purpose of travel.