During a short trip to Cairo, I did two long drives for meetings in Suez and Alexandria. We returned the same day on both occasions. Last time, I managed to drive around Alexandria - to at least see it having done the drive. This time, I had a chance to see the Suez Canal, for about ten minutes, after our meeting. Ships are kept at either end and released in groups. We were lucky to arrive at a time when ships were sailing past.
Opened in 1869, it's nearly 200km long, 24m deep and about 200m wide. All I knew about its history was the the Suez crisis of the 1950s. Read its Wikipedia entry here to learn more. I was not surprised to learn that it was dug by forced labour. It made me laugh how the British opposed this - taking the moral high ground - only to seek to buy a large share a few years later.
To get a feel for the scale, have a look at the life-saving-tube thingy in the photo below. It's a bout a quarter of the way from the right.
The thing that impresses me most is not the way this place looks; nor is its rather horrible (and predictable) history intriguing in any way. What I do love about it is how simple it is, and how much it has changed the world.