Summer by the sea

Lubna Abdel-Aziz
Tuesday 28 Jun 2022


“Summertime an’ the livin’ is easy” as well it should be.

After a year of toil and trouble we all seek some respite from the over-stimulation of city life, or any kind of stressful daily routine.

According to a recent survey, 52 per cent of the world’s population chose to spend their holiday by the sea. That means every other person on this earth longs to be by the seaside. Call it ocean, lake, gulf, pond, it matters little. Water is the draw — clear blue water, inviting you in for a dip to cool off from the summer heat.

We have an affinity for the water and rightly so. Our reasons are many, though most of us are unaware of them.

Did we not spend the first nine months of our existence swimming in our mother’s wombs?

Could it be that there is some ancestral yearning as many scientists claim — that we all came from water? Is that why water feels like home?

While scientists are still pondering a myriad theories, the obvious fact is simple. Water is responsible for the air we breathe. It comes mainly from the oceans which produce half of the world’s oxygen and provides 50 times more carbon-dioxide than our atmosphere. It also controls our climate.

Two-thirds of our planet, or 70 per cent of the earth’s surface, is covered with water. We are dependent on the health of our oceans, yet do we seldom think of it. What we do think of is the enchanting sea that captures our imagination as we gaze at its multi-coloured blues of azure waters.

How splendid to do nothing, absolutely nothing but gaze at the sea — and wonder about the intriguing mysteries that lie beneath. Instantly, you find yourself in a good mood. Ever wonder why?

There is a scientific reason for this mysterious attraction to sea-water.

Gazing at the ocean, blue activates opiate receptors in the brain, releasing dopamine and oxytocin, your “feel good” hormones. Chocolate does the same, but even a bar of chocolate is not as delicious.

It is almost an intoxicating, euphoric state. It stirs the heart, inspires the imagination, and brings eternal joy to the soul.

When in this state your heart rate and blood pressure lowers, your digestion is stimulated and your body is able to relax.

We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water. Water triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for “rest and digest” response. There is little doubt it has a profound effect on us, both psychologically and emotionally.

Is it any wonder we seek a summer holiday by the sea?

Can we ever get tired of gazing at the horizon and the shifting blue of the water?

It is so stunning and serene, staring at it never gets old.

It has some potent power to make us think of things we love to think about — like finding our true selves in the sea. It washes away the stress and strain, leaving us with a sense of calm and clarity.

Summer commands lazy days and balmy nights by the sea-side.

There are five oceans and 50 seas or thereabouts. Of all the seas, the Mediterranean is the most important in the world since ancient times. The entire world across the ages, since the dawn of time was deeply affected by the miraculous powers of the Mediterranean. It is a divine phenomenon that led to the most influential civilisations the world has known.

While it is called the sea of Europe, and by the Romans Mare Nostrum, Our Sea, it in fact covers three continents. A great sea of the Atlantic Ocean, it is totally enclosed by Europe, Africa, and Asia from the north, east and south.

The warm and mild climate of the region allowed ancient countries to flourish, create their own system of rule, arts, architecture, philosophy, literature and medicine.

For the entire region the sea itself was the most responsible route, creating the rise of the Roman Empire which lasted for 2,000 years, unheard of in history.

Along the Mediterranean many famous sea-resorts sprung, dazzling the world with the beauty of its waters: the French Riviera or Cote d’Azur, the Italian Riviera, Marbella in Spain and countless others.

We are lucky in Egypt. Our choices are many.

We have the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Suez Canal, and last but not least, the great River Nile.

Alexandria, the second largest city, established by Alexander the Great lies, in the middle, surrounded by beautiful resorts, south and north.

The popular choice of many today is the North Coast, commonly known as Al-Sahel, by the Mediterranean.

En vogue is the North Coast, with 14 villages providing anything and everything you could wish for. It covers 1,050 km, or 650 miles of pure hypnotic bliss.

Never has the water been as calm, as blue, as soothing and healing as the waters of Al-Sahel.

Tourists are beginning to take notice and travel from far and wide to see this phenomenal Mediterranean spot, with white sandy beaches and soft waves washing the shore. The hypnotic blues of the water are mesmerizing, and if you spend the whole day gazing at it you will feel happy, energized, calm and relaxed.

It makes you marvel and dream.

It is summertime. The sea beckons.


“My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep/ The more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.”

 William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

A version of this article appears in print in the 30 June, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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