Routes to Asia, 1851

This fascinating map shows just how difficult the journey to Asia was even in the era of steam. It was before the Suez Canal so all passengers had to disembark in Egypt and travel overland to meet new ships on the Red Sea to travel the remainder of the journey. Another alternative was through Mesopotamia, but this was a much longer journey through some very inhospitable terrain.

Passengers in a hurry could take an overland shortcut through France to Marseilles or through Germany to Trieste by train to pick up steam ships from those ports and thus cut out having to travel around the Iberian peninsular and avoid the notoriously heavy seas of the Bay of Biscay.

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by Stephen Luscombe