Travelling with Kate Adie Libya
We regularly organise tours accompanied by well-known figures to destinations in which they have particular expertise or a strong connection. In the past these have included Lord Hurd to Syria, Sandy Gall to Jordan and Roy Hattersley to India. Business Resources Manager Jessica Cater travelled with a group of Cox & Kings clients to Libya, accompanied by Kate Adie, in October last year. Greenbee Specialist Travel is offering another tour of Libya led by Kate Adie this September.
Travelling with Kate Adie wasn’t something I ever thought I would have an opportunity to do, so when I was asked to join the group that she was leading to Libya in October 2006, I jumped at the chance.
On reflection, I did begin to wonder what I had let myself in for. We all remember Kate’s calm, collected reporting from various trouble spots around the world during the 80s and 90s and I was sure her talks throughout the tour would be fascinating, but what would it be like spending time with someone with such an impressive reputation? My answer came the moment I met Kate, who was completely charming, and full of such a wealth of fascinating stories that it was impossible not to enjoy her company. On the first morning of the tour, watching the group absolutely captivated by her while we were waiting for our coach, I realised I could relax.
Our tour was short, only 7 nights, but thanks to the FCO having lifted their ban on using domestic flights within Libya, we were able to take in both Tripoli, our base for visiting Sabratha and Leptis Magna, and Benghazi from where we travelled to Apollonia and visited Cyrene and Ptolmais. Our first excursion was to Sabratha and when someone asked Kate if she had visited the site before, her answer threw a new perspective on things. This was one of the places that the journalists visiting Tripoli in the 80s and 90s had been taken when their ‘minders’ wanted them out of the city. The journalists all knew that when they returned something significant would have taken place in their absence.
Back at the Corinthia Hotel, we had had something significant to look forward to as well - the first talk by Kate. It was fairly informal and we had the opportunity to ask questions before going to dinner together. Our excursions focused on the classical world, and without Kate’s input it would have been easy to lose sight of the modern country we were visiting. Hearing her describe what Tripoli had been like in the immediate aftermath of the American bombings certainly made me regard the place with fresh eyes when we drove to the airport the next morning for our flight to Benghazi. It’s an unusual experience to drive past Colonel Gadaffi’s home knowing that you are in the company of someone who has visited him there.
This was my first trip to Libya, and it is a beautiful, welcoming country, full of fascinating sites and friendly people, but my experience of the country was enhanced by Kate’s involvement. Not only her talks, but her stories and comments as we visited the different sites, chatted at dinner or mulled over the previous day’s events at breakfast made me think much more carefully about the place I was in, and added an extra dimension to my visit. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend time with her, and given the chance I would eagerly join another expert led tour with a great deal of excitement and no apprehension at all.