Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Syria is Cool!!
Like all good adventures there were some high points (Palmyra) and some low points (figs on a string) on our Syrian escapade. At the moment I am still working on unlocking my flash card with my many images on it. Apparently if you let your digital camera battery run down completely it can lock your flash card and then you have to download a program to recover your images. It's a long process, but hopefully in the end all of the images will be safely recovered. But enough about the trials of digital cameras... Syria is awesome. Filled with excellent archaeological sites, friendly people, interesting architecture, lots of political propaganda, and great things to buy, Syria is an adventure and a half. We spent a lot of time walking around the souks (markets) in Damascus and Aleppo, taking in the sites, smells, and sounds of Syria. We ate some fairly dodgy street food - figs on a string, shwarma, blackberry "juice", immature almonds (a delicacy only found in the spring), jellied fruits, and neon coloured jelly candies.
Over the next few days we will post some images and thoughts about our travels. Three of our travelling party (a very amicable group of travellers) did not have visas for Syria. US passport holders cannot get visas at the border, so we went through a travel agent in Syria who arranged our visas. We started our journey in Amman and took a taxi to the border (9JD, about an hour and 15 mins). The travel agent met us there and we had our visas within minutes and were off to Damascus (1.5 hours) in our Amman taxi. We left Amman around 9:30am and by 2:00pm we were exploring the Old City of Damascus. We were all astonished at the relative closeness of Syria and all wondered why we had not visited sooner.
The first image is Yo in front of our first stop - Damascus and the Ghazal hotel. It is in a great location (10 minutes from the Old City) and Ahmed, the hostel keeper was incredibly welcoming and very helpful. A and Yo are drinking tea in the courtyard of the Ghazal. After getting a room off we went on to explore the Old City. The following are some images from the Old City: a general street scene, a herbal remedy shop and a spice shop.
After two days in Damascus we went on to Palmyra, Aleppo, and the to Crac de Chevaliers and ending back in Damascus for a huge shopping foray. Along the way we visited archaeological sites at Ebla, the Dead Cities, Apamea, and the pilgrimage site of Maloula and a wet lands area to the east of Aleppo. More to come....