|Well we finally left Amman in Jordan at about 1300hrs, this put our plan to ride straight to Palmyra out of the window, the delayed departure was thanks to some lowlife scumbag removing a part from each bike thus making the scottoiler inoperative and leaking oil (may the flee's of a thousand camel's infect his arsehole and his balls fester and drop off ).|
|It would be true to say that we were not overly enamoured with Syria on the way through first time around (we still think that the mediterrean coast and Damascus are pretty grubby hole's with a few good castle's and an interesting old town - in Damascus) . But our return to Syria has revealed a much better and more interesting side to the country, Having stopped for the night in Damascus we rode on to Palmyra (Tadmur) and found ourselves in the best ruin's we have seen yet, Palmyra, was for the two of us, far more impresive than Petra, we think this is probably because we had never heard of Palmyra when we left England so we had no preconceived expectations, unlike Petra where I think we expected too much. In Palmyra we walked around most of the ruins for free (this was a real bonus as all of the interesting place's we have been charge for entry) , they do charge for entry to the Temple of Bel, two of the Tomb's and the Citadel, (300 Syrian pounds £4 or 15 Syrian pounds 20 pence with a student card, so we now have fake student card's !! ) we only paid to go into the Citadel which provide's an excellent view and is a good place photograph the sunset, Whilst wandering around Palmyra we were offered numerous cups of tea, we stopped several times two drink tea and talk ( the tea was free and it is offensive to refuse though we did talk our way out of some cups of tea as there is only so much tea that we could drink in one day)|
|Photo's do not do this place justice, the ruin's go all the way to the base of the hill and for 500 mts in the opposite direction see picture below|
|On the first evening in Palmyra Cliff nipped out of the hotel to get a couple of beer's and spotted an English registered Land Rover, so he went over for a quick chat, Peter and Celia and their three children, aged approx 7-11 years were on route from Alwick in Northumbria to Botswana, It was so good to meet some fellow British overlanders, so we made arrangements to meet later at the Pancake house restaurant, ( I think the kids liked the idea of pancakes ) when we arrived it did not look very promising but once in the small courtyard restaurant things started to look up, the food here turned out to be the best since we left England ( so if you happen to be in Palmyra look for the signs from the bus station and give the Pancake house a try, the Mansaf (local bedouin dish) is superb, the chicken,tomato and garlic pancake was also excellent ). We enjoyed an excellent evening chatting to our fellow Brits, topic's of conversation consited of vehicle modifications through to border crossings, custons taxes, route's, the weather in Europe and the varing price of beer, As the kids were getting very tired we went bask to their hotel room where we exchanged some very useful information ( I know it sounds dodgy but we have been sworn to secrecy ). You can look at their website at www.a2b.uk.net.|
|Above:- the view from the Citadel with the camel racing track in the foreground, we think we can see the curve of the earth in the over the desert in the background.
Below:- the sun setting over the hills in the opposite direction
|As were leaving the Citadel we met up with Simon - an Englishman with an Arab dress along with his Belgium friend Pascalina. We spoke of how he had become famous in town for his outfit - after we were told to watch out for him. We met later at the Pancake House for dinner. To keep this page a little smaller than it could be then we will skip the whole conversation but a good night was had by all.|
|From Palmyra we went to Hama just north of Homs to see the huge water wheels ( Norias ) that carried water from the river to an overhead aquaduct many years ago. They are still working today although the water is not used for the town but purely decoration. The wheels are entirely made from wood and make a constant groaning sound and range from the smaller ones at around 4m diameter to the larger ones at somewhere around 20m. We set off in the morning to do the tour and were quite happily wandering around saying hello to all in reply to their hello's when we heard "Bonjour" so we replied "Bonjour". The man walking next to us then sprouted off in French - after explaining that our French was very limited he insisted on showing us the whole town. Six hours later, several cups of tea with his friends whilst smoking the hubbly bubbly pipe and watching Turkish Belly Dancing DVD's and with no English spoken at all the tour finished. We had been into places not usually found by tourists - a woodworkers shop to climb under the floor to see the old mill water wheel, a private garden to see more wheels etc. We also came across a group of lads swimming near to one of the larger water wheels - our presence highly amused them and they showed off their diving skills by clinging to the water wheel on its way up and diving from the top. Our newly acquired guide and friend asked for no money for his efforts and in fact came to the hotel in the morning to wave us goodbye.|
|One set of Norias|
|Diving skills in Hama|
The hospitality we encountered in Syria was overwhelming and despite our initial misgivings we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves here.
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