Well it seems the Romans really did get around, from Egypt we have seen the remains of Roman occupation everywhere and same in Syria. In the morning after recovering from our Beirut ordeal we jumped on a cheap bus to Palmyra which was a 3 hour journey east from Damascus. It is one of Syria’s most famous sights so we thought we better get there. We arrived safe enough and managed to avoid paying an exorbitant taxi price then managed to avoid paying commission on our hotel room after the taxi driver tried to insist he had brought us there and we hadn’t asked specifically for that hotel. We got a box like room with no windows but with air-con and went out to get some food.
The town of Palmyra is pretty small and touristy, but it has a nice feel and very relaxed, not a lot of tourists around at all, which may explain the insistent shop sellers. One guy who makes silver had us trapped for a good half an hour drinking tea explaining all the different types of jewelery to us. We had an amazing lunch of some Bedouin special, yummy rice with veges/chicken on top, so good. We got a bit distracted and did some shopping as there was a lot of stuff to buy and it was very very cheap.
Finally in the later afternoon we made it over to the ruins, which unsurprisingly looked pretty similar to other ruins and couldn’t really compare with Jerash in Jordan. The ruins are free and have a road through them which is good but opens you up to being stalked by camel owners trying to get you to have a ride. We checked out the main temple which was cool then had a bit of a wander before grabbing a taxi up the hill to the old citadel/castle to watch the sun set.
The citadel is perched high on this hill that overlooks the city and the far off tombs and right over the desert, perfect for seeing any oncoming armies. It has a big moat around (not full of any water any more) and you cross a bridge to climb up through the narrow corridors and through tunnels to come out on top and watch the sun set. Because it is always nice weather here the sun sets are always good. So it was very cool and we had great views across the city and the ruins.
After our huge and late lunch we wandered the shops a bit more, finding a shesha accessory shop which I got carried away and brought a few extra bits for my pipe I will probably never use. Then we drank some coffee and smoked some shesha in a street side cafe who over charged us something stupid for it. Luckily in Syria being overcharged is the difference of a few dollars so not really a huge deal just frustrating as its the principle!
We went back to our room to sleep under the nice cool air-son…however a power cut at around 5am had us both up sweating in our room which had become an oven. So it was an early start out to the minivan stop to get a ride to Hama, our next destination. Again we were ripped off with a ‘luggage tax’ which we managed to bargain down a bit. An uneventful ride to Homs where we changed on a local bus then on to another bus and finally made it to Hama
Tags: blogsherpa, Palmyra, ruins, Syria, TRAVELS 2008