All out of Witty Syria titles
Trip Start Apr 04, 2007
115Trip End Oct 22, 2007
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We woke up very early this morning and headed off to Palmyra. After some long bus rides, complete with multiple replaying of the worst music you've ever heard in your life, we arrived at our station to switch buses to get to our hotel. We had to chase the bus, as they tried to take off with some of our bags still on it, but got there in the end.
The hotel is beautiful, and the area is very touristy. It makes the shop owners very forward and competitive, but everyone here seems to speak 5 or more languages! I mean everyone! Our personal favourite was the waiter / chef at this tiny restaurant who not only spoke Arabic, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, English, and Italian, but also a fair bit of Maori when he found out Gabrielle was from New Zealand.
We've spent most of the day taking it pretty easy, but tonight we are going to climb above the ruins of Palmyra and watch the sun set. Tomorrow we have an extensive tour of the ruins, with a guide, and some more free time to explore the area. In the meantime, we've spent a very pleasant (and frustrating!) bit of our afternoon, unsucessfully, trying to upload photos onto our travel blog. On the plus side, we've been drinking endless cups of free tea, provided by the shop owner! Internet in Syria just isn't the same.
We tromped off to check out the ruins of Palmyra. Despite the late afternoon, it was a blazingly hot day. We poked around the ruins, marvelling at the sheer scale of it all. The colour of it was spectacular. The golden, orange stone against the clear blue sky and the desert. Camel riders among the pillars, the image only broken when a motorcycle with a man, his wife, and several children riding on it, drove past. One motorcycle stopped, and a man asked us to come have tea with him in very broken English. We said we had to explore the ruins a bit first.
The downside was the tea. (For those who know Gabrielle, I know your thinking how can she say tea is a downside!) Our host had two small cups, with the remains of tea still inside them. Using a rather grungy looking bottle of water, he simply rinsed out the cups and refilled them with tea, handing us the cups. The tea was quite cold, and had a large amount of floaty like objects in it that were in no way tea leaves. We, very discretely, tried to put our cups aside and occasionaly tip a little out as soon as he turned his back, but then came the moment when he asked us why we were not drinking our tea. Making a play as if we'd simply forgot about it's existance (instead of the actual steady looming dread we had of drinking it) we had no choice, under his watchful eye, but to sip and smile. He promply refilled our cups, despite our polite attempts to dissuade him. Sometimes Syrian hospitallity is too much.
With the knowledge of impending gastrointestinal doom, we said our goodbyes and booked it back to the hotel for some gravol. Apart from some slight nausia and stomach churning, we ended up alright.
We made it back downstairs, just in time to meet up with our tour group for a sunset hike up to the Citadel that overlooks Palmyra. The ruins glowed a soft rose colour as the light faded, and (not to be all poetic or anything) Shadows stretched down the sand dunes from the stone tombs. It was a spectacular sight to see the sun sinking down below the dunes in the distance, the ancient city slowly losing its pink glow until the lights of the night took up the cause.
We made it back for some late night dinner of classical bedouin food, (not bad, but not the best we've had here yet) and headed in for the evening, still feeling some effects of the tea. Tomorrow we take a guided tour of the ruins of Palmyra, to here the history of the once grand city.
We're thinking about all you guys out there. All our best from Syria.
Dan and Gabrielle
P.S. - just for all the people who've emailed, hoping we're safe and ok, Syria is one of the safest countries we've been to! According to our guide, a recent UN survey found one of the lowest rates of violent crime in the world exists in Syria! Cool eh? Everyone is super friendly and very generous with their time and tea! And have we mentioned the food?