Ghosts in the desert

Trip Start Oct 30, 2005
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Trip End Jun 19, 2006


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Flag of Syria  ,
Saturday, April 29, 2006

With the clock on my 15-day visa ticking away, and 3 relaxing and most enjoyable days in Damascus behind me, I got back on the road and tracked north-west into the desert, heading for the ruins of Palmyra.
Once ruled by the legendary Queen Zenobia, Palmyra was an outpost of considerable importance and immense wealth for the Assyrians, Greeks, and Romans, before falling to the Muslims in 634 AD, and then finally being destroyed by an earthquake in 1089.

These days, the desert-clad ruins of the 2nd-century AD city are some of the most evocative in the Mediterranean, and one of Syria's greatest attractions.
After feeling underwhelmed by the ruins of Jerash in Jordan, I was champing at the bit to see Palmyra, and watch the sun set across the desert, silhouetting a Corinthian colonnade against a burnt sky.

I got all that, and more.

As I lugged my sheesha-encumbered pack through the door of the Bel Shaamin Guesthouse in Palmyra Town, I was surprised, very pleasantly so, to be greeted with a "Oh! Hello, Connor!" Who should be sitting in the lounge, but Jon and Louisa, the lovely English couple I had met 6 weeks earlier atop Shali Fortress in Siwa, Egypt.
It was a happy reunion, and a fortuitous one for me. They were heading the same way as me, and so we joined forces. I gained two great travel companions, and J & L acquired an uncouth, slightly feral Kiwi lad - a slightly lopsided trade, to be sure, but one that was sure to be fun!
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