Desert ruins in Palmyra
Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
61Trip End Jan 10, 2008
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The bus to Palmyra was nothing too exciting, however we did stop for a group of a few hundred wild camels roaming the desert and crossing the road, can't say I've seen that before.
Some brief history on Palmyra before I start talking about the place. Palmyra is regarded as one of the world's premier historical and archaeological sites. Whilst the site of Palmyra has been inhabited for around 4000 years, the city really began to prosper as a Roman outpost that connected the desert trade route to both the east and the west. In 256 AD the city became independent of the Roman empire, and came under the control of Queen Zenobia after her husband was assassinated (who many suspect her of having a hand in)
We all arrived in Palmyra late afternoon and therefore only had about 30 minutes or so to initially explore the site. Initial impressions were very positive, and I look forward to seeing the sights over the coming days.
Tuesday involved getting up at 5.45(?!) as a couple of the girls from my dorm had organised to do a sunrise camel trek through the ruins. I decided to join them, but I was walking instead of taking a camel. Although mainly overcast, the sunrise was still very beautiful and I can see why so many people recommend viewing the site at this time.
The afternoon involved more exploration of the ruins, the site is absolutely huge and stretches for kilometres, but I managed to see the main sites in about half the day
Whilst our exploring the main "city" that day a sandstorm came in which was quite surreal (in a good way) yet also annoying at the same time, it took more than one shower to feel clean after that! Myself and one of the girls from the hostel trekked up to a citadel located on a mountain (well more like a hill but it sounds much more impressive if I call it a mountain) for sunset. Unfortunately due to the groggy weather the sunset never happened
Wednesday I had a well earned sleep-in, and made a quick visit up to Palmyra Museum which was pretty much "same-old, same-old", although it had a few good pieces. A few of us from the hostel revisited the castle today in clear weather and the views were magnificent. Unfortunately I was leaving that day for Damascus, so I only really had a couple hours to explore the site in the only decent weather Syria had seen for 3 days. Despite the awful weather, I had been suitably impressed by Palmyra and I would agree it has definitely been one of the highlights of Syria.
The bus ride to Damascus was as per normal, however they played some B-Grade American martial arts movie from the 80's called "Best of the Best II". It was a horrible movie with corny action but all the Syrians seemed to be glued to the screen enjoying it. Arrival in Damascus was made sour by pouring rain and a taxi driver who could not find the hostel then tried charging me money for the time spent driving while he was lost. As much as I love Syria unfortunately the taxi drivers are still idiots - I think it must be some universal code for that profession.
So the plan at the moment is to spend 4 to 5 days in Damascus, seeing both the city itself and some surrounding sites as well.