Aleppo Cont'd and Homs
Trip Start Oct 20, 2008
93Trip End Jan 31, 2009
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Took a bus from the main station to Homs. Took 2 hours as opposed to the 3 that Lonely Planet had suggested. The bus system in Syria is exactly the same as that in Turkey. The buses and the stations are of the same high quality. I paid 150 Syrian pounds for the ride.
Because today is Saturday, there was no bus ride to Crac des Chevaliers, a medieval castle between Homs and Lattakia. Therefore, I had to make a deal with a cab driver. He took me there in 1 hour, waited for 3 and brought me to my hotel for 1,800 Syrian pounds, with tips. I should have told him that tips were included in the 1,650 that we had agreed on
Syria has some stunning fortresses. Although they were built around the same time (11th Century) Chevaliers was even more impressive that the Citadel of Aleppo. There was a whole medieval city inside it. I spent quite a bit of time on top of the command tower imagining that I was the ruler of all the visible lands.
Why doesn't Turkey have such fortresses? I guess the main dfifference is having been subject to the Crusades. Modern-day Turkey was under Byzantine rule at the time. In addition, the main target of the Crusades was this region, not Anatolia.
Had lunch at Restaurant des Chevaliers right across from the main entrance. Chicken, fries, salad and Lebanese beer were all good. 350 Syrian pounds.
Moved into a non-Lonely Planet hotel. Can't even remember the name. It is more spacious than my room in al-Salam and the toilet has a seat. A rip off: 1,000 pounds.
Walked around Homs in the second part of the day. It seems to be cleaner and better organized than Aleppo. The city doesnt't feel like a labyrinth at all.
I walked into the most luxurious internet cafe ever. Face the museum; take the road to its right and keep walking for 5 minutes. It will be on your right.
The average car on the streets of Aleppo and Homs is newer than that in Tehran.
Homs has an oil refinary that processes the oil from Iraq.