Timeline of my travels

Warning, to save time I didn’t proof read this, so no fussing at me for grammar/spelling mistakes.  I don’t have a lot of time, so be happy with what you get.

Well, my week of travel was VERY amazing (I really can’t describe how incredibly amazing parts of it were), and it felt like a lot longer than just a week.  To give a quick rundown of what I did and where I went when, here’s a list of my adventure:

Friday:  Left in the morning by bus to Palmyra, a tourist city that exists because of the very old Roman and pre-Roman ruins of a city that used to be a major trading route.  That evening I visited some tombs, and a castle up on a big hill overlooking the ruins to watch the sun set.

Saturday: Got up at 4:30 and met a Bedu man named Jasim so I could get a camel ride up to the castle to watch the sun rise over the ruins.  After the sun rose he let me “drive” the camel back down and we went to the ruined city of Palmyra.  I spent the morning wandering around the ruins and visiting the ancient Temple of Baal.  That afternoon I hung out at the oasis with some more Bedouins and some other tourists.  That night Jasim took me to a Bedouin tent to spend the night (the tent was set up for tourists to have a taste of “bedouin living”, there were 6 other tourists there and about 7 Bedouins).

Sunday: Woke up in time to watch the sun rise over the desert, and then went back to Palmyra to catch a bus to Aleppo.  That evening I just wandered around Aleppo’s new city and took pictures

Monday: Left around 10 am with several other travelers I had met to go to St. Simon’s Citadel.  It is up in a hill, surrounded by wheat fields and olive groves.  The hill itself is covered in pine trees.  It was warm, and windy, and it smelled of pine, sun warmed crops, and hay.  It was an absolutely beautiful, lonely spot and I wanted to stay there for the rest of my life.  After the citadel, I changed drivers and hooked up with some other people going to see the dead cities and ruin at Elba.  Basically ruins of cities and castles that were abandoned, and they now sit in the midst of olive groves and on top of lonely, rock strewn hills where the sheep graze.  Got back late to Aleppo and made friend with a Syrian girl and stayed at her family’s house that night.

Tuesday: Went to explore the old city of Aleppo.  Got sidetracked on the way there by Aleppo’s beautiful public park.  I spend the day wandering the tight maze of streets in the old city, visiting mosques, buying things in the souk, and generally taking in the sights and sounds of the old city.  It was much like the old city in Damascus, but also very different with its own unique flavor.  Of the things I bought, the most interesting was probably the two sheep skins I got to sit on, to go along with the bedouin rug I bought back in Damascus.  They are very soft and fuzzy, I’m quite fond if them.  I stayed at the Syrian girls house again that night, her family was very welcoming and helpful.  I bought them some treats in the souk as a thank you.

Wednesday:  In the morning I went to the Citadel of Aleppo, look it up on Wikipedia, its pretty interesting.  I had an AMAZING view of the city, and enjoyed climbing around on high walls that would have my parents hyperventilating with worry >;)>.  I had to tear myself away to leave on the 3 o’clock train to Latakia.  I enjoyed the scenery as we sped through the mountains, and enjoyed hanging out the open door of the train to see the mountains better until a conductor showed up and closed it with a “you naughty girl” look on his face (may I point out that I was NOT the one who opened the door, some guy did it so he could have a smoke without filling up the compartment with cigarette smoke.  I simply seized the opportunity to see the beautiful countryside and get some cool wind in my face).

Thursday: I fell in with a couple from England as I got of the train the night before, and so we got together Thursday morning and went to the Castle of Saladin together.  It is in pretty good shape compared to other ruins I’d been to that week, and the view was spectacular.  It is perched on a finger of a mountain, and the crusaders who built it carved a huge gorge between the castle and the main part of the mountain, to protect it from attack.  I also caught a big beetle there that I saw flying around, that totally made my day (yes, I travel around with my insect catching stuff, minus the net since that would attract too much attention, I used my handkerchief to catch it).  After we got back we split up and I took a bus to Tartus.  I spent that evening walking the beaches in Tartus.  They had a lot of trash, but if you ignored that they were pretty nice beaches.  I didn’t swim, but waded along the edge until nightfall, taking pictures and collecting cool rocks.

Friday:  Got up early to catch a bus to Homs, and then got off halfway to take a taxi up to Qala’at Al-Hosn (Krak de Chavalliers I believe in French?).  It is the most famous, biggest, and best preserved castle in the middle east, built by the crusaders during the time they controlled that part of the middle east.  It was pretty cool, but by Friday I was getting pretty burned out as far as touring stuff and seeing castles and ruins, and I was hungry and refused to buy food there since it was exorbitantly expensive.  So I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I would have if I had visited some other time.  But in any case, I was very surprised by the weather.  It was partly cloudy and quite cool up there, and with the wind added in I was almost cold sometimes when the sun was behind the clouds.  I had a hard time getting a taxi back to the main road, since it was Friday and so there was no public transport, and all the taxi drivers were charging exorbitant fees.  I finally found a ride and returned to Tartus to collect my luggage, and then got on a bus to Damascus, which took about four hours to get there.  I arrived at about 8pm.  I was very glad to be “home”, a city that I was familiar with and knew my way around.

I had an amazing week, learned a lot, saw a lot, and experienced some really cool things.  I’m really glad I went, and very grateful that God worked everything out as I went along.

I will be posting pictures of each day, hopefully one day at a time, on photobucket, so keep an eye out for more to come.  Oh, and don’t get mad at me if I get behind, I had the first day of class today for level five, and it is HARD.  I got a ton of homework and its only the first day.  Grumble.  I like it a lot, I’m just really tired and its hard doing homework in the heat of the afternoon when you’re body is telling you to sleep

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