Syria
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Having stocked up on a few essential food items we headed for the Syrian border. It was deserted and we had to get out to find the passport and customs people. They stamped our carnet once we had bought insurance US$60 and taxes US$7. They were disappointed that we were not diesel engined (US$100 diesel tax for each 7 days you are in Syria). We then headed off into Syria along the 'London to Cape Town Adventure Drive'.

Photo 454
 

The temperature dropped as we headed east up into the Jabal an Nusayiyah mountains and the next day we went up across the mountains through Slinfah. Once we reached the summit the mist came down and we were in the cloud. All the way down the other side the cloud got lower and lower and we didn't really emerge from it. We then headed south on our way to the Crac de Chevallier. This proved a bit elusive to find, we were completely in the mist at some points and whenever we stopped to ask for directions we were always told straight on. Eventually we went back south to the motorway and then, up north again, until we got stuck in a little village where we were shown the way, and, there is was.

The castle itself is quite impressive but the views were absent, as the mist was still all around us. There were only small signs telling you what each room was and most of it was up to your imagination, take a torch as some staircases lead into nowhere and safety ropes are mostly absent.

 

Photo 478
   


Palmyra/Tadmor was the next place we wanted to visit and this proved easy to find. Just follow the signs. The road to it across the desert was good but only just wide enough for two lorries to pass and straight and gently undulating. The surrounding desert was mostly just flat with the occasional Bedouin tent and herd of sheep and goats.

 

   
Nelly in the Valley of Tombs Photo 564


Palmyra was amazing. The city has been pieced back together enough to get an impression of the grandeur without too much over interpretation. There is an amazing castle overlooking the place and the valley of tombs where we spent the night. It felt weird to be camped inside the biggest tourist attraction in Syria. In some ways it was more impressive than the ruins at Ephes as you can clearly see how it was originally as there are no trees or bushes covering anything, just sand and a few short palms.


Remains Photo 515
     


Photo 551 castle at sunset


Photo 546 Palmyra from the castle

From there we went southwest to Damascus, the nice bypass shown on the map didn't seem to exist but the signs for Jordan all through the city were nice and clear. We then headed south to the border with Jordan after a night spent in a very muddy olive grove.

All the Syrian people we met were very friendly. They all said "you are welcome in Syria" and most spoke a little bit of English and some of the older people spoke almost fluent French. The first time we have used French on our journey really.

We spent a week in Syria and spent a total of 4.30 on food for both of us, petrol was about 30p/litre and was a government standardised price countrywide. The only downside was the weather. We had a thunderstorm as we were driving through the desert, only a small one and the mist stopped the views from the mountains, but I wouldn't like to do the drive to Palmyra in the summer, the heat on the road would be disastrous.

     
     
 
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