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Click to see detail of route in map

This young boy is visiting from Saudi, just a short hop and a skip from Bosra.



The most interesting part of the city today is the famous Roman theater built in the second century AD, which seats 15 thousand spectators, and is considered one of the most beautiful and well-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world...

Bosra's temple ruins...

...and city walls.




Halfway house in the desert, on the way to PalmyraThrough the desert......and into Palmyra...

The main gate in Palmyra...

...the centre square....

...and the Theatre.


Palmyra fell to the Muslims in 634 AD and was destroyed by an earthquake in 1089 AD


The tombs


Kids miss school to catch the tourist trade...


I am with the chef of a local new restaurant, I showed him how to make an omelet for the foreigners to help him drum up his breaky trade.


Friends, Roy and Michelle from Brazil, traveling in a well equipped Land rover visited Palmyra at the same time as us – at last our paths had crossed and we spent a day catching up.


Heading east into nothing but sand ....

... sand ...
...and more sand.


 

 


Syria

Part 2

We thought our decision to cross from Jordan into Syria on a Friday would mean less congestion at the Nasib/Jabor border. Remember Friday is a Holy Day here for the Muslims and we thought they would all be at the Mosque or taking it easy. Wrong. It seemed every Jordanian and Syrian took advantage of the day off to visit each other's country and the border crossing was bedlam. As usual the officials were rude and after waiting in the foreign passport line for over half an hour, the official gestured, without even looking at us, to move over into the line designated for foreign diplomats. There we were expected to include some cash with our passports, buckshee's (bribe money), but declined and when others were getting processed ahead of ours we decided we should explain our frustration... in no uncertain terms. Even customs and immigration officials can be shocked by what western visitors can say when provoked. Suffice to say we were able to motivate them into action. The squeaky wheel... and all that sort of thing.

We also needed to renew our bike insurance before we re-entered Syria and again they tried to con us. The charges were clearly displayed in Syrian Pounds, but the insurance guy insisted he could only accept Euros or US Dollars. We didn't have any Euros or Dollars but they were happy to change Syrian Pounds at a diabolical exchange rate. This time Dianne felt she should 'explain' that we were not going to change Syrian Pounds into Euros or Dollars and that they ought to become more co-operative and quickly else she may release more fire and brimstone on them. Funny how sometimes people can seem to understand exactly what you mean even though they can't speak a word of English. Needless to say we got our insurance and paid for it in Syrian Pounds. Even the customs wanted some bribe money to process the bike papers, strange, to date we had not come across this much corruption.

Feeling somewhat buoyed by our success but frustrated by the delays we rode into Syria and headed for Bosra, an ancient black basalt town and site of a huge and well preserved Roman theatre. Dianne assumed that this place would have a choice of accommodation as it is quite well known on the tourist circuit, but there is only one hotel in town and it is upmarket and really expensive. What to do? Well we rode into the main square and an enterprising young man invited us to stay in a spare room at the back of his restaurant. Not the most comfortable accommodation suffice to say that it was modest, quite grubby with no facilities and we slept on a thin matrice on the floor.


We manoeuvred Jack into the main area of the restaurant and we were locked in, home sweet home for the night.

Bosra is an extremely ancient city dating back to the fourteenth century BC. an important trading centre on the crossroads of several caravan routes.
There are a great number of Roman ruins here so we were up bright and early in the morning, again to beat the heat, and a walk around the rest of the city. In the early morning quietness it all had an airy feeling, locals still indoors and living amongst the ancient crumbling walls.


Within the city ancient black assault walls have been white washed and are still inhabited.


As we headed north we passed several huge mansions, evidence of the wealth of some of the Syrian people.Then it was north on to Suweida and Shaba past Damascus and Al-Buseiri heading west on the way to Palmyra, another famous Roman city built at the silk crossroads between east and west and a centre of trade. Palmyra was a caravan city for over one thousand years originally administrated by the Greeks but taken over by the Romans in 217 AD when it became an extremely wealthy centre under their rule. It was visited by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 129 AD and ruled by Zenobia, an Ambitious Queen rumoured to have killed her husband.


Palmyra is 243 km north-east of Damascus, and we have left Syria’s most famous tourist attraction to the last. Situated at an oasis in the desert, this ruined city is at a considerable distance from any other water source. The ruins have been extensively excavated and painstakingly restored. Initially we were feeling a bit over Roman ruins and quite happy to sit in our little room to wait out a sand storm in the first couple of days.
Cars that have come in the town from Saudi are covered with a coat of special paint for protection against frequent sand storms.

On the third day, with the air still thick with sand particles, we ventured off to visit the "bride of the desert" and realised Palmyra is far more than just another Roman City. The shapes of the arches, columns, temples and statues against in the stark desert scenery takes on an attitude and you are part of a story. Walking down the streets is an experience, which alone, makes a trip to Syria worthwhile.


We rode Jack along the ancient main colonnaded street, parked under an arch on the corner of a cross road and tried to imagine chariots racing down the same path.

An encounter with an Arab and his favourite young albino camel...
well groomed...
and very affectionate!

Caring for our camel.


In Palmyra I had made several enquiries about the road through desert communities. On our map there was a road that cut across to the Euphrates River but it was shown as just a dirt track –"Oh no it is now finished and had a good black top" several people ensured me. In the scene below you will notice Haydn is doing it on his own, even in the heat I felt better on my own two feet through many km's of sand – just a dirt track.


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The effort was definitely worth while though, we were able to pass through remote desert communities – another unexpected and very different experience. We were always greeted with smiling friendly faces though it is hard to imagine what a strange sight we must've been as we passed by.




The unique desert communities and friendly people...



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The Euphrates River at last, time to cool down!

In Aleppo we went to the Mosque and again enjoyed just watching the people hurrying to afternoon prayers, the women to their section and the men to theirs

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What a memorable journey through Syria. Just a short ride now, due east of Aleppo, and we are at the border with Turkey again, near Rayhanli in the Hatay Province.

Click on Next page below to continue our journey through Turkey.

Click here to go to the start of our journey through Syria.

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©Haydn and Dianne Durnell 2008