Saturday, 31 May 2008

First Day Tour in Syria

Hi from Clare,

Photo 1 Krak Des Chevaliers (Crusader Fortress) Photo 2 Lunch in the Bedouin Tent Photo 3 Ancient City of Palmyra Photo 4 Restaurant (Arabian Palace) Photo 5 Landscape showing trees on slant.

We have been pretty busy for the past few days touring Syria. We arrived here Wednesday afternoon after a slow trip averaging 4.5 knots due to a 1.5 knot current running against us. We took turns on watch overnight which allowed all of us to get some sleep. Any apprehension we may have had about entering Syrian waters was quickly put to rest by the Coast Guard. As we approached Lattakia Syria they welcomed us on the radio and one coast guard boat sounded its horn to welcome each of the 80 EMYR yachts as they entered the harbour.

After a customary welcome dinner on Tuesday night with dancing and entertainment we set off Wednesday morning on the first of 4 days touring. Just briefly, on day one we say a Crusader fortress built in 1170AD (it was in excellent condition and at 2300 feet above sea level it was never taken by force) Then the ancient site of Palmyra situated in the middle of the Syrian dessert and dating back 2000BC (it was the shopping place of caravans coming from Arabian to Mediterranean lands taking the silk route). We had lunch in a Bedouin tent with live music and camels parked out the front. We traveled to Damascus (one of the oldest cities in the world with a community dating back to 2000 BC)and checked into a five start hotel. Andrew and I then continued on to a Gala Dinner at an exclusive restaurant decorated like an Arabian Palace. We were entertained by a full stage performance of Arabian dancers plus a manned flying carpet which flew across the top of the dinner tables. Pat and Ron opted to stay at the hotel (we had started the day at 7.30am, traveled 600k in the coach and tramped around in the heat)so they had a cool beer and a light meal in the paino bar, then a bath and into bed by 10pm. We got back to the hotel around 11pm.

We saw a lot of the Syrian desert today, bedouin and gypsy settlements. Children waved happily as our busses passed by. The Muslim woman were all fully covered. A huge number wore black and some poor souls were totally covered, not an inch of flesh to be seen. I can't understand why they would wear black in such a hot environment, they must have been roasting. The landscape today was dry, hot, dusty and flat. It is obviously windy at times as the only trees to been seen were all slanting in the same direction. We had a great day and the sites we visited were very impressive. We are looking forward to tomorrow and more adventures.

love CANDY

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