Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A journey to Palmyra

We could have done with a rest day, but museums close on Tuseday, so in order not to miss the museums and sites of Palmyra we decided to go out with Abdul again, east across the desert to the old Silk Road trading post of Palmyra. Here one finds a very large site of impressive remains, from the 3rd and 4th century and earlier, including a very large temple complex, originally dedicated to Baal, and no doubt turned into a temple for Roman, Christian and Islam gods. Also, another blong street of columns, tower tombs, Roman ampitheatre, houses, baths and Diocletian's military camp. All set in the desert with atmospheric hills and an old castle as background. Beautiful..... at least when looking outwards towards the south.
Towards the north there is a town, built up since the site became popular in the 1850's and later. Being one of the top attractions in Syria, means that the tourist industry has developed in one of its worst guises, with over-priced cafes and restuarants, selling bedouin food, cheap hotels, ugly development and annoying children pestering one to buy postcards. Also, came across complaining Dutch boys who when offered a free drink, did niot choose the standard tea or coffee, but a milk-shake, followed by a Belgian of a bout 50, who had come over in a jeep and casked for a discount on his liunch due to him being in possession (of what was obviously a fake studnet card). Urghhh!!! We were glad we hadn't decided to spend the night there and it showed us just how lucky we have been to have most of the other sites we have visited, virtually void of other people.
The museum in Palmyra was wonderful... not too many objects but all very well presented. The objects were mostly very well preserved, including some very fine sarcophagi, colourful necklaces from 2,000 yeras ago, silks and cottons, from the same period, little glass bottles (where wives would empty the tears they shed when their husbands died) and so on.
Walking around the ruins in the heat of teh afternoon sun, albeit with a welcome breeze, we had teh site again virtually to ourselves, while others waited until later to come out. We were met by a charming young man on a camel, Mohammed, who did his best to get us to take a ride on his camels. Of course I was up for it, Fred less so, so we split and I was carried a good distance past all the columns. Was fun... and a very beautiful white camel too.

On the way there, we stopped off at a bedouin sheep market which was being held in Samaliyeh - me tapping Abdul on the shoulder and getting very excited at being in such close proximity to so many bedouins and their sheep (and goats). On the way back, another stop along the side of the road, to chat to some shepherds and take more pictures. We were again invited in for tea, but Abdul wanted to bring us to Qalaat Al Shamamis (Weathertop), so that Fred could see the sunset there. Fair enough, and after a climb up the steep chalky hillside we made it in time to see the sun setting over the hills.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi guys,
Jullie gaan nog steeds lekker he!
Het is niet te geloven, wat jullie al gezien hebben. Een beetje uitrusten op het strand in Libanon is zo gek nog niet.
Vergeet je de herhalingsprikken niet?
Liefs, Bram en Mar

03 August, 2005 11:56  

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