If you read only one book before you head off for the Middle East, make it this one, William Dalrymple's "From the Holy Mountain". It will take you on a wonderful journey from Turkey to Egypt, via Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Witty, wise and erudite, it is an absorbing read from a writer who knows and understands so much about the region.
This was the book that started me off on my travels to Syria, and I recommend it to anyone who has an interest, not only in the history and modern-day life of the region, but also anyone who simply loves a good read.
Be careful -like me you may become hooked.
People visiting Syria should see the historical attractions in the old city area of Damascus.......people should explore the old narrow streets of Old Damascus......visit the restaurants that used to be old arabic houses, now converted to restaurants..... visit the bazaars........just experience the culture of this country.......
Fondest memory: My fondest memory is the ability to experience a totally different culture in a very comforting environment......I enjoyed many things. Most importantly of course are the historical attractions in Damascus ( I didnt have chance to visit the various other historical areas in syria.....I will save that for next visit). I enjoyed just walking around, taking everything in........I miss the little park area near my hotel.....one evening , I went there to sit on the bench there at night......it was quiet and there was cool breeze.......it was my last night before I left. It was a pleasant country to travel around by myself.
Summer days can be very hot in Syria. How refreshing isn't it then to take a swim in the Mediterranean!
The only beach I visited in Syria is at Cote d'Azur de Cham. The entrance fee is 250 SP and you will then have access to the nice beach the whole day.
There are sun beds for everyone to use (but they all might be taken already when you arrive).
At Cote d'Azur de Cham there are jet skis and motorboats for hire, but you are only allowed to drive them outside the rope.
Swimming is safe inside the protected area.
This side of Syria I did not see last time I was here. It is so different from the more conservative areas.
Favorite thing: Getting up at dawn, or just before if you can manage it, and walking in the ruins as the days breaks, is a magic thing to do in Palmyra. The stone of the ruins, palest cream in the pre-sunrise light, is briefly flushed a delicate rose-pink as the sun rises and then moves back to cream in the early sunlight. As the day progresses, the colours continue to change, moving through all shades of cream as the light intensifies until they are finally golden in the sunset.
Favorite thing: It was the first visit to As’Suwaidaa, and I really enjoyed my time there with my friend Haiyan a member on VT (dionisyas). I would like to thank you very much my dearest friend for the help you gave me and you really have a great family, please send my love to your mother and father and special regards to Marwan. Good luck to you in your final examinations.
At many of the ancient sites and castles there has been a lot of reconstructionwork. For example on the tetrapylon (in Palmyra) to the left only one of the pillars are of the original granite, the rest are badly done in coloured concrete.
Well, there are both pros and cons with the reconstructions. And I must say that in this case I like seeing the big cornice up on the pillars as it once was rather than lying on the ground.
To see Palmyra in the best light you should be there early, at sunrise. You will probably have the whole sight to yourself for a while and there will be time for you to explore the ruins before it becomes too hot at midday.
I went out to the sight at 5.30 but didn't go all way first as there were two barking dogs between me and the ruins. I waited a while until a few people came by on their way to work. I didn't see any dogs after that.
On a hill above the ruins in Palmyra there is an Arab Castle. This is a nice place to go to for sunset. It is not difficult to climb the hill (but don't take the steepest path up or down). From top of the castle you will have a great view over the ruins, the town and oasis.
Admission to the castle is 150 SP.
we made a trip from belgium,where we lived in 1995,to israel,through italy,greece,turkey,syria and jordan....
a trip,which can't be done,TODAY!
Fondest memory: succeeding in keeping things secret...to avoid and get round syrian customs prohibitions about a travel to/from israel!
My best memory from Syria is absolutly whene I stayed with a family in the village Abtin, 50 km south of Aleppo.
I met the family and their friends outside the citadel in Aleppo. They found someone who could translate for them. One of them spoke a few worlds English and I speak very few words of Arabic. But they were all very nice and I went with them to their village to stay over the night.
In Abtin there are both muddhouses and stonehouses and cultivated fields around the village.
We ate a lot of delisious food and drank tea.
If you get an invitation and feel confortable accept the invitation. You will meet really nice people and it is defenitly the best way to see a country.
What I call the deep north is the area around Aleppo... rocky, barren, isolated. The landscape was somewhat familiar... nearly pre-alpine and hillish. It's the home of the famous abandoned bizantine cities now known as "dead cities", as well as, further up north, as the border area between Turkey and Syria. Prestigious unexpected landscapes...
Fondest memory: About this area, the fondest memory is the mist... engulfing all when least expected. There's very much desolation and isolation up here - which is very fascinating as it looks so very remote and time-forgotten, while in reality a modern city is only about 30 minutes away.
The Orontes river valley is a very fertile area that surrounds the towns of Homs and Hama. It's home to many cultivatins - among them olives... you really can see olive groves stretching as far as your eye can stretch.
Fondest memory: About this area, I fondly remember these olive trees, planted just about anywhere... and with a few houses or ruins scattered in between. I also like the contrast of colours... especially the white-ish "thing" places around them. It looked like sand - ro some sort of fertilizer - but I never found out for sure.
Mountains - the ones I saw - were particularly located towards the border with Lebanon. The ones in the picture belong to the Anti-Lebanon range. They're not very high, but high enough to be covered in snow in winter... i saw white patches in several places.
Fondest memory: the contrast between the rocky and unpassable faces of the mountains, and the very reddish ground that emerged wherever there was no rock. fertile mountain soil, which isn't always a common sight.
The desert occupies a very large portion of Syria, and I'm embarassed to admit I've visited only a very limited part of it - the one near Palmyra. It's not a sandy desert, but a stony one - so it's a desert that stands still - unchanged - unbothered.
Fondest memory: More than the desert, its the people of the desert - so much different from all other people, and so very warm and welcoming. Even if living in towns the tradition of hospitality has not been lost - everywhere else in Syria you'll meet welcoming kind people, but it's in and near the desert that their hospitality will touch your heart.
the cities... well, they are not that many - although the mojor ones (Damascus and Aleppo) are truly spectacular - although very different from each other. Homs and Hama sort of belong to the cities list, but they are of no particular interest (except for the area nearby them)
Fondest memory: the cities are the place to go people watching and see Syria parading before your eyes: women in ultra-short miniskirts, others completely covered with their abbaya, others again have a scarf thrown all over their face as a sort of a native burka... and another one, my very favourite, was a woman in black stilettos, tight-fitting bright green leather trousers, and a dark hijab. Definitely a land of contrasts.
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