Blogs from East, Syria, Middle East


Middle East » Syria » East » Palmyra April 18th 2011

Dear All Greetings from the Syrian Desert! Currently in the town of Palmyra, Syria’s star tourist attraction, and a rather touristy little town it is – more reminiscent of Thailand’s backpacker hotspots, with pancake houses and touts by the bucketload – seems a bit strange for Syria, but actually rather welcome to be back on the tourist track again particularly at this time. Last I wrote, I was just about to leave beautiful Aleppo, and a not-so-beautiful hotel room, taking a 4 hour bus trip eastwards towards the capital of the Syrian desert, Deir es-Zur. A journey of stark contrasts – starting off leaving civilization and verdant hills, and travelling through such a barren and inhospitable-looking landscape which is the Syrian desert. I felt thirsty just looking out of the bus window, from the comfort of ... read more
Sun through the Sandstorm
Journey in the Desert
Bridge over the Euphrates River

Middle East » Syria » East » Palmyra April 5th 2011

Palmyra On our last day in Damascus almost all signs of the demonstrations the day before were gone and the city seemed to be back to normal. I would find out later that demonstrations and unrest have been continuing in Syria but I never did see anything from the people of Syria that would show any anger towards their president they seemed to be protesting against the security forces and some members of hardliners still in power from when his father was president. After one final morning in Damascus we left in the afternoon for Palmyra and checked out the sunset from the Arab citadel before another excellent dinner where the Mezza (appetizers) are so good that when the main dish came out most of us were fully stuffed. That night we decided to drink at ... read more
Amazing detail

Middle East » Syria » East » Palmyra December 30th 2010

I could copy you the full guide book, but I simply won't. If you need a full historical guide tour of Palmyra, I invite you to google it or purchase a guide book. Let me share with you the great day we had exploring Palmyra. In order to make sure none of us stay too ignorant, here are few historical info. Palmyra lies 250km North-East of Damascus, and is around less than 100km from Iraq. It is basically in the middle of nowhere, or should I say right in the middle of a huge desert. So why is Palmyra so important...well,! The city has been a huge trading post for centuries, seeing a huge growth juste around 1st and 2nd AD, thanks to the Roman Empire. The city grew in importance till the arrival of ... read more
The Great Colonnade
our guide...I mean, Leslie and the book!
Funerary Temple and Qala'at ibn maan

Middle East » Syria » East August 8th 2010

Everything I'd read about the Dead Cities said go there at sunset or sunrise, or better yet, go in the winter when the mists rise and experience the full effect of just how eerie cities that were abandoned over 1500 years ago can be....I left Rob in Hama with a stomach bug for company and set off... I, of course, got there at midday - madness in that heat, and not too surprisngly, I was there alone. The taxi driver was hiding in his car, somewhere in the shade. Battering heat, a vicious sun and utter stillness were eerie enough for me, with no sounds other than the ones I was making - far too evocative and spooky, if anything.... Aleppo: Was here only for a few hours, although I had originally planned to stay for ... read more
Dead Cities : Al Bara
Al Bari
Pyramid roof at Al Bari

Middle East » Syria » East » Palmyra June 8th 2010

It was a serious trek to get from Baalbek to Palmyra: one minibus to Beirut, another one from Beirut to Homs then finally Homs to Palmyra. Also throw in the fun of crossing the Syrian border and the fact the engine of the second minibus effectively exploded so we were towed for a few hours! The bus driver was great though kept loudly shouting in Arabic at the border staff, got me through in no time. Palmyra is Syria’s main tourist attraction, and guess what it’s more Roman ruins! It was an important city on the Silk Route and benefited greatly from rerouted trade routes after Petra was captured by the Romans. The city was left generally abandoned and hidden under a layer or sand for over a thousand years. It wasn’t until the 1920s that ... read more
View from hill
Sunset 2


Middle East » Syria » East » Palmyra May 29th 2010

Wczoraj musialam sie ewakuowac, wiec przepraszam za wszelkie bledy i literowki we wpisie. Wszystkiemu winien byl poznany przez nas Beduin. W ciagu dnia, gdy zwiedzalismy ruiny Palmiry, zaczal zapraszac nas na przejazdzke wielbladem. Zdecydowanie odmowilismy, ale od slowa do slowa, okazalo sie, ze ma zone Polke - Edyte. Opowiedzial, jak ona przyjechala 7 lat temu do Syrii i poznali sie na wielbladzie. Jak ona teraz uczy tu angielskiego, a on ma wielbladzi biznes. Ma piec wielbladow, szostego na czarno, robi 30 tysiecy euro rocznie. I ze moze bysmy chcieli przejazdzke wielbladami o wschodzie slonca. Poniewaz i tak byl plan, zeby zwiedzac Palmire jeszcze rano, przystalismy na jego porpozycje, a po chwili targowania do ceny o polowe nizszej niz wywolawcza, dodal jeszcze zaproszenie na herbatke u siebie w domu po przejazdzce. Potem spotkalismy go jeszcze kilka razy ... read more
Palmira. 5.45 a.m.
U Edyty w domu.
Obkurzone daktyle.

Middle East » Syria » East » Palmyra May 29th 2010

Z Damaszku do Palmiry wyjechalismy wczoraj rano lokalnym autobusem. Kolo stacji ulokowaly sie warsztaty samochodowe, ktore sprzedawaly tyly badz przody samochodow - cos, co - mam wrazenie - u nas jest nie do pomyslenia i generalnie zabronione. Tutaj natomiast mozna stworzyc hybryde, kupujac tyl peugota i przod nissana. Droga z miasta usiana byla po obydwu stronach tonami smieci, a potem - gdy skonczyly sie zabudowania mieszkalne - zaczela sie bura pustynia. Monotonie przerywaly tylko znaki wskazujace, ile kilometrow do Iraku. Na miejscu rzucaja sie przyjezdnych taksowkarze. Oferuja transport do hotelu za 1 euro ale to tylko przyneta, bo licza, ze jak zlapia takiego turyste, to juz bedzie z nim caly dzien podrozowal, a potem cena zalezy juz tylko od zdolnosci negocjacyjnych stron. Miasto slynie z ogromnych, wspaniale zachowanych wykopalisk, ktore sa ulokowane na tak duzej przestrzeni, ... read more
Klucze do starozytnych grobowcow.
Owocki sprzed 2000 lat.

Middle East » Syria » East » Palmyra May 19th 2010

Catching the bus to Palmyra offered views of dust, rocks and more dust. I wondered who on earth would want to plonk a city down in this dustbowl and wondered what were the Romans thinking. My thoughts hadn't changed once we arrived as we were dropped at some wind blown outpost, just a road, a shed and a couple of annoying taxi drivers, with no signage at all saying we were in Palmyra. Thankfully though, things picked up once we got into the main part of town. Our humble hotel was cute and comfortable, and most importantly, had clean sheets and did not smell like sewage (always good). For dinner that night we headed to an eatery down the road. I asked for a menu and the first thing the owner said back was “Are you ... read more
So many columns
Two funny Arabs
The Arabic Castle

Middle East » Syria » East » Dayr az Zawr May 9th 2010

We rolled into Palmyra (in the Eastern deserts of Syria) in the hottest hour of the day and promptly learned what desert heat really means! It was likely around 35-40 degrees, but felt even hotter with no wind... After hiding in the shade for an hour or so sipping on some fresh pressed orange juice and snacking on some yummy Mensaf (lamb on rice with nuts and yoghurt) and camel meat, we decided to hit up the 1st and 2nd century AD Roman ruins nearby. The ruins themselves were pretty impressive, but more impressive was the sunset from the nearby hilltop Qala'at ibn Maan, first shedding the warm light over the red stone ruins, and then setting over the hills in the desert to the west. I don't know, after seeing so many different types of ... read more

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