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Published: April 6th 2010
So here I am in Libya!
It's certainly different to anywhere else I've been but also strangely familiar. In appearance I would compare it to some of the Gulf capitals although obviously not Dubai. Possibly more like Abu Dhabi or Muscat 10 years ago. That's not much help if you've not visited either of those is it? OK, mostly low rise, some concrete blocks of apartments, lots of mad traffic. All the cars are Japanese and fairly beaten up. There is an old market right in the centre which has been partly renovated and in any other Middle Eastern capital would be thronged with tourists. Here it was more common to be the only western face in the crowd. The tradesmen are not pushy at all, in fact the exact opposite of next door neighbour Egypt. That makes browsing and shopping an unusually easy experience. Almost without exception, the locals are polite and helpful.
The airport was pretty chaotic when we arrived but again, you have to expect that. Bureaucracy rules! But after getting our passports stamped we were soon through to meet our tour guide, Nasser. He took us to our hotel then arranged to meet for an
evening meal at 7:30. To pass the time, three of us went for a wander to the market and found a nice coffee shop alongside the old clock tower.
Next morning was an early start for a tour of the city museum. Might sound a bit boring but they have a fabulous collection of antiquities from the main archaeological sites. One of the highlights is the mosaics from some Roman villas and I'll try to post some photos later. I also expect w'll see some others at the sites we visit during the week. The other amazing thing about the museum was the total lack of visitors (ok, not quite total - but just us!)
In the afternoon we drove to the mountains and reached our so called cave dwellings at about 7. Quite a long way in a 20 seat Mitsubishi coach over dodgy roads so were all knackered and glad to arrive. The home cooked dinner was delicious: fresh bread, rice, roast peppers, grilled lamb. Sleeping arrangemnts were basic! The rooms are partly underground although I don't think these are completely authentic. They are hewn out of the (soft) rock then plattered - no windows ands
all very irregular shapes and sizes. However, they are cool in the daytime and cosy at night. Washing facilities all communal but better than the Laos experience!
Today was lots more driving followed by an afternoon flight across to Benghazi but I'm out of time so more details next time I get a connection.
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