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 the restaurant and hotel smoking apple shesha till midnight. The shesha was probably the best I have had on this trip and Amy, Tash, Fred and I shared some laughs for the hundredth time on this trip.
In the morning after a simple breakfast we walked over to the Palmyra ruins it was a very short walk from the town and we were
you will find amazing detail at the top of every spire.
fortunate to have an excellent guide. Now that we are well into the third week of the trip I admit some of the ruins and thousand year old sights and inscriptions start to blend together but the sheer mass of Palmyra was impressive and getting to see the temple of Baal was a highlight of my stop in Palmyra. After the Ruins and temple some of us broke off and explored the museum of Palmyra which was not very big but was quite fascinating and was full of many old artifacts all recovered from the ancient ruins in Palmyra.
Krak Des Chevaliers
It was another four hour drive to the Krak Des Chevaliers the drive itself was breathtaking even though we were cramped in a small rickety old bus. Our hotel had the most ideal location possible overlooking the castle, in fact our hotel room had a set of bay windows overlooking the castle. This night was Gem our tour leaders' birthday and Amy brought some cup cakes and a candle so right before dinner we sang him happy birthday. Stacey and Tash were very tired and went to bed early but Amy, Fred and I stayed
I am constantly amazed at aqueducts in ancient societies here is an example.
up with Gem for a free beers but we did not stay up late or drink too much because we have a long day exploring the massive castle starting early in the morning.
In the morning we woke up at seven am and after a quick breakfast we walked over to the Krak Des Chevaliers to meet up with our guide. This was my first time being in a castle from the crusades and this castle was massive housing 4000 troops, 200 knights of the round table, and Richard the Lionhearted during the crusades. An interesting note is that with over 4000 men living in the castle there were zero woman allowed in the fort due to the fact the knights of the round table were monks and celibate. Three countries tried to conquer the castle but a combination of trained solders, magnificent defenses, and smart tactics by Richard stopped all direct attacks. Eventually after King Richard had left the Krak the castle had to be abandoned not because of a direct attack but because of a blockade setup by their enemies blocking all food from reaching the castle and the solders eventually had to leave or starve.
just a picture to try and show the scope of the ruins although it doesn't do a good job.
I feel like I am over using adjectives to describe all of the sites I have seen so far on this trip but I do not think I can really can do justice to how i felt as our guide describe all of the ways anyone attacking the castle would be attacked, and how terrible it would have been to live in that time and been forced to siege such a impenetrable fortress.
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