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Published: April 6th 2009
On Thursday morning, we got up early to head to Crac de Chavelliers, which is a really interesting site a couple of hours from Hama. We ate breakfast at the hotel, but should have known better, because Ibrahim stopped at this roadside stand with a circular pit oven, where two women were making extremely good breakfast sandwiches. We were stuffed, but have learned the hard way that syrians will not take no for an answer when it comes to offering food. And more food, and more food... reminds me a lot of my Italian relatives. 😊 We got to see how the women made the sandwiches in this circular stone oven, putting the dough right on the sides of the interior with a big splat.
Then we headed up to Crac, which sits high on a mountain in an area that is now a mixed Christian and Muslim community. The castle was first built by Kurdish soldiers, who created a fairly small portion of the final structure in the 1100s. Then about 100 years later, the Crusaders came along and built an enormous castle for 4,000 soldiers and 400 knights, from England, Italy, Germany and France (the French soldiers brought
lotus flowers to cover up bad smells, we were told). After that, Arabs conquered the crusader castle and built a fortified wall around the moat, further expanding the structure. It was pretty fascinating and fun to explore - and we learned all kinds of interesting facts including that "burning hot defense oil" was used as a second line of defense at all the doors. But our tour guide said the phrase really quickly and many times, so "burninghotdefenseoil" is now our phrase of choice when we want to laugh.
After Crac, we decided to head back to Hama for another night, rather than getting on a bus to Palmyra, because we were pretty tired. So we chilled out in lazy Hama, as Ryan started calling it, and had another nice evening walking around and people-watching before turning in early.
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