Shwarma, rooftops and Smarties

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Middle East » Syria
May 8th 2006
Published: May 22nd 2006
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Palmyra ruinsPalmyra ruinsPalmyra ruins

Seen from the fort
Syria was a big change of the scenario. It was the first very cheap country we have been. It was also the first we felt the corruption besides Brazil of course. At the border as we presented our passports with the visas to the immigration officer but he kept looking to the horizon pretending we weren't there. A few minutes later the driver of our bus told us to give him some bribe otherwise he wouldn't stamp our passport. As we put some money inside the passport it was like inserting a token in a jukebox: He started working at once!
In Aleppo the 6 of us stayed in the rooftop of a hostel. This was new for us too. Until here we have always slept in proper beds, proper rooms. The upside of this new modality is the price. To sleep there it would cost less than 2 dollars. We couldn't believe, less than 2 dollars!! The downside is not having a roof, but in the desert doesn't rain anyway.
After the bus ride we were hungry. We left the hostel to find a restaurant, just around the corner was a traditional shwarma place. Nothing touristic, really for the locals.
The fortThe fortThe fort

Seen from the Palmyra ruins
We were still puzzled with the new currency and struggling to understand the Arabic language. We bought the traditional sandwich, in a very confusing way, giving whatever bill the guy took from our hands and accepting whatever change he gave us. When we counted the money and discovered the price of the meal, we were delighted. Only 40 cents of dollar per meal. We didn't think twice, bought another round straight away!
We could never think a meal could be so cheap. This started putting new ideas in our heads. We had planned to travel for two years considering the Eastern European prices, but if things keep like this, we will be able to extend our trip!
The kept together moving from place to place. We visited ruins of an ancient street, a castle from the crusades era, ancient water wheels. Half way south we turned to the east, direct into the desert. Palmyra was our destination. On the way there we were impressed by the number of military check points and all the artillery they had in the desert. Why should they be so worried about securing this piece of desert? Few kilometers further we saw the answer:
Water weelsWater weelsWater weels

Ancient technic to pump water into the canals.
We were less than 300 km from Baghdad.
Palmyra is one oasis in the Syrian desert and contains the monumental ruins of a city that was one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world. Besides the ruins Palmyra has a big castle on top of a hill. The castle is a must go for the sunset.
By the time we arrived in Damascus Fernando started with a endless desire for M&M's / Smarties or anything similar to small chocolate chips. In one of our trip inside the old town we discovered a small shop selling only this. You could by only per kilo and the price was minimum. Rebeka and Claudio bought a whole kilo and gave to Fernando. After that he never asked for more of it.
After Damascus the would split. We wanted to go to Lebanon and the others to Jordan. Rebbekka decided to join us.

Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9



Picture taken from the temple of Nabu, Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, in palmira looking at the castle over the hill.

Syria's new generation
Roof topRoof top
Roof top

Cheapest accommodation ever!

Near Crac de Chevalier, this ruins are found in the middle of green pastures.
Crac de ChevalierCrac de Chevalier
Crac de Chevalier

A castle just like in fairy tales.

Intruding in Fernando's picture.

21st June 2006

Oh look, the God of Wisdom at his posing bet. YOU'D have looked better if your brother wasn't trying to be so creative though. hehehe It was a good day though...

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