You are currently browsing the daily archive for November 19, 2009.

I had food poisoning the night before we left Aleppo so was still feeling rough yesterday after being up most of the night.

En-route to Damascus we followed the road east out of Aleppo towards Iraq and spent the night outside the castle ruins of Qala’at Ja’abar, which overlooks the turquoise Lake Al-Assad. The Euphrates river flows into the lake and then heads onwards into Iraq where it meets the Tigris.

Very strong winds came in the night and continued untill after we left in the morning. Not only that, but we normally get a group of cats or dogs at every camp stop and tonight we had dogs. One of Bun’s shoes wasn’t where she left it the night before – a dog had run off with it. The missing shoe turned up ok!

We didn’t view the castle early the following day, but headed straight onto Palmyra. After stopping for lunch in Deir ez-Zur, we drove for the next few hours down an amazing scenic route to Palmyra. It was an amazing desert landscape. We chased the sun towards the famous site before we set up camp in the grounds of the Zenobia hotel which overlooks the ruins. We spent the night having a few drinks and playing backgammon after finally buying a set in the souk in Aleppo.

When you enter Syria there is a weekly diesel tax of $100 which is soon made back by the cheap fuel. No logos and poor signage make the fuel stations hard to recognise. We aren’t  complaining as the fuel is only 30 pence per litre.

Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, is seen everywhere, from stickers in the backs of cars and taxis, to huge framed pictures in restaurants and on the streets of all the towns. He is sometimes portrayed in military uniform and at other times in a suit, but I get the impression he is well liked in Syria.

The lorries look like they have just returned from long journies from Iran or Pakistan. The dust covering the brightly painted trucks glow neon at night and carry huge loads.

We are in Palmyra for a few days before heading to Damascus via Hims.

November 2009