Palmyra & Crac de Chevalier
Sunday 7th June 2010
Up at the crack of dawn for an excellent buffet breakfast at the hotel before checking out and boarding the coaches for the very long drive through dusty desert landscape to Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the ruins of a great city that was already an established oasis caravan city when taken over by the Romans in the first century AD. On the way we stopped at the ‘Bagdad Cafe’, an unusual building stuck out in the middle of nowhere. Facilities were, as might be expected, basic.
The Bagdad Cafe Power systems for the cafe – wind vane and generator.
Another hour of driving through desert landscape was rewarded with a ‘Wow’ moment as the monumental remains of Palmyra came into view. The grand colonnaded main street, 1100 metres long, is still to be seen, and is actually quite breathtaking.
The colonnaded main street.
It was very interesting to see, and we walked a lot of the site, but by this time it was near midday and the sun was relentless. We managed to find a shady spot from time to time to take a breather, but the hawkers soon found us in their quest to sell us their wares.
Taking a breather in a shady spot. This young salesman appeared as soon as the coach door opened.
We returned to the coaches for a short trip to our lunch stop, and then we were on our way again across the desert towards the coast and the ancient Crusader castle of Crac de Chevaliers, one of the most important preserved medieval castles in the world and another UNESCO World Heritage site. The castle stands atop a hill with commanding views of the surrounding countryside.
Crac de Chevalier The view across the hills from the top.
Inside Crac de Chevalier Gothic ceilings in part of the castle.
Another interesting and worthwhile visit, and then we were back on the coach for the long drive back to the boat. When we arrived back at the harbour, we discovered that things had been a little lively, with strong cross winds blowing the crowded rally boats against each other, and a swell making them dance around and bounce off each other, causing damage to some of the boats. We were lucky that we didn’t have any noticeable damage, but wonder what we might find when next we check below the water line, as anchor chains have been pulling and scraping against the hull. Fingers crossed it’s all ok down there.