in our guidebook, it said that if you see only one thing in syria, it should be the ruins of palmyra. the ruins were only a little way from the center of town, and we walked about checking them out. as far as ruins go, they were actually quite impressive. a pretty cool walkway with massive columns on either side, a gigantic temple (the temple of bel), and several other remains of buildings etc. if this had been our first day in syria, we probably would have had an incredible time… but to be completely honest, we may have seen a bit too much of ruins. as i snapped away w/ my camera, i wondered just how many photos of columns i had by now. probably tons! as we walked through the ruins, we kept having little kids come up to us and try to sell us anything from postcards, to camel rides, to the scarves that many syrians wear.
after the ruins, we caught a bus to damascus. caryn told me later, that while i slept we passed a road sign indicating that iraq was 150 km to the east. pretty crazy that we’re so close to iraq right now. and actually, we were driving westward when she saw the sign, so when we were in palmyra, we were much much closer. anyways, as we first neared damascus, the first thing i noticed was the car dealerships. tons of them on both sides of the highway w/ brand new Audis, Volkswagens, and Toyotas. i hadn’t seen a gossy car dealership in a long time… and then around the bend i saw the huge sea of lights. damascus if enormous.. unlike any other city we’ve seen in syria. even allepo, the second largest city, was nothing copmpared to this. as we finally entered the city, the bus was quickly swallowed up by tons of insane traffic as we drove amidst large highrises everywhere. we havent been in a town like his since istanbul…
damascus, is the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city. it’s been around for approximately 5,000 years. i was pretty excited to see what the city had to offer, but instead, i spent the next day seeing nothing but our hotel room and the bathroom down the hall. out of the 6 people in our group, every single one of us had gotten ill within the last several days, and i was the last one. my time had come, and the day was spent absolutely miserably. my stomcah was just killing me. to make matters worse, this was the last day that our little group would be together, as two of them were going to jordan and the other two to beirut. to mark the occasion, everyone went out to this fancy restaurant where the food looked absolutely amazing (yet remarkably, the prices were just as low as most other syrian places). of course, i could barely even look at my food. i just barely finished a small bowl of soup and that’s all.
i woke up today finally feeling better. thank god! the main decision that we had to make was where we would go next. i had read about 300 pages about beirut in the book i’m reading and so i was really really interested in seeing the city. unfortunately it turns out that if we go to lebanon, we’d have to pay another 110$ each to get abck into syria since syria is the onhly country that borders it. add to that 30$ each for a lebabnon visa. well, not matter how nice beirut must be, we couldnt justify spending around 300$ just to go see one town (not to mention hotel bills, restaurants etc whil we were there). so we’re skipping it. instead, we’re staying here another day and the it’s on to jordan….