Sunday, April 25, 2010

Palmyra, Never Again (Maybe)

Palmyra is Syria's top tourist attraction. It is an ancient city now littered with ruins--columns, temples, and other rocky remnants. Maybe I am a Philistine or maybe the ancient ruins of Greece and Egypt are still too fresh in my mind but I had absolutely no appreciation for this place. Just lots of old columns. It was boring. Lillie thought so too and within less than 30 minutes after getting off of the four hour bus ride there, we were seriously debating leaving. The only reason we didn't was because of the sunset. Apparently, the ancient ruins turn goldish pink during sunrise and sunset. And we still were keeping in mind that this was the most popular place in Syria--maybe we were missing something and it would become all clear at sunset. We decided to wait.

Cool... I guess.

I want to go home.

At least crazy tourists made things more interesting. That lady did not lose something. She just wants a better look of whatever it is that's underneath that stone.

Clouds. Clouds were also interesting and helped pass the time.

A guy selling kifayas and tours of Palmyra won our hearts and we decided to take a tour of the place on his motorbike for 3 bucks. The best 3 dollars I've ever spent. While the places he took us were very boring--old stone tower, old graves, old castle, old this and that--riding the motorbike was lots of fun. Plus, since we still had an hour til sunset, he invited us to his house where we had tea and met his parents and sisters. We all got along really well and it was just very pleasant. However, the big test was coming. Would Palmyra turn pink?

Riding the motorbike

At sunset, our tour guide drove us up to the citadel on top of a hill and we camped out waiting for that sun to work its magic. After looking at those ruins for a while with no pink in sight, we turned around and watched the sun set itself. And that was beautiful.

Afterward, our tour guide invited us back to his house for a late dinner but we declined since we to get up very early in the morning. We went to a nearby restaurant where I ordered the camel meat. When Chris was here, he had wanted to try camel and after doing a little online research, it seemed that almost all the restaurant meat in Cairo was from camel and was being sold as cow or goat or whatever. I couldn't actually find a restaurant that had camel displayed on the menu. Apparently it's too rough. Not this meat. Delicious. Maybe it was just beef pretending to be camel.
So despite the site itself being very lame, I actually really enjoyed the day. Palmyra, you're ok.

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