A Travellerspoint blog

Alexandria

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We spent the whole day travelling from the Libyan border. On the way from the bus station to the hotel Cat and I were delighted to see the Alexandria had KFC and McDonalds, the first real western food we had seen in 5 weeks. Just what we needed to break the monotony of the Schawarmer and Shish kebabs we had been eating since we left Dahab.

Up reasonable early to see Alexandria. We went out to the Kom Al Shuqqafa Catacombs, which were interesting but unfortunately one fo the many sites we were not able to take photos of. Then on to see Pompey's Pillar, which I am told has nothing to do with him at all and just called that to attract some tourist. We then managed to catch another taxi with a driver that couldn't speak English or read Arabic; we drove around in circles for a while but eventually got to the Batboy Fortress. We tried to find the Greco-Roman museum but it was closed so we went on to see Kom al Kikka, the roman Odeon. We then had just enough time to collect our bags from the hotel and catch the train to Cairo.

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Posted by krissy 05:53 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

Benghazi to the Egyptian border

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View Middle East - March 07 on krissy's travel map.

Well Benghazi started our five day tour of the North east section of Libya and what a lot of driving we ended up doing.

We got greeted at passport control by out guide and driver, after trying to get some money or even exchange some we headed off. We stopped at the commonwealth war graves cemetery in Benghazi had some lunch and then started our journey. After driving for a while we went through a little town called Tocra and on to Tomeita (Ptolmais) where we looked at their museum, which had all the statues and mosaics that had been excavated on show. Our guide then organised a guided tour of the site itself where he translated all the information about the site. After that we headed on to Qasr Libya, which is an old Castle, the castle is not really impressive but I would really recommend seeing the fantastic mosaics that have been found in the area that are on display inside the castle.

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From there we headed to our hotel in Cryencica, near Al-Bayda, on the way we stopped at a huge bridge crossing over Wadi Al kuf to take some photos, Wadi is Valley in Arabic.

Then it was on to the hotel to settle in then out to find some food as both Cat and I were both tired and starving. After having a little drama trying to find some food worth eating we finally found some dodgy spaghetti Bolognese to eat and off to bed.

Day 2, of the tour saw us wandering around the ruins of Cyrene and Apollonia. We also got to see Latrun, which is a lovely ruin of a Byzantine church, which was also used as a trading centre. Unlike the other ruins in Cyrene and Apollonia the excavators of Lathrun have managed to piece together part of the alter and have erected it in its original spot, which was nice to see.

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Day 3 was the end of the ruins and more about seeing the countryside. Mind you we did go back and spend the morning in the Cyrene Museum as it was closed the day before. We then got a packed lunch form Al Bayda and spent the rest of the day in Ras lil Hellal looking at waterfalls, caves and having picnics lunch down by the water. The Mediterranean is so blue around this area. Actually it looked beautiful where we have been so far. We also went back to Apollonia and saw another place that we had seen on a postcard, it is part of the ruins that are still underwater.

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Day 4 was spent travelling to Tobuk on the way we stopped in Derna and saw a lovely waterfall there then stopped for photos of the oldest mosque in Libya, Al Sahaba, stopped for lunch and then on to Tobruk, Cat and I both got to have a bit of a drive and the funny thing is that cat has been car sick the whole time we have been in the middle east, as the driving over here is so erratic but she was fine while I was driving....lol We stopped at a couple of WW2 cemeteries and had a look at the Australian fig tree hospital, which was a cave used in the war to look after the injured. After settling in at the hotel in Tobruk we went out for some dinner and a wander around.

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Day 5, we got ripped off as we paid for a 5 day tour thorough Arkno tours and we spent 2 hours being dropped to the border. What a fifth day. I advise if you want to see Libya it is definitely worth seeing but do it with a different tour group. As this trip was definitely not worth the money we paid for it.

Posted by krissy 03:57 Archived in Libya Comments (0)

Damascus

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We got to Damascus and arrived to our 4* hotel to find they were charging an arm and a leg for a room the size of the ones we were paying half the price for in 2*. So Cat and I complained a lot and they finally gave in and gave us a discount. We didn't do an awful lot that afternoon but as Cat and I were really looking forward to going to a Hammam we started by finding out which ones allowed women and when. We were given a time but it didn't suite us so we decided to walk down to it and see if we could do it on Sat before we left for the airport. Yeah success, Saturday it was. Now we just chilled out and had an early night.

Disaster struck!!!!

Cat had already been sick for the last week with a cold and I got a bout of gastro, woke up the next morning feeling under the weather, but had organised a trip to Bosra for a few hours so no sleeping in.

Bosra was lovely, some more old Roman ruins with a lovely big amphitheatre, it just happened to be Easter Friday that day and the local schools had all organised bus trips for the kids to Bosra and they all seemed to be in the amphitheatre at the same time. I suppose in one way it gave us the feel of how it would have been in its hay day but as we were both not well it was just a little loud for us. We then wandered around the ruins and our driver told us a little about its history. After that it was a quick retreat to the hotel for me and I didn't see the light of day until the following day.

We felt a little better so we went and had our Hammam, which was an experience. Wow how do I explain it, for those of you that haven’t experienced it. A hammam is a bathhouse. We went on a women’s day so only women allowed. It is a maze of small rooms for washing and splashing water on yourself, steam rooms and scrub and massage rooms. I hear the locals only have a proper bath once a weeks so they really go the works, the locals had brought in their shampoo, face masks, foot scrubs, anything you can think of for a ladies day they had it. Cat and I opted to have a scrub and massage to get rid of the weeks of neglect to our skin and boy I felt good after but some how think I lost half of my tan....lol

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After that we walked around the old city, looking at the Umayyad Mosque, the Azem Palace, the souk and we also saw some more ruins before heading to the airport for our overnight mission to Libya.

Posted by krissy 03:38 Archived in Syria Comments (0)

Palmyra

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Well we got here and found a hotel which is really the story in every town we go to but we ended up organising a cab to take us straight up to the Citadel/castle to get some fantastic sunset photos. Of course for some reason we got in cheap, maybe it was that we were 2 aussie girls, and then the ticket man chased us around and ended up giving us a guided tour before the sun went down.
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We started they day by catching a taxi out to the valley of the tombs to see the tower of Elahbel and the Hypogeum of the Three brothers, then headed back to the museum and caught a camel up to the back of Palmyra to work our way from the back to the front. Mental note.... I will never ride a camel again.
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I am now starting to realise how huge the Roman Empire really was, they were everywhere. The ruins at Palmyra are fairly well restored but some of the original stones have been replaced with coloured cement, but overall it looks fantastic and is definitely worth seeing. We wandered down the colonnades, explored some of the church ruins, looked at the amphitheatres and ended down at the Temple of Bell where we got a guide with the ticket. Thank god we had a guide as he showed us stuff that we would never have seen without him, just watchout though as we gave him a tip for his time but somehow he didn't think it was enough so got a bit of attitude.

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Well all that took us a day and Palmyra was completed, now on to Damascus.

Posted by krissy 02:40 Archived in Syria Comments (0)

Hama

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View Middle East - March 07 on krissy's travel map.

Out of the rain we headed to Hama to check out our accommodation. Cat crashed all afternoon so took the opportunity to catch up on my blog.

Well we caught a little sleep in as we had to wait for our clothes to be returned from the laundry. Once we had our clothes we got out and saw Hama. There was not really a lot to see in Hama but what we did see was lovely. We saw some ancient Norias, which are big water wheels that they use to move water around, walked around and found some runs of an old Castle. They also have a citadel but some how I think we didn't get to see it as we thought the ruins were the citadels but looking at a map later I realised it was not on the roads we walked. We also saw the clock tower, as it was right outside out hotel. By the time we had seen this and wandered around some of the town it was time to make our way to the bus station for the trip to Palmyra.

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Posted by krissy 02:22 Archived in Syria Comments (0)

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