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Rafal's Travel log

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Life is a journey - enjoy it

Log entries 81 - 90 of 197 Page: 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Apr 08, 2010 06:00 PM Madrid - what can expect from this city

Madrid - what can expect from this city Today I am leaving for a short trip to Spanish capital, Madrid. I will also try to see Toledo and Chinchon. I heard so many good things about Madrid - vibrant night life, great food, excellent wine fine monuments. I just can't wait to check all those things personaly.

Mar 20, 2010 09:00 PM Hammam - the best thing at the end of hard day

Hammam - the best thing at the end of hard day This day I reserved only for Damascus. City has so many things to offer that one day wasn't enough. I started with visit on Souq al-Hamidiyya. Long covered street with hundereds of shops, then I went to visit Umayyad Mosque (entry fee 50 SYP). It is one of the greatest Mosques and one of the holiest. In my opinion courtyard is the most spectacular, with mosaics on one of the walls, wonderful Dome of the Treasury - hard to desrcibe. After leaving the Mosque I let myself to lost in the labirynth of the narrow streets, discovering old Damascene houses, with beautiful wooden balconies and windows. I spend more than two hours looking what is after next corner. Next on my list was Azan Palace, but it was so crowded that I couldn't easily see it. Old Town in Damascus is divided in Muslim, Christian and Jewish quarter. I had a long walk there. At the end I went to visit hammam. I chosed Hammam Nouredin, built in the middle of the 12 th century. For a bath with scrub and massage I paid only 7 EUR. Now completely relaxed I can go back to the hotel and pack my backpack. Time to go back home.

Mar 19, 2010 09:00 PM Taking the pictures is strictly forbidden

Taking the pictures is strictly forbidden That was very busy day for me. As I am also very big fan of aviation I couldn't omit the oportunity flying with Syrian Air. Flight was in resonable price (around 30 EUR) so I had the ticket from Aleppo to Damascus. It was an adveture. They put us in the old Yakolev (I thought that such planes are not flying anymore). The seats in the plane were like from '60:) and after take off when I took a photo from the air of the citadel they told me that is strictly forbidden. When I landed in Damascus during the day I found great option to get to the city centre. Just outside terimnal there is a bus station and ticket costs only 45 SYP (+ 25 per piece of luggage). I knew that I wanted to see Bosra. It was difficult but I have done it. On the outskirts of the Town is a bus station from where every two hours is the direct bus (ticket 100 SYP, journey two hours, bus is every two hours). I arrived quite late at Bosra, they were almost closing the biggest attraction when I got there. Bosra is fasmous for Roman theatre. It was built early in the 2nd century AD, when Bosra was the capital of a Roman province Arabia. It is estimated that it could seated 15.000 people. After collapsing of Roman empire Ayyubids strenghtened the fortifications and the theater became a citadel. Having little bit of free time I went to see other ruins of the ancient Bosurum like Mosques, Colonnade street and Arch. When I got to the bus station I found out that the bus was full, they said that I had to stay here for the night. But after 30 minutes of insisting they found a ticket for me.

Mar 18, 2010 09:00 PM Empty souq

Empty souq Aleppo is the biggest city in Syria, one of the oldest and very pretty. There is so many thinks to do here, that this one day that I have will be not enough for sure. Aleppo is very famous for its souq (bazaar), unfortunately the day in which I visited the city was friday - holy day for Muslims so almost everything was closed. I had a chance to see the architecture but I was not able to feel the atmosphere of the place. Then I visited the Citadel, which is located on the top of the mountain. Exterior view is better that internal, but also panoramic views over the city are great. From there I went to see few Mosques, including great Mosque (entrance fee 25 SYP, plus something for footwear guardian). It has been built in the years 705 - 715 AD. Courtryard was full of people, childres were playing adults were chatting togheter. After I went to see the old hospital buildings, but unfortunately it was closed. So I went to see Al Jdeida district and I must admit that is very pleasant part of the city, with Armenian Church, Greek Orthodox church, Syrian Catholic church and Maronite cathedrals. Almost everywhere were masses. I really liked.

Mar 17, 2010 09:00 PM Cleopatra also was here

Cleopatra also was here It was very busy day. As I don't have that much time here, I decided to take a day trip organized by the hotel (well they provide only the driver - cost 700 SYP around 11 EUR) It would be not possible to do this itinerary on my own in one day. So on the early morning we went to see Apamea ( or Afamia). City reached its glory on the first century of the first Millenium when they had even 500.000 habitants, and was visited in that time by Mark Anthony with Cleopatra. From this period only survived long colonnade (more than 2 kilometers) and some ruins of the buildings. Area is still not excaveted, so probably there is many more miracles in the earth. Then we wnet to see some of the Dead cities. When the trading routes has been changed some of the cities on the way were just abandoned. Two most known are Al Bara - more autentic , ruins are between olive trees and second is Sergilla (entrance fee 75 SYP). Ruins are locted on the surrounding hills with some extra examples of buildings. Everything is very well described in english. Then we come back to Hama and I went to see Norias, an ancient giant water wheels which were navigating the plantations and were given water for the city. Hama has also nice, very small old town (was almost completely destroyed in bombings in 1982, by the goverment). From there I took a taxi to the bus station and then the bus to Aleppo (100 SYP, 1.5 hour). I reached Aleppo in the late evening and I had no luck with the hotel, the better ones were already fully booked. But I found a hotel just near the corner of the Old Town and Souqs :)

Mar 16, 2010 09:00 PM Krak de Chevaliers or Qalat al Hosn

Krak de Chevaliers or Qalat al Hosn I was very happy this morning when I saw that is very sunny day. So I went to see Tartus little bit. This city was a Crusaders stronghold then was taken by the Saladin. Most of the city's attractions come from this period - old castle - which is adapted for a living quarter now, but walls, moat and some buildings are still easily visible. Second is The Cathedral of our Lady of Tortosa - beautiful from outside, inside is not interesting museum and there is no posibilty of taking pictures (entrance fee 150 SYP) Then I took a bus going to Homs and I asked (with the help of local people) to leave me on the highway, where is turn to Krak de Chevaliers. From this place or you can wait for minibus or take taxi. Because I had not much time I took a taxi (100 SYP). Krak de Chevaliers is located on the top of the mountain. It had strategic position for a years. Built by the Crusaders was never conquered by the enemy was passed to Mamluk Sultan Beybar. Castle inside is very interesting, from the towers there are great views. But in my opinion the best was the view over the Castle from nearby hill. Just wonderful and breathless. I had a lot of luck when I was coming back - there was direct minibus to Homs, from where I took next minibus to Hama (50 SYP). Tomorow I am planning to see Dead Cities

Mar 15, 2010 09:00 PM Miracle on the desert

Miracle on the desert Most of this day I spent visiting Palmyra. The city enriched on the trade, city destroyed because of sick ambitions of it Queen Zenobia. From the early morning when there was not that many visitors I started to see miracles of Palmyra. I started with small but very picturesque temple of Baal Shamin (built in 17AD) then I had a walk through Great Colonnade (with magnificent monumental arch) and I headed to Temple of Bal (entrance fee 150 SYP). It is difficult to describe this ruins - in the middle of the huge square (surrounded bu the walls) standing remains of the temple with some columns around. After I went to see theater - which now is under reconstruction, but is still possible to get in (entrance fee 75 SYP). The theater was covered by the sand until 1950. After I went to the less know part of the ruins to see the Funerary Temple and Diocletian Camp. Just behind the old city walls is Valley of the tombs. I saw the finest example of this tower building only from outside (because it was closed). That was the last thing I saw in Palmyra, I went back to the hotel and took the bus to Homs (bus is every hour ticket 150 SYP, two hours). In Homs I wanted to switch the bus to Tartus, but or my guidebook is very old or they built another Bus station. My was on the other side of the town. Bus to Tartus are very often (ticket 69 SYP, one hour). When I arrived to the city it started to rain. But I will not complain. Tomorrow I will try to see Krak de Chevaliers !!!!

Mar 14, 2010 09:00 PM On the way to the ruins of Zenobia Kingdom

On the way to the ruins of Zenobia Kingdom It is very difficult when the plane is landing in the middle of the night. I landed in Damascus at 3 am, then I was waiting 40 minutes for passport control and finally I had to take taxi to the city centre (with hefty fee - 25 EUR). I went sleep only at 4.30 From the early morning I went to organise some parts of the trip which are impossible through internet - like buying the fly ticket for Syrian Air. Busses to Palmyra are running from Harasta Bus station, few kilomteres outside the town. There is a lot of bus companies, so better is to check standart of the bus before buing the ticket. I haven't done that and I had the worst bus ... Trip to Palmyra takes three hours (ticket was 200 SYP, 1 EUR = 63 SYP) and leads throught the desert. Bus station in Palmyra is outside the city, so I had to take the taxi (100 SYP) to get to my hotel (Town hotel 1.000 SYP per room). I was planning to see the ruins tomorrow morning, but I as there is no entrance ticket to the site I decided to have a quick look on them.... and I stayed few hours. Palmyra is simply beautiful, I was completely overhelmed.I saw in the afternoon light Baal temple, Colonnade street, Magnificient Arch. But I heard that the most pictoresque is sunrise, so tomorrow I am going to have a detailed sightseeing of the remains of this great city of Queen Zenobia.

Mar 13, 2010 09:00 PM On the road again

On the road again This time I am leaving to the region where I haven't been yet - to the Middle East, to Syria. I really curious how it will be there, after preparing my itinerary I know already that one week (that I have) certainly won't be enough. So many interesting place, so ancient history. But today I am flying there and tomorrow Damascus.

Jan 16, 2010 09:00 PM Levoca - did you heard about that city ?

Levoca - did you heard about that city ? Yesterdays evening we finished in Levoca. Before going to the hotel we went to the restaurant with typical Slovak food (at least from Spis region). Delicious - cabbage soup, hot chease, sausage and bryndzove halusky - everything very tasty. We also tried local alcohol from plums and pears. The morning we started to visit Levoca, which is very beautiful and cute town. The town has a historic center with a well preserved town wall, a Renaissance church with the highest wooden altar in Europe, carved by Master Paul of Levoca, and many other Renaissance buildings. And finally church was open - we were so happy. And the wooden altar is spectacular (there is more than one altar in the St.Jacob church). Unfortunately we had no more time to stay in Levoca because aour plane was in the early afternoon. When we took off we could see from the air wonderful Tatra mountains, and this view I will remember for long time.

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