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Travels in Syria and Lebanon - early Sept

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Two of us - both male - will travel from Ireland to spend 14 days in Syria and Lebanon from early Sept. We will start with Damascus and move around as the fancy takes us - doesn't that sound lovely?
We intend to take a bus to Beirut for a day or two.
I'd be grateful for any tips on where to go, what to see, what to avoid, places to stay and places to eat, how to behave so as not to cause offence, what items we should bring, etc.

Sean

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    I've just returned from Syria. It's been three years now since I was there first time and the country is changing, becoming more open, you meet more travellers - so hurry up.
    Damascuss: I think couple of days enough. National Museum, souks, old city's streets, Ommayad's mosque, hammams (baths), a half-day trip to Maalula.
    I really had troubles to find cheap single this time in Damascuss. But since you are two - hope it'll be O.K. For a quieter place go to l'Oasis hotel next to the Hejaz railway station and take inside room - a bit less noisy then in other areas.

    Or you can better start with Aleppo in the north. There are one-two flights a day, late afternoon. One-way $12.- !!! Visit Citadel, walk around the souks - they are realy big, probably the bigger I saw in Cairo only.

    From there you can just slowly travel south (towards Damascuss). On your way you can spend some half day in Hama, see norias(big wheels on the river).

    Then via Homs go to Palmyra (Tadmor). In Homs there are two places to catch a bus: Big A/C coaches depart and arrive from their own station, smaller normal buses and minibuses operate from a very big station. It is cheaper and seems easier to go from there, though buses are old and a bit dirty.

    Palmyra: I recommend Bel hotel (nearly the first to your right on the main street). It's not yet in the English Lonely Planet "Jordan & Syria". I paid SP400.- ($8.-) for a single. In the late afternoon everybody seems to be heading up to the Arab castle for so called sunset views. Well, it actually didn't impress me that much. But the castle itself is O.K.

    I made it a quick trip from Palmyra in the morning to Homs then change to a Homs-Tartus bus, and from the turn to Hosn a minibus to the castle.
    Warning!!! Tuesday is a holiday now. They may be open till 15.00.

    I'm sure you'll meet other travellers so that you could hire a taxi for a day to cover many other minor sites around.

    Anyway - read Lonely Planet - it's quite useful although many entrance fees went up from SP200.- to SP300.-

    And - you must have visa upon arrival. I don't know what type you have (multy or single entry) so I don't know how you easily you can go to Lebanon and come back.
    My very strong advice - if you have not been to JORDAN - take this chance, go there, you will be so close to it. Their visa is no proble at all on the border. I would defenitely choose Jordan in stead of Lebanon. Or you can try three countries in two weeks. It's still possible to see all the highlights.

    You ask how to behave - I never put on trousers, always shorts. In Syria, Jordan, let alone Lebanon.
    You can easily find cold beer in these countries.
    Don't mention in Syria (and Lebanon) your visit, etc. in/about Israel. Can't think of anything else to warn.

    E-mail me if you want to know more.

    Bye.

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