July 25, 2001 – Aleppo – Castle of Saladin – Tartus (2)




At the entrance I take my bag, the gatekeeper still don’t have any change and i start my way back to the village because my driver seems to have forgotten me. At the river, I begin the climbing of the road and it’s pretty hard with this heat. At half way I finally hear the sound of his engine and he is very surprised to see me here under this sun. He brings me back to the village and decides after a long time of talking (many people gathered around us to attend the spectacle) to offer me the return trip. He will try to have his money on the back of a wealthier tourist. I go to Lattakia and reach the bus station near the railway station to take a bus to Tartus. I decide not to go to Marqab castle at half way to directly leave for the coast city. Tomorrow, it will be my starting point to visit the Krak des Chevaliers.


The bus to Tartus arrives just before 4 pm, so it enables me to find my hotel for the night. Today was a day without occidental tourists excepted 3 Italians and 4 French at the castle. In Tartus, I have the impression that the coast does not live on the same rhythm as the rest of the country. Here people are very relaxed, women wear colored clothes and only a few of them wear the veil, some of them are even made up. It sounds like we are in Europe, I am wondering if this is the proximity of Lebanon or simply because Tartus and Lattakia are the rendezvous of the Syrian middle class trying to escape the heat of the summer.


I finally find the hotel (Raffoul hotel) for a good price (SP 150 for a double room). The manager, Karam, speaks French fluently, and has the grocery shop just under the hotel. He gives me the keys of the hotel whereas he is in his shop and I give them back to him from the balcony. There is a strange atmosphere in the city like the one when something should happen very soon. Many shops are closed and we are not on Fridays, ther is not a lot of people in the streets. I find the answer by walking to the harbor.


Today is a special day and the city on the promenade is fully decorated. Many stands were set up to offer distractions to the inhabitants. My answer is that it should be a city celebration. Policemen that I meet, tell me that there is a big parade at 7pm so I hurry up like hundreds of persons to have a place on the sidewalk near a place full of officials in uniforms. It begins with two portraits of Hassad family: Bachar and Hafez followed by the town’s officials in dark suits. A Syrian is in charge of making the crowd applaud these persons: I am astounded but it is funny. After there are many children who are marching with Syrian flags in their hands. People around me are happy because from time to time they recognize relatives, neighbors in the parade. After the children there are decorated floats as if it was a carnival. Around 8pm the parade is over and it’s time for a huge and beautiful firework in the sky of Tartus. I am very impressed by what I have seen, I couldn’t have chosen a better day to stay in this lovely city. The sunset with boats far off was pretty nice.


Succumbing to the terraces and the animation, I returned very late at the hotel for a deserved night.


Tartus : the sunset from the promenade





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D1 : Lyons – Damascus

D2 : Damascus (1)  (2)

D3 : Damascus

D4 : Damascus – Palmyra

D5 : Palmyra – Hama

D6 : Hama – Apamea – Aleppo

D7 : Aleppo

D8 : Aleppo

D9 : Aleppo

D10 : Aleppo – San Simeon – Aleppo

D11 : Aleppo – Qalaat Al Saadin – Tartous (1)  (2)

D12 : Tartous – Krak des chevaliers – Beirut (1)  (2)

D13 : Beirut – Tripoli

D14 : Tripoli – Damascus

D15 : Damascus – Maaloula – Damascus

D16 : Damascus

D17 : Damascus – Bosra – Damascus

D18 : Damascus – Amman – Dead Sea – Amman

D19 : Amman – Jerash - Amman

D20 : Amman – Madaba – Amman

D21 : Amman – Kerak – Dana

D22 : Dana

D23 : Dana – Petra (1)  (2)

D24 : Petra

D25 : Petra

D26 : Petra – Wadi Rum

D27 : Wadi Rum – Aqaba

D28 : Aqaba

D29 : Aqaba

D30 : Aqaba

D31 : Aqaba

D32 : Aqaba - Amman

D33 : Amman

D34 : Amman – Lyons




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