Tuesday 6 January – Palmyra

I travelled to Palmyra by bus past road signs to the border with Iraq. The border can’t be much more than 100 km as the crow flies from Palmyra, Spin out.
Palmyra is a kind of dusty desert frontier town, The best way to describe it is for you to imagine a cross between, 
1) the Northern African town in ‘Gladiator’ where Maximus fights in the arena for the first time under the watchful eye of that Oliver Reed character, and
2) that outpost on the planet of Tatooine in ‘Star Wars’ where Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi meet up with Han Solo.
But it’s more agreeable in that it  has good internet connections and okay hotels.
Palmyra is located in a desert oasis. You drive through the harshest desert imaginable, then you see the palm trees ahead, and you’re there! In ancient times it was a staging post between the west and the east. It became a Roman city, and carved out its place in the history books when Queen Zenobia of Palmyra staged a highly successful revolt against Rome. When it was eventually crushed, she was carted off to Rome and paraded up the streets in chains, but managed to worm her way out of it somehow and ended her days in Tivoli married to a Roman senator. Sounds like a gal with spirit and attitude, these days I suppose she would be able to make a good living appearing on chat shows.
Palmyra’s drawcard is a whole heap of Roman ruins, but they are not just ANY old ruins, they have a desert setting which is just sublime. Both the ruins and the desert light are a Pinky gold, or is that a Goldy pink? They stretch on for ages, and this morning, until some touts and a few other tourists arrived on the scene, I had them virtually to myself. I wandered around in a happy daze looking for good photographic angles.
Then I found the four star "Hotel Zenobia’ which is – I kid you not – no more than a few metres away from the "Temple of Baal Shamin’, which dates from 17 AD and was dedicated to the Phonecian god of storms. I sat in the outdoors cafe and drank something almost approximating a capuccino, and tried unsuccessfully to get a good photographic angle of a cat perched on a retaining wall with the ruins as a backdrop.

~ by margoforte12 on January 6, 2009.

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