THE SYRIAN SERIES, DAY 1
BELFAST – LEBANON
On my way to Syria! I’m sure after my recent disaster of a trip around the Caribbean, most will now wonder why but it’s good to say that after many attempts over several years I am finally enroute to a special country.
WE HADN’T EVEN TAKEN OFF BEFORE THERE WAS AN ARGUMENT KICKING OFF ON THE FLIGHT.
I’m a big fan of the Middle East, it’s full of history with great food and kind, straight laced people; not much different to home!
WHERE IS LEBANON?
First on the agenda was the early flight to London Heathrow, a second home of sorts after taking the same route to the Caribbean. But there will be no white sand beaches on this trip unfortunately. In fact I have been told it snows heavily on the road between Beirut and the Syrian border!
- HOTEL – The Tamar Lancaster, £65, 7/10
EXORBITANT EXCHANGE RATES
I was a little less organised for this trip than usual and had to change currency in the airport. If I can give one piece of advice to anyone going on holiday; never exchange money at the airport. I use a Halifax clarity credit card which although dangerous (in the same sense that all credit cards are) it gives me the highest rate possible; £1 – $1.3 / £2000 – $2650. However at the good old Travelex they were offering me $2300 🤣.
What’s worse is there was a guy looking to change from USD to EURO and Travelex have this strange policy of changing all currency to the local currency and then onto whatever you require, meaning you get bitten twice! I offered to give him mine in exchange, would have saved him 10% but you could tell he was working it all out in his head and didn’t know if I was trying to fleece him or not. Worry not as Travelex fleeced him anyway!
However, Khaldoun from Golden Target Tours, who is arranging my trip and visa was happy to take the £££, saving me over £250 in the process! What a gent!
DAILY TRAVEL STATS….
- Steps – 5800
- Number of flights – 2
- Flight itinerary – Aer Lingus, 1hr Belfast 07:50 – London 08:50 / MEA, 4hr 30m London 12:10 – Beirut 04:40
- Miles covered – 3,283m
Up until take off the entire flight was chaotic. People moving about when the plane was being pushed back while an air stewart and passenger were having a go at each other 2 rows back. Unfortunately all the listening wasn’t going to tell me what it was about as they spoke Arabic, but my guess is that he was sitting on someone else’s seat and eventually got up and walked towards the front.
These arguments, especially in the middle east amuse me because no matter how ferocious it gets, it never turns physical!
- WHITE BANDS – Denotes peace, the snow of the mountains, and purity.
- RED BANDS – Symbolize blood shed for liberation.
- GREEN CEDAR TREE – Symbol of Lebanon and represents eternity, steadiness, happiness, and prosperity.
WORLD’S FASTEST PCR TEST
Arriving into Lebanon I was given an easier ride in immigration that usual and then it was the worlds quickest PCR test! From lining up and walking away it took no more than a minute, this included my registration, taking note of my mobile and getting my swab in the next room, what efficiency!
Then it was out to the arrivals where everyone and their dog seemed to be a taxi driver. I actually remembered this exactly when I was here last time in 2017 but always have something arranged as these taxis could cost $50, something you don’t know until it’s too late. In any case, stand your ground and know what the rate should be!
- The people love to smoke.
- Over 40% of the population speak French
- It is home to the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the world, Byblos.
After a quick bite to eat it was off to bed before a 7:30 pic up to drive across the border to Syria, I can not wait!
On my way to Syria
ABOUT THE COUNTRY:
- Language – Arabic
- Hello – marHabā
- How to cheers – Keeskon/Keesak/Keesik
- Popular beverage – Arak
- Popular Sport – Football
- Staple diet – Pita bread
- MVP – The lady at the gate, incredibly patient to everyone.
- LVP – The people at security (Heathrow) were some of the most ignorant (to others) I have ever seen.
The time has come as I finally get to enter Syria after over 3 years!
Heading across the border into Syria, I’ll visit Damascus, Malula and Al Mushtaya!! Click to read.
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
- Have you been to Middle East?
- Where did you visit?
- Any tips on places to visit?
Let me know in the comments below . . .