Cycling Syria

The skies out here are amazingSyria: it’s not what you think.

For many people, just the name brings to mind images of a country overflowing with terrorists. Nothing could be further from the truth, despite what some governments would have you believe. The Syrian people are incredibly welcoming to visitors of any nationality, perhaps only beaten to first place by their nearby neighbour Iran. And yes, that applies even if you’re American.

It’s easy to get a visa for Syria – even at the border, although officially you’re supposed to apply beforehand – and travel is cheap in this cradle of civilisation. Explore Damascus, the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city and wander among the ruins of Palmyra. Take in the scent of wafting spices in the souks of Aleppo and cycle to the hilltop where the ultimate Crusader knight castle of Crac de Chevaliers overlooks a beautiful valley. Hama is another popular destination, while Deir-ez-Zor on the Euphrates river is off the beaten track.

Ruins at PalmyraMost Syrians are Muslims but many religions are embraced within its borders so you won’t have to wear a headscarf or forgo your lycra shorts while exploring the country. It’s no problem to enjoy a cold beer or a glass of local wine after a hard day of pedalling.

The best part of all is that Syria is still relatively undiscovered. Come now while it’s still possible to wander virtually alone among the Assyrian ruins of Palmyra, one of the world’s finest archaeological sites.

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Comments

  1. Ian
    27th December 2009 at 2:16 pm #

    During August 2009 I cycled about 2000km from Istanbul through Turkey and Syria to Damascus it was fantastic and the people were so nice, my one peice of advice is stock up on punture repair kits as the roads in Syria are good but littered with glass and shreadded truck tires…ohhh and beware of stray dogs!

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