Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Assassin and a Grand Castle

Got a late start as I found there were more norias in Hama to check out. Then I was off to

the Masyaf. I get to Masyaf and can see the Castle easily. Walk around on the road where the local directs me and so I do not need to go down into the valley and then backup to the castle on the hill. In the narrow winding streets of town I end up a half mile on the other side of the castle. Went for the direct valley root this time and get there. Masyaf castle was the Assassin Castle where the Old Man of the Mountain (Rashid ad-Din Sinan) sent his faithful to do his bidding. Richard the Lion Heart visited him and Rashid ad-Din Sinan to show his loyalty of his followers started ordering them to step off the top castle wall. Richard did note he was impressed and was able to have the third diver saved from his jump. The castle is full of narrow passage ways and dark rooms. As always I have my light so I could go into all the rooms with a quick check to make sure know one was lurking in a dark corner or behind me. You can never be to careful.

Krak Des Chevaliers is a big castle lots of large rooms and tunnels to explore. Got there with only a hour and half before it closed, but I was motivated. You can walk across the tallest roof and there is no wall or guard rail, like what England's and Ireland's castles used to be. This is no kids play room, it is a big kids playground. Errol Flynn would have enjoy battling his way across this castle and then back again. You could keep a couple hundred horses in the keep in all the large rooms and have plenty of room upstairs for the men. Made it through the whole castle just as the the clock ran out. Then headed down the mountain for some exterior shots. Found a short cut of stairs avoiding some of the roads switch backs. Then get a offer from a Minibus with a group of people already in it, offering to take me to the main highway or Homs. I hop in and the van turns around and takes me backup the hill. At one of the switchbacks going up to the castle he turns on another road leading away from the castle. I was going the wrong way again, but the gods had took pity on me and put me on the right track. The drive insisted that it would be hard to hitch on the Homs -Tartus highway and I should go to Homs. I went for the highway as rides had only take five minutes so far here in Syria. I turned down the taxi at 500SP = $10 offers to Tartus that came by as I waited for a minibus that were 35SP on principle. After a hour of standing on the divided freeway in the dark, I knew the minibus driver was right. Had finished the last of the water at Krak Des Chevaliers and I was thirsty. The last time I had eaten one of the pomegranates, it had made me thirsty and that was all the food I had. So it would be a long night if I had to camp. After a hour and a half a minivan pulls over and offers the ride at 100SP. That was close enough to my principles so I was off. Cars that had no taillights that we race up upon were described as donkeys by my drive. Also just because the highway is divided by a concrete wall and reminds me of a interstate highway does not mean all the traffic on your side is heading in the same direction. This country would be fun to drive. In Tartus went with the hotel that the guide did not recommend seeing a dermatologist after staying at it.

Love and Kisses

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