Sunday, June 13, 2010

Salaam Alekhum from Lebanon

Rupe is now a graduate of the Beirut Driving Academy - we hired a car and drove over the mountains to the Bekaah valley, a very fertile part of Lebanon which is effectively the headquarters of the Hisbollah....they try to sell t shirts to tourists with the design of the upraised fist with a machine gun - perfect garment to win friends and influence people! We went to Baalbek - a wonderful ancient site, in some ways even more magnificent than wonderful Palmyra. ON the way back ( a very long way back!) we went across the mountains past the ski resort of Becharre and through the cedar forests - and on the crest of the mountain ranges there was snow! Then today we travelled up the coast and back in time to Tripoli ( not the one in Libya, the one in Lebanon) and went to an amazing old market in the shadow of a huge crusader castle - if you have ever wondered where your remote control or old clothes, furniture and electrical gadgets ended up, this is the place. Lovely vegetable stalls, although we gave everything a jolly good wash when we got it back to the boat. Departure for Israel tomorrow, looking forward to a smooth sail and to the Bycrofts joining us.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

We are in very hot sunny Syria  - we sailed here from Turkey having bypassed the port of Iskendurun because of PKK Kurdish independence separatists attacking the Turkish Navy. So we skipped that port! All peaceful here though.
Not entirely sure what will happen in Israel as they recently attacked a Gaza aid convoy and there are some tensions but we will find out when we get there.

There are three NZ boats and one from South Africa ( a couple from Capetown) in our rally fleet of 70. All really nice people.

Even just to use the internet in a little side street cafe like this one we needed to provide our passports so they can record our details. Some of the kiwis went off on their own with a group of Aussies and they didn't take their passports yesterday. They spent a few hours this morning in prison!!!

Today we decided to skip the organised tours and came on our own to the city of Tartus in Southern Syria - off shore there is the only island in Syria, where the locals go for day trips. Lovely narrow windy alleyways, kids everywhere, rubbish everywhere! a traditional boatbuilding yard and an ancient castle.

A couple of days ago we went inland in Turkey and went on a balloon trip over the amazing landscape in Cappadocia. We stayed in a rock cave hotel; rooms carved out of the rock - beautifully cool all year round. We hired a car and drove there; on the way we saw a donkey on the road with its saddle slipped under its belly and hobbling its back legs, so we stopped and took its saddle off - not sure what the owner will think (he was nowhere to be seen) but the donkey was delighted - cantered off to the roadside gravel and had a luxurious roll with all four legs in the air!

Pictures won't load here, maybe for the same reason that Facebook is inaccessible in this country! I will try again, sometime soon..........

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stıll ın Mersın ınstead of on our way to Iskendurun

We were plannıng to saıl wıth the rally to Iskendurun but that ıs sadly the locatıon of a PKK separıtıst group attack on the Turkısh navy on the same day as the Israelı attack on the Gaza relıef expedıtıon so rally plans have been altered and we are on our way to Lattakıa ın Syrıa tonı of Cappadocıa trıp to come when wıreless permıts ( not so easy rıght now)  !!