|Yay Daylight saving ended so we got an extra hour in bed!
Standard cheese, bread and egg breakky then walked back to the restaurant for coffee with Hemet - thought I was going to get a chance to practice making the coffee but the place was a hive of activity getting ready for 300 plus for lunch- so coffee was made for me and was very nice all the same. The others called in 10 minutes later and we headed off to the Castle.
Guide Waled another very informative man. Parts of the castle have been restored by the French in the 1920's and 30's but overall the castle is largely intact and it easy to see how formiddable these places were. 30 metre deep moats, inner and out walls, built to house 400 knights, 400 horses, 4000 soldiers and the people needed to service this group. Originally provisioned to be able to with stand 5 years of seige - can't quite see how that would have worked. Up until 3 decades ago there were local people living in parts of the castle and the guide showed us where his fanily had lived - Hemet's family had operated a food business within the castle.
The sheer height of the passages and the length of time it took to complete- ?90 odd years- the secret tunnels, latrines , aquaducts, rain water systems, stabling all just add to the impressiveness of the structure.
Far more impressive than any castle I have seen in the UK - probably becasue of its scale and completeness.
Off in a local taxi back to Hom to catch bus to Aleppo. Had to shouw passports to get into the bus station and then there were touts everywhere trying to buy tickets for us. All under control with Kristina though and we had hardly got our packs off to be told hurry the bus is leaving now - quick trot to the bus, had our packs ripped off and then scuttled on to the bus which was rolling before we even had seats... hard to believe they are trying to rival the Swiss by maintaining a tinetable. But yet again the small group proved that we can travel faster. Got to Aleppo by 1430 and to our hotel in the old city. Had to walk in - no taxis allowed- but that was fine - not too far to hotel.
Being Friday was good as Souk closed and no hordes to fight against.
Went on orientation walk through souk to Citadel and then on to money machine and Baron Hotel where TE Lawrence and Agatha Christie had both stayed. Had a G&T there before going on though Christian quarter. Much livelier through here and not as dirty and rubbish strewn. Micer doors on all the closed shops aswell. Went to Al Khommeh for dinner- has the record for the largest kebab and the largest fattoush - Went instead for the lamb shwarma which was delicious, slightly spicy, really good tabbouleh, and yet again way too much bread. Yum!
Bucketing down by the time we left the restaurant and it was puddle dodging and lots of giggling on the way home trying mot to slip over, when there was the most amazing lightning flash in different colours with a deafening boom over head seconds later - lots more nervous giggling and even faster scurrying.
Great to have an early night.
(Potential Palmyra camel racing adventure for tomorrow scuttled dam!)