I can not complain enough about the lack of decent internet cafes, government website restrictions and decent connections in Syria. I just lost two hours of work because the internet cafe owner decided to reboot all the computers without warning. Ahh! That said, most of my day was quite enjoyable. I went to the Apamea ruins, the Masyaf Fortress and the Krak des Chevaliers crusader castle.
Through my hotel I arranged a tour of the sights I menioned above. Normally others would join in but no one in the hotel seemed to want to do this tour, so I was on my own. The benefit was having no one in my photos. On the downside, I had to pay a lot more for the tour. It was all worth it when I got to Apamea and was the only person there, just as the sun was rising. It was a beautiful sight and very picturesque. Apamea is most popular because of it's long column lined roads. The site has passed through many hands, including the Crusaders, but went through its golden age during the Roman period.
Masyaf fortress was my second stop for today. This is the castle that was once occupied by "THE" Assassins and part of the inspiration behind me traveling through the middle east. It was part of my inspiration to see the middle east, as it was featured in a video game called "Assassin's Creed." The game story line was based on actual places and characters during the Crusader period.
My third stop of the day was the Krak des Chevaliers. I didn't know much about it, aside from it being a major Crusader stronghold. It was easily the highlight of the day. The castle is huge, boasting two defensive walls. It was easy to get lost among its many corridors. In fact, I did get lost. I had a great time imagining battles it must have seen as I traced my way along the exterior fortifications.
During the sightseeing I met Aaron from Australia and Mariee from Quebec. I met them at Masyaf and ran into them again at Krak des Chevaliers. They were incredibly friendly and when they found out I was staying in Hama they invited me out for dinner. It was great to have some company. We ate, played backgammon and shared travel stories. Walking around Hama we also met a number of locals who were happy to tell us of Syrian customs and instruct us in the way of the Arabic language. The friendliest of all was Hassan, in the middle of the photo on the left flanked by Mariee and Aaron.