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Syria: The Fertile Crescent

March 11-25, 1996

TOUR MAP


March 11 USA/DAMASCUS

Depart Chicago for Damascus on Royal Jordanian Airlines. (Meals in flight)

March 12 DAMASCUS

After a transfer in Amman, you arrive in Damascus and are escorted through customs. Check into the Meridien Hotel where you spend the next three nights and meet your fellow tour members at a welcome cocktail party. (B,L,D)

March 13 DAMASCUS

Today take a full day tour of Damascus, the city that competes with Aleppo as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Your day of sight-seeing includes the Azem Palace whose garden courtyard is surrounded by the Museum of Arts and Popular Tradition; the 13th c. Maristen of Nur ed-Din; the Umayyad mosque and the adjacent Hamidiye Suq and Artisanat, a handicraft market in an old caravanserai where you may observe silk-weaving, ceramics and Syrian-style glass blowing. (B,L,D)

March 14 DAMASCUS

This morning tour the National Museum which houses the treasures of Syria's rich past. Proceed to the old section of Damascus, along the "Street Called Straight," so called due to its existence as the original via recta of the Roman period, ending at the Roman Arch and the Chapels of Ananias and St. Paul. (B,L,D)

March 15 MAALULA/LATAKIA/KRAK DES CHEVALIERS

Early morning drive to Maalula, a picturesque town where Aramaic is still spoken. Overlooking the strategic Homs Pass is the Krak des Chevaliers, a perfectly preserved storybook castle. Lunch is at a local restaurant en route. As you motor along the Mediterranean coast to the port town of Tartous, stop at a seaside restaurant for dinner. Continue on to Latakia for overnight at Meridien Hotel, your hotel for the next two nights. (B,L,D)

March 16 LATAKIA/UGARIT/QALAAT SALADIN

This morning explore the predominately Middle Bronze site of Ugarit (Ras Shamra), perhaps the first great international port in history and whose extant stone architectural remains provide the visitor with much insight to the period; tour of the Qalaat Saladin (Saône), a Byzantine/Arab period castle which represents Crusader architecture at its most romantic; return to Latakia for dinner. (B,L,D)

March 17 LATAKIA/ALEPPO

After breakfast, continue your journey to Aleppo by way of the Bronze age site of Ebla (Tell Mardikh), a city whose excavations and the masses of tablets yielded have led to a greater understanding of Syria's place in the international world of the late Early and Middle Bronze Age. Next, visit Apamea (Qalaat Mudiq), an important Seleucid period site. Dinner and overnight in Aleppo at Pullman Hotel, home for the next three nights. (B,L,D)

March 18 ALEPPO

Today you visit Aleppo Museum, Syria's second great collection of antiquity and home of many artifacts from Ebla, Mari, Tell Halaf and Ugarit; after lunch at a local restaurant, climb the Citadel, focal point of a new city established by al-Malek al-Zaher Ghazi (r. 1193-1215). Afternoon at leisure; dinner at hotel. (B,L,D)

March 19 ALEPPO/ST. SIMEON/`AIN DARA

Visit the Dead Cities (the Belus Massif, 1st c. - 10th c. ACE), and the Basilica of St. Simeon. Continue to `Ain Dara, a Neo-Hittite site where you can step into the giant footprints of the gods. Upon return to Aleppo, explore the Suq where treasures of silk, carpets and gold can be found. Dinner in an historic Aleppo home. (B,L,D)

March 20 ALEPPO/ RESAFE/ QALAAT/JABER/TELL SUWEIHAT/ DEIR EZ-ZOR

Depart Aleppo to the Byzantine/Arab site of Resafe with the basilica church of St. Sergius. Continue on to the imposing site of Qalaat Jaber on the shore of Lake Assad and then to Tell Suweihat. Arrival in Deir ez-Zor for overnight at Cham Palace. (B,L,D)

March 21 DEIR EZ-ZOR/ MARI/ HALEBIYE/ ZALEBIYE/ DURA EUROPAS/PALMYRA

Extended visit to the Bronze site of Mari, a virtually intact Mesopotamian palace of king Zimri-lim, stopping en route at the twin fortresses of Halebiye and Zalebiye which date to the period of Zenobia's rebellion against Rome. Afterwards move on to the major historical and artistic site of Dura Europas with late arrival in Palmyra; overnight at Zenobia Hotel in the midst of the site. (B,L,D)

March 22 PALMYRA

After a morning breakfast with bedouin, here for Spring pastures, enjoy a full day tour of Palmyra, the Roman cosmopolitan trade city of Queen Zenobia where you will see the amphitheatre, Valley of the Tombs, Temple of Bel. Dinner and overnight at Zenobia Hotel. (B,L,D)

March 23 PALMYRA/DAMASCUS

Morning departure to Damascus. Remaining day at leisure to return to the Suq to hunt rug bargains, to revisit the museum, or to relax. Dinner at Meridien Hotel. (B,L,D)

March 24 DAMASCUS

Morning at leisure with drive and lunch in the mountains between Lebanon and Syria. Farewell evening folklore dinner. Overnight at Meridien Hotel. (B,L,D)

March 25 DAMASCUS/USA

Early morning return to U.S.A. on Royal Jordanian Airlines. (Meals in flight)

RETURN TO SYRIA: THE FERTILE CRESCENT

Revised: March 3, 2009

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