Day 6 Ugarit, Saladin Castle & Aleppo
The day started well with intense blue skies but within half an hour the rain fell in buckets and was so bad we couldn’t see the edge of the road. The rain eased off slightly when we got to Ugarit, the place where the alphabet was born in 7,000 BC. The Phoenician remains are excellent and the wild flowers interspersed amongst the walls were amazingly beautiful. I was particularly taken by some colourful snails and a cricket with “horns” and bulging eyes.
The heavens opened completely when we got to Saladin Castle and we got the full thunder, lightning and hail package. The crusader castle is built on an amazingly high crag and Saladin lay siege using catapults to break down two walls (Not like poor Crac: clever Saladin used forged orders to get the soldiers to open up the castle).
The road to Aleppo was supposed to be tremendously spectacular mountain scenery but the clouds were so low we couldn’t even see the road. It was also freezing. After two hours we stopped briefly and watched a woman baking bread in a form of tandoor oven. She spread a layer of dried tomato, peppers, and fennel & nigella seeds over it and then briefly baked it again. A delicious 10 syp (9 pence) well spent.
We stopped our coach outside of Aleppo’s ancient walls (UNESCO listed) and walked through the maze of ancient streets to our hotel, an old Ottoman Governor’s Palace now beautifully restored. Unfortunately the place is dry, unlike our luggage which has suffered badly from rain getting into the coach trunk. Our case and clothes were completely sodden.