A view of the Inner Citadel from the Tower of Leadership. Qal’at Salahidin, Latakia, Syria.

I’m feeling a bit better today than I did yesterday.  Although I could have done without having to be on the coach by 8.15am.  As we drove away from the hotel we got a good look at where we are staying.  It is perched on top of a hill and looks more like a James Bond villain’s lair than a hotel.  I’m convinced that pyramid is going to turn into some laser beam for bringing down satellites.

A view of Al-Khair hotel. Meshtayeh, Syria.

Our first visit is to the so-called Saladin’s Castle.  A fort from the time of the crusades, but oddly named as Saladin himself never came here.  The last part of the journey is so narrow and steep that our coach can’t take up.  Instead we use mini-buses to complete the journey to the castle.  The first part of the castle we see is a pinacle of rock, which is left standing in the middle of a man made gorge.  The purpose for the pinacle?  The draw bridge used to rest on the top of it.  That used to be the only way into the castle!

The obelisk of stone on to which the castle draw bridge rested. Qal’at Salahidin, Latakia, Syria.

Thankfully there is now a tourist entrance which is easier, via a flight of 120 steps.

The 120 steps leading up to the castle’s entrance. Qal’at Salahidin, Latakia, Syria.

Inside there is a mix of architecture from Bizantine, Crusaders and more recent periods.  Three are also some interesting views down the lush valley towards the coastal resort of Latakia and our stop for lunch.

Looking east at the lower bailey of the castle. Qal’at Salahidin, Latakia, Syria.

Lunch was at a fish restaurant. A very nice meal but the fish was cooked the Eiddle Eastern way with head and tail still attached.  I still find it a little off putting when my meal is staring back at me!  Mind you, I don’t suppose that would bother the restaurant’s pellican who I’m sure probably dines very well on all the left-overs.

A pelican tethered outside a resturaunt. Ra’s at Tamrah, Latakia, Latakia, Syria.

After lunch we head a few miles up the coast to Ugarit an ancient city kingdom, where the oldest written alphabet was found.  Worth noting the prices.  Millitants get in for 10% of the price charged to tourists.

Price of tickets. Ugarit, Ra’s Shamrah, Syria.

The Ugarit site consists only of low-level ruins which to be honest aren’t very picturesque – especialy not in the harsh light of early to mid afternoon.

Remains of the palace. Ugarit, Ra’s Shamrah, Latakia, Syria.

Back on the coach for a couple of hours to drive back to the hotel via St George’s monastery.  It has already gone dark by the time we arrive for this visit.

Exterior view at night. St George’s Monastery, Wadi Nasara, Homs, Syria.

We finally arrive back at the hotel at 7.45pm – some eleven and a half hours after we set off.  A very long day.