Well, last time I wrote we were in Greece. A few weeks have gone by since then and we have now arrived in Lebanon. Let me fill you in with what happened in the meantime for those who have not used the terrible Google Translation tool. There is one word that comes to my mind when thinking about Greece. Cold. Not quite what we expected in the first place. But even after our arrival in Athens, our lovely 3 days stay, spent visiting the Parthenon, Agora, and other wonders of the kind, we drove up north to reach the turkish border. On the way we stopped at the Meteoras, a fantastic place where monastaries have been built high up on rocks back in the XIIIth century. Now reachable by road and stairs, back in the times you could only walk there and needed to be pulled up in a net to enter those sacred places! Quite something. There the snow decided to make things a little more tricky. On the mountain roads to Thessaloniki we had to face the slipery snowy roads of central Greece. While every car was stopping on the side, even those with chains, we decided to drive further at the pace of 10 km/h since staying still was not an option. It took us 2 hours to make 20 km (probably even less), 2 hours were we prayed not to fall down in the valley when we were changing direction in the turns (in those times the car did not respond anymore and had no grip at all... Just imagine driving on 3 cm of thick snow, that should do it). Eventually we made it safe and sound. Pfff!
Greece Pics (click on the picture to see the album)
Our arrival in Turkey would not lead to any change. We arrived in Istanbul under the snow. Not a good thing, turkish drivers hate snow! It was pretty hectic but we finally arrived at our friend's house for a few days of rest. Istanbul, we will come back there in April to spend what will be an amazing week. Moving on. We decided to reach the Middle East by driving down the coast of Turkey, to enjoy the great weather that finally showed up. Pictures are sufficient to tell you how lovely this was. Don't be too jealous!
Eventually we arrived at the syrian border. A great week was behind us and we were facing the arabic world. We had no visa even since we had heard that many people had gotten one at the border. You see where I'm heading... No visa no entry. That's what they said. OMG it took us 7 hours to negociate a 3 days transit visa to go to Lebanon. 3 days that turned into 2 since we had taken the 1st one to negociate the visa itself. Crazy! We understood in the meantime that these troubles were due to the unrest in the south of the country. Problems? What problems? That's what they then said at the embassy in Beirut knowing there was already more than a hundred dead and that the revolution had begun. What a joke. Well, not at the time. And not now since we don't know if we are going to be able to cross the border back to Syria. Which we have to since Lebanon is stuck between Syria and Israel. Trust me, you cannot even consider going through to Israel, not an option! Well we still enjoyed our 2 days in Syria where we met some friends, a really nice syrian family, and saw some very nice landscapes. Nonetheless we were relieved when entering Lebanon. Lebanon is a great place, but so difficult to understand. The complexity of its political system is worldwide known. It lead to a 17 years civil war that killed 200,000 people between 1975 and 1992. Plus the war in 2006 with Israel. Quite some things happened there. But the people are so nice and the country is beautiful. And a lot speak French! That helps knowing our arabic is, well, inexistant. We arrived in Beirut after a night in the moutains up north near Tripoli (no, not the one in Libya!), where we got stuck since the road up proved to be closed due to too much snow (it will follow us everywhere!), and were a panicked neighbour starting talking about the CIA after having kindly called the cops. Another police control at midnight (did I not mention the one in Tukey at 00:30? Ooops, forgot!). Well we managed. Beirut proved to be quite something. First, the driving. The Lebanese do not know how to drive. So in Beirut it's the summun. We got hit twice in 3 days. Poor Mimi (our car for those who did not get it). But we stayed at some friends who were wonderful. Again. Thanks to all of them! And to those to come. From there we discovered the capital city, the lovely village of Byblos, and helped in a free clinic for Palestinians during a morning. We also followed the news closely (for instance 7 Estonians got kidnapped in Lebanon 200 km from here. Let's pray they get released asap). We are now getting ready to leave to Syria, if we manage to get a visa at the border that is. Surprise surprise! More news to come hopefully!
Alexandre and Emmanuel