JORDAN / SYRIA / LEBANON TRAVELLERS' COMMENTS

Jordan & Syria 2010
Jim and I are home safe and sound after a wonderful trip to Syria and Jordan. It went perfectly to plan and we
experienced everything we wanted to. Our only complaint was that we needed two months rather then two weeks. Thank you for your fantastic organisation (great hotels especially Dar Al-Yasmine in Damascus and the one in Hama) and the little surprises e.g. the horse ride into Petra and swim at a resort at the Dead Sea. 
Drivers and guides were all excellent and passing through customs etc in Damascus was a breeze. The hotel Cilicia in Aleppo was in a great location. It was very clean and the staff couldn't have been more helpful.
Thank you again for organising this trip of a lifetime. We have already recommended you to two other people in the Southern Highlands - Lorraine & Jim McAlpine
 
Jordan / Syria / Turkey Travels
Thought you’d like to know how the trip is going. We’re in Petra today, heading out to the ruins shortly. Syria was great, loved Aleppo, probably our favourite, but Damascus was fascinating as well. Palmyra and Jerash were also very interesting.
Everything went fairly smoothly crossing the border from Turkey; Hamit took us to the bus station and we caught a bus which left about 12:30pm. Leaving Turkey was okay, just had to get our passports stamped and the boy from the bus handled getting the passports signed at the Syrian side, all in all it took about an hour. Hussein, our driver met us at the border and took us to the hotel in Aleppo. We both think it would have been easier to just get the bus straight through to Aleppo, and get picked up at the bus station in Aleppo. The hotels have been just great, mainly small boutique hotels, just what we like.
The program has worked well, we’ve enjoyed everything and we’ve had plenty of free time to wander around. Our guide, Ahmed and
driver, Hussein, in Turkey were both great, and our driver in Jordan, Raad, is excellent. Their English is very good, and they have all been very nice people, so no complaints. Really looking forward to seeing Petra, I’m sure it will live up to its reputation. Jordan has been just wonderful, the people are great and we loved the trip to Wadi Rum. We’re now in the Dead Sea Spa Resort, just lovely way to finish off. -  Val and Pat
 
Jordan / Syria / Lebanon - March/April 2010
Lebanon: No problems with entry to Lebanon and no visa required.  No payments asked for.  Processing at airport very slow. Sylvia a good guide and the driver Hassan was good too.  Hassan, in particular, was extremely intelligent and a hive of information, particularly on current political and social events.
All sites visited in Lebanon were great, although we were slightly disappointed with Byblos, largely because key features had been
relocated to provide better viewing for tourists rather than being left in situ. Jeita caves a revelation. Cedars lovely, Anjar and especially Ba’albek were great.
An unscheduled highlight was a visit to the Mouawad Palace on Sylvia’s recommendation, a private museum in
Beirut, set up by a wealthy Lebanese jeweller (now a resident of Switzerland), showcasing fabulous furniture, ceramics and jewellery, including a diamond encrusted bra worth about eleven million dollars.  Could be worth including on future programs.
Syria: No problems at border although a bit slow.  Already had visa and I think this helps move things along. Guide Ahmad Al’Shalabi was terrific.  A young man (30 years old) but we got on very well and had many interesting discussions on a range of topics.  Highly
recommended (…) Ahmed was an intelligent, educated, “with-it” young man while Mr Nabile was anything but. Ahmed even took us to have afternoon tea with his mother at her house outside of  Damascus (…).
Syria was our particular favourite of the countries we visited.  Compared to Lebanon where there are banks and ATMs about every block, Syria has virtually none so potential tourists need to be advised about changing money when they can, particularly in centres other than Aleppo or Damascus. Sites in Syria exceeded our expectations. 
Crac des Chevaliers, Apamea, St Simeon, Rassafeh, Palmyra and Bosra were all fantastic. Aleppo and Damascus museums also excellent.  I think we got more out of visiting the various sites first followed by the visit to the museum in Damascus on the last day – meant more to us than perhaps doing it the other way round.
I know we wanted to go along the Euphrates and we liked the drive.  However it is possibly not an area that would appeal to everyone.  From Aleppo to Deir ez Zor was great and from there to Palmyra too but the extra bit down to Mari and back not really worthwhile as the Mari site is currently undergoing more renovation and hard to see much. 
Being close to the Iraq border was exciting! Loved Aleppo and Damascus – both fascinating cities.
Jordan: Our driver Sufyan was excellent.  In fact he took our basic program and rearranged the timing to make much better use of time.  One thing we discovered too late is that it is possible to do a day tour to Jerusalem from Amman (possibly from Dead Sea resorts) and we would have done this had we known.  You get a special ‘visa’ at border on Allenby Bridge) but require a double entry visa for Jordan.
Dead Sea Spa superb.  Perfect place to spend last afternoon.
One aspect not quite clear to us was the extent to which we could ‘impose’ on guide/driver.  We didn’t really need them hanging around for us on most occasions but there were a couple of instances (eg at Badiat Cham) when it might have been helpful to have them
available after the day’s touring.  Probably need to be spelled out to customers.
All in all, a fascinating trip and experience which we would strongly recommend to others. Arabic people a delight and so friendly - Roger and Helen Allnutt
 
Jordan / Syria / Israel
We are now half way through our holiday and have been glad of the couple of days respite in Tel Aviv.
Damascus was great, people were lovely and the place very atmospheric. The hotel was very good – definitely recommend it – and had its own Hamam bath house. Our guide Lena and our driver were both really nice – funny and warm and we felt very comfortable with them. All of the places on our itinerary were well maintained/reconstructed and all were worth the visit.
As for Syria, the trip through Jordan was seamless. Our driver was great – Joseph – and had spent several years in the USA before being deported after overstaying his visa, so spoke good English with a black American accent. Petra was very hot but our guide was
informative and we took donkeys for a lot of the time inside. The hotel at Wadi Musa was excellent – a whole ‘house’ all to ourselves and again very atmospheric. The camp at Wadi Rum was well organised and the VIP tent was a bonus. We went for the obligatory camel ride at sunset with a nice young Bedouin and next day had the 4 hours in a 4WD, which was also very good. Aqaba was very hot and dusty but our driver organised a glass-bottomed boat for the afternoon and we had a very good snorkel on a coral bommy . We left Aqaba in a dust storm. We could see Eilat across the way which we will be going to in a week or so – silly having two cities so close never to mix. From Aqaba we could see Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Egypt.
Tel Aviv is like any western city, not that we have seen much of it. Rode to Jaffa today on the hotel’s loan bikes – it was hot and muggy so we took it easy.
So far the highlights of the trip have been in Syria and we couldn’t speak more highly of it as a destination, and Petra and Jerash (which was excellent). Tomorrow our guide is picking us up for the northern Israel part of the trip - Mark and Bindy
 
Syria/Jordan Trip 2009
Dear Tom,
Just a quick note to let you know how fabulous the trip was. Everything went very smoothly particularly in Syria and Lebanon , our guide in Syria was a lovely, extremely informative lady who was passionate about her country.
In Lebanon also, even though it was a brief stay, we had another lovely guide. They are hoping that more tourists start visiting Lebanon again so please spread the word to your clients. The rebuilding of Beirut is so impressive with beautifully restored buildings and the city has an air of sophistication. Our hotel was close to the sea and it was very pleasant to stroll along the Corniche that runs along by the sea. The food was excellent and we had lunch at some very nice places particularly in Damascus and Aleppo, beautiful restaurants with central courtyards and fountains.
Forgot to mention Dubai - quite amazing place but so artificial. We thoroughly enjoyed the Desert Safari, very exciting dune bashing and very nice meal. Wish we were still over there. Thanks again! Kind Regards, Maree and Greg.
 

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