October 09, 2010

1 September 2010 and 7 October 2010

If you're paying attention to the dates, you'll see that they cover a huge time span. I'm doing a double day post again, but because September is so short, I'm going to bore you by telling you what I did yesterday.


1 September 2010

The tour had quite a drive today. We drove from Aleppo in the north of Syria to the Krak de Chevaliers - Fort of the Knights.

The view from the camp ground (Image supplied by ACP)

Looking up to the main entrance today

The view from the doorway. I love the non-uniform line of the horizon

Ange and I in the doorway (Image supplied by ACP)
 But I do digress. I first need to write about the water wheels in Hama. These water wheels have been controlling and supplying the region with water for a few hundred years. They are massive structures and stand out as you drive / walk towards them. The wheels weren't on today though, so the area was a little fragrant.

Okay. Back to the Krak. These are some impressive ruins. This is also the only site I didn't google before leaving Australia. I think what makes them most interesting to me is the English history side of things. The history goes back to the Marmlukes, Ottomans, Turks etc. Each group adding something to the castle. All up there were seven of these fortresses with beacon houses between. If any castle was attacked the beacons were lit, and as they became visible, the next one was lit. Think Lord of the Rings and the call for Rohan to help Gondor. From the sheer height of the castle on the landscape it is easy to see how visible an invading party would have been.
Taken from the top, outer wall.
Our tour guide was a gent by the name of Walid. (Wal-eed). He was a strange, funny man. Very polite. He always had the elbow or the hand of one of the girls if there was a large step, or if he wanted you to lean over a high point to look at something. He seemed to be giving Ange extra attention so we teased her for that.
Ange and Walid
I found the size of the stairs incredible. You could stand next to one and have it almost reach your knee. When you also know from history, the men on the battlements (perhaps more so the English) were not that much taller than me at 5'4". I might have been considered tall for once. But to know they would have been running at speed, some in full armour is amazing.

We had each other in stitches on the wall. Walid had shown us areas in the wall where the castles defenders would poor burning oil onto the attackers, which, was then followed by three holes where the men went to toilet. Of course this led to what happens when you run out of oil type questions and photo oportunities.
Bruno - Ange - Agnes using the facilities. Not sure on Bruno's pained expression.
The other thing we were laughing at shouldn't need much explaining if I simply put Monty Python and the Holy Grail - with a little bit of Life of Brian thrown in for good measure. The other two, kept glaring at us like we were naughty children.

The best part for me was going into the rooms that were once Richard the Lionhears living quarters. A huge, spacious area where you can imagine him in his livery, attended by trusted friends and advisors, working out what the next best move would be.
Me in Richard the Lionhearts living quarters. No idea why I'm flailing my hands. Also note the infamous green shirt.

You can also see on the roof, the circular outline of Richards round table. It is truely amazing to be that close to a history you've known since you were a kid.

We camped the night at the Krak.

7 October 2010

Ange and I set off in search of Harry Potter film locations. We headed to Turnpike Lane tube station and taking the Picadilly Line, headed for Kings Cross St Pancras. When we got to the stop we wandered around trying to find Platform 9 3/4 but weren't having any luck. We were about to ask when we overheard two other girls asking the same question. We followed them and came to what we wanted.

After Platform 9 3/4 we headed back to the Tube. The above four photos are self explanatory.

The next part of the walk led us past Australia House, or as it's known in the movies, Gringott's Bank.

Our path led us next to St Mary la Strand church. The parents of Charles Dickens got married here.

"The church stands on the site of the old May-pole where the May-day festivals were held in medieval times. But in 1517, on what became known as "Evil May-day", rioting broke out around the May-pole on Strand, and the London Apprentices went on the rampage to protest at the ever increasing number of foreigners that were settling in London. It took three weeks for order to be restored and thereafter the May-day celebrations began to lose their lustre until they were ended altogether by Cromwell's Commonwealth and the May-pole was taken down." Harry Potter Tours http://www.the-magician.co.uk/harry-potter-tours.htm

We then went to Somerset House and played in the fountains.

To finish the day we went met up with the girls for a quick drink before heading to the theatre. As we came out of the club we'd gone to for a drink we walked past James May from Top Gear. I'm kicking myself now that I didn't go over and ask for a photo. Oh well. Soho will be there for a while yet and I'm not going anywhere.

The play we went to is called "Ghost Stories" - I use present tense because the show is going to run into the new year. It is fantastic, and I wish everyone could go and see it. Very clever and not overly scary, even though there were a few screamers in the audience. It is also nice to know how protective my cousin is. As she was getting a huge fright and jumping backwards in her seat, she was also turning to grab me from harms way. Such love.

And that's it for now.

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