Tartous and Amrit
Tartous felt a bit like mediterranian Europe
As I was too late to the bus station in Homs (7pm) to catch the last bus to Tartous, I asked a taxi driver how much he wanted for the nearly 2 hour trip. When he said 20$ I just said okay and two minutes later we were on our way. Syria is dirt cheap at the moment, and the bus there would have cost me less than a couple of dollars.
Argentinian Herba Mate, everywhere
As soon as I arrived in a coffee shop in Tartous, I noticed how everyone, absolutely everyone were drinking maté, which I previously only had seen in South America. Apparently there were lots of Syrians going to Argentina during the previous war, who had come back with the herbs and special straws that you need for this traditional drink. My host said that he would never drink water, but would use the same cup to drink up to 100 small matés every day.
A photoshopped version of the beach
What the real weather was like
Tartous was a city that had been untouched by the war. It felt very much like a mediterranian city in Europe and my host told me that the city was popular for beach tourists before the war. It was mind blowing to hear that even throughout the war, there would be straw huts selling drinks and partiets on the beach every night. Tartous had 5 star resorts, lots of bars, cafés and restaurants and I think it is safe and ready for tourism to return there.
Good athmosphere as they were lighting the Christmas tree
Tartous is an important harbour for Syria today, but 4-5000 years ago the most important harbour was located about 10km South of the Tartous, in the Phoenican town of Amrit. I went there on a day trip with a taxi to see the remaining ruins, including what is said to be the oldest sports stadium in the World.
There were two sites, and none of them seemed to be maintained very well. Except for some old military vehicles there were just sheep wandering around. Syria has so many gems where you can be guaranteed to be the only one exploring them.