March 23. - April 2. 2006
We just returned from our trip to Libya.
The main reason to visit Libya was to view the total solar eclipse on March 29. at a favorable location in the Sahara desert and of course do some serious sight-seeing along the way. About 7000 Eclipse watchers (this seemed to be the number given) from all over the world came together at the many desert camps, which were specially set up for the event. Being part of this enormous temporary invasion, we toured Tripoli and the nearby ancient ruins of Sabratha and Leptis Magna, Cyrene near Benghazi and simply took in the sights and sounds around us along the way and sampled the local cuisine.
Our local outfitter 'Taknes' had everything well organized, no complaints on our part, this trip ran smoothly.
The Libyans were very friendly and tried their utmost to make us feel safe and comfortable. Special thanks to Salah! The desert camp was well equipped and protected, we even saw fireworks the first night. Three meals a day were to be had in a huge mess tent in several shifts, everybody had plenty of food which was dispensed by a large cheerful staff. And no, the beef served then was not camel :-) read on below.
I posted lots of pictures here. Since I simply exported all the files from I Photo in a smaller format without renaming them or further manipulating them, I will give some details here:
four of us arrived one day ahead of the other ca. 40 travelers in our group. Dinner was at a local fish market, the restaurant was called the Blue Ship ( I think) and it was roomy and very nice inside. We chose our own fish, which was grilled over open flames and served along with fresh bread and local soup, a plate of very delicious finely chopped salads, olives, hummus and french fries.
We had dinner there also with the whole group at another time.
5 and 6
view from our Hotel room at the 7. floor of Al Wahat
7 - 46
stroll through Tripoli, including the old town. Friday is a holiday, most stores were closed. ( Like our Sundays here)
39 - 42
excellent lunch next to the Marcus Aurelius Arch. The waiter is opening the Azzar ( spelling? it means ancient) he hit the clay pot just so to crack it. This is Lamb over Couscous, it was delicious.
45 our hotel
46 Cary/fellow traveler
47 to 109 Sabratha
111 - 113 back to Tripoli, walking through the old town, this time stores were open. No time given for shopping, we lost Klaus here, he walked back to the hotel by himself.
114 -158 and 163
visiting the museum in Tripoli. Here are the original ancient statues one finds depicted in books. I wish the names would have been posted in English translations, but then the Three Graces or Athena and others are well recognized?
The mosaics were well preserved and amazing.
161-165 more pics of Tripoli
166, 167 flying to Benghazi.
We were escorted from the airport to our hotel by a police car. We always drove escorted every time in and out of Benghazi, sometimes with an unmarked truck following us, for about an hour each way. We were discouraged from leaving the brand new gorgeous hotel on our own in the evening. But since the hotel was at the edge of town anyway, we didn't mind.
168 - 171 the Al Wahat in Benghazi
172 - 185 driving to Cyrene
186 - 310 Cyrene
this includes the Temple of Zeus 281 and starting at 289 the ancient port of Apollonia.
272 is a huge bush of Rosemary
312 - 340 driving to Jalu, our camp was located 85 km south of Jalu and then 8.4 km off the highway into the desert.
Some pitstops along the way, camels transported by truck, ( we learned they are used for food and milk, I can say from personal experience, the meat could have used some tenderizing procedure before preparing the nice Tagine dish. It tasted similar to beef) Date palms planted into the desert. We could see them growing in irrigated rows along the highway.
341 - 401 arriving at about 4:30 pm at our campsite. This group of pics includes our eclipse site. I only took a few pictures during totality, but perhaps I can convey the whole feel of a total solar eclipse here. The totality lasted 3 min. and 56 seconds, the corona was beautiful and the diamond ring magnificent.
391 Tim's face showed the shape of the sun through the weave in his straw hat, (We didn't have any vegetation to follow the progress of the event.)
402 - 414 back by bus to Benghazi. ( By plane back to Tripoli)
415 - 418 cruise ships in Tripoli after watching the eclipse.
419 - 548 Leptis Magna and the museum at Leptis Magna. The site shows an unusual amount of visitors, the eclipse chasers are now taking in the most interesting and wonderful site.
549 driving the 125 km back to Tripoli, lots of Olive groves and interesting road sides.
560 and 561 one last walk around Tripoli.
Walking through the ancient ruins was very enjoyable. Aside from listening to the guide's lectures and taking in the historical content, I was delighted to discover the many different beautiful wildflowers. The interesting ruins were simply smothered with pretty flowers, but they didn't overgrow them and that added to the allover experience.
If one wanted to find out more about Sabratha, Leptis Magna and Cyrene, I found wikipedia a good place to start.
Hope you enjoy the tour as much as we did,