From the Syrian oasis settlement of Palmyra (known locally as Tadmur) I faced 260km of empty desert to Damascus. Resisting the temptation to turn left for Baghdad, I pedalled furiously for two days, with only a couple of French motorbike tourists breaking the monotony, and arrived in the outskirts of Damascus early in the morning on the third day.
I didn’t really feel like getting lost and stressed in a big city so soon after leaving Istanbul. There was nothing of particular interest to me there; I knew I would find another cosmopolitan environment to contrast the simple, conservative living I’d encountered in the countryside, and I am not in the habit of sightseeing for the sake of it, in fact I generally avoid tourist areas like the plague. Maybe when I’m older and my knees have disintegrated I’ll have more reason to follow the well-worn trails, but not right now!