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Up ] Victoria to Tripoli ] [ Tripoli ] Sabratha ] Leptis Magna ] Jamahiriya Museum ] Benghazi ] Eclipse Day ]


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March 24, 2006 - Friday - Tripoli - After our arrival at the hotel, Ralph quickly assigns a roommate for those of us in the group who are traveling alone, and then we all disappear to get some well-deserved bed rest after our long journey from Canada.

Tripoli is a very interesting city: very large, very Arabic, and very well developed. The city and the rest of the country are interesting, mainly because so many cultures have occupied this area. Oea was the Roman name for the city, and the Phonecians were here before the Romans.  The Ottoman Turks were here for over two hundred years, however eventually the Arabs took the place over once they ousted armies from those terrible Italians!  King Idris was ushered in by the United Nations after WWII, and then 27 year old Mu'ammar Gaddafi seized power on September 1, 1969 without ever stepping foot in the country.  By the way, "The Man" is not talked about in polite company by Libyans.

Tripoli harbour - a panoramic

Early morning dawn over Tripoli

Portrait of Mu'ammar Gaddafi in lobby of Bab al-Bahar hotel, Tripoli

Cruise ship in Tripoli Harbour. Old man sitting by lagoon.

Modern towers on the Tripoli waterfront

Bab al-Bahar hotel, Tripoli

March 25, 2006 - Saturday - Sabratha -  It's 6:30am when I wake up, and when I stick my head out the hotel window, I hear the Muslims being called to worship by chanting coming through loudspeakers in minaret towers placed around the city.

Today we travel to the ancient Roman city of Sabratha, about 80km west of Tripoli.

March 26, 2006 -  Sunday - Leptis Magna - Today we travel to the ancient Roman city of Leptis Magna, just over 100km east of Tripoli.

Mohammed (our Numidia Tour bus driver); Ralph Chou (RASC Group Leader); Fatid (Numidia Tour Leader)It looks like Fatid will be our tour leader throughout our stay in Libya, and again, we also have a member of the Tourist Police on board. Part way to Leptis Magna we pass through a security check point, and papers are given to the officials before we proceed.

On the return trip back to Tripoli we pass through two more checkpoints. As we travel in Libya over the coming days, we become used to these check points.  It appears Libyan citizens are not free to travel their country unless they have good reason to do so.  I expect if their papers are not in order, they will be turned around and sent back at these check points.

There are lots of olive trees along the highways around Tripoli. Sheep are sometimes being grazed in the olive groves, and are always being watched by shepherds. I even spotted a sheep dog once!

Olive groves along the highway
Olive groves along the highway
Apartment building
Apartment building
Hardware store
Hardware store

This afternoon, I joined three of our group for a walk through the Souk (market) in the Medina (old city). This evening, there was a Tuareg cultural display across the street from the hotel, so after dinner a few of our group walk over to see the displays. The Tuarag women were very camera shy, so I put my camera away.  Later in the evening there is Tuarag folkloric dancing and singing, and our little group end up being the guests of honour. Despite it being very dark, I take some movies with my Nikon 4500 and hope for the best.

Tuarag Cultural Festival in Tripoli, Libya - music and dancers
from JoeTourist InfoSystems on Vimeo.


March 27, 2006 - Monday - Tripoli to Benghazi - This morning Fatid takes us on a walking tour of the Medina, which included a tour of the Souk. I took several photos in the Souk today because it was less busy. I'm very cautious of avoiding taking photos of local people whose faces would be recognizable. The Tuarag women last night were shielding themselves from any cameras.  I know Arabs do not like their photos to be taken, especially women.

Shopping in the Tripoli Souk

Beans and spices in the Tripoli Souk

Entrance to the Medina (Old City), and the new city visible in the background

Roman Arch of Marcus Aurilius (AD 163-164) with Minaret tower in background, Tripoli

Minaret tower framed by arched entrance to Tripoli street

Inner courtyard in Old City building

RASC Eclipse Group having refreshment in the Tripoli Souk

Libyan soup
, Safir Restaurant (recipe)

The main street of the Tripoli Souk

Joe wearing a Ghutra and Igal in the Sahara DesertBottled water from the Great Man made RiverOn the way back to our hotel, we stopped at the Safir Restaurant for lunch. One of the other tour guides joined us at our table, so I asked him what one litre of gas costs in Libya. He said most cars use diesel, which costs 0.15 Dinar/litre (0.09/litre). Later, Fatid helped me find some Arab headgear: a Ghutra (fabric) and an Igal (rope) to go with it in the men's wear section of the Souk just before it closed, so I now have a "Lawrence of Arabia" head cover to wear when we get to the desert. I will probably use it during the eclipse observations to ward off the expected hot temperatures.

We are told that Libya has about 40 years of oil supply left, and coincidentally, they also have about 40 years of water supply left.  Our bottled water comes from the Great Manmade River - a water supply system that pipes water from deep in the Sahara to the coastal cities in a huge network of aqueducts.

After lunch, we went to the airport to catch our flight to Benghazi. It was controlled chaos, since we had to sort out our luggage, some of which was brought on a separate bus. Then we were all checked in as a group, since the Numidia tour operator held all our local Libyan airline tickets. The flight to Benghazi was on a Buraq Air Boeing 737-300. We departed on time, cruised at 29,000ft, and cruised at 460kt. The flight was 90% full of Bestway Tours' three groups.

March 28-30 - Eclipse Camp, Sahara Desert

March 31, 2006 - Friday - After breakfast this morning we walk through Tripoli to the  Jamahiriya Museum.

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