Tartous: Sea, Sun, Sand and Riveting Scenery

Syrian families and local tourists like to visit the Syrian Coast to spend their holidays and enjoy the charming climate and the fantastic weather. Some families like the seashore and its chalets, others like the city’s hotels and restaurants where they can find nice seafood and local dishes while others like to go the mountains, cliffs, valleys, streams, springs and forests to enjoy fresh air and the spectacular views.

Most , if not all, of tourist families and people prefer to rent a chalet by the sea when they arrive at the governorate of Tartous.

 

A’amir, a 45-year-old, Damascene trader came with his wife, two children and his parents to the Blue Bay Resort, located at the south of Tartous city. During an interview in the Resort, A’amir said to Syria Times:

 “ Every year in summer, we come to Tartous city to spend our holidays. We spend a few days at the Blue Bay Resort and visit some good restaurants where we can have good sea food,” A’amir said.

“I know many Damascene families prefer to come to Tartous which is closer to Damascus, about a 3 hour drive. The route is very good and secure. The city of Tartours is not crowded as is the city of Latakia. So, I prefer to come to Tartous. I will book three nights for the next Adha Eid. I have a week off in the Eid and it is good to come to the sea and enjoy the  fresh air and calm by the sea,” A’amir said while sipping on his cold icy soft drink next to the swimming pool. 

After hours of swimming in the sea and swimming pools, the Syrian tourist families like to spend their evening and night time at Tartous Corniche where  there are nice restaurants, coffee shops, and fast food shops.

Abu Mahmoud, a 50-year-old resident from Homs city, came with his wife and three sons and daughter to spend a few days in the city of Tartous.

 “ I like to spend  the daytime swimming and sitting by the sea, but in the evening it is good to have some local food. Here in Tartous, they make roasted chicken with garlic, lemon and olive oil in addition to the fried and roasted fish with hot sauce, and Fattoush with fresh green oregano.  After a good dinner, I like to take some tea and smoke Narjellah “water pipe”  with my wife,” Abu Mahmud said while he was smoking his Narjellah and drinking his tea at the Tartous Corniche.

 “All people were tired of staying home during the curfew because of Coronavirus. I think it is good time to come to spend some days in Tartous which takes only one hour of driving from Homs city,” Abu Mahmoud added.

During Fridays, a large number of Tartous locals- Muslim residents and tourists- meet together to take part in the Friday ceremony in the city’s mosque, specially the old mosques in the Old Town of Tartous, opposite to the Corniche.

The mosques’ imams and employees take serious preemptive measures to tackle the coronavirus. They freely distribute face masks to all prayers who also have to sterilize their hands when they enter the mosque. The Imam preaches for  10 minutes to minimize the time of prayer in the mosque.

Mohammad, a 43-year-old Damascene tourist, prays Firday Prayers in the Omari Mosque in the Old Town of Tartous.

“There is a Syrian proverb says, one hour for God and one hour for your entertainment. I spent whole day swimming and eating and I like to spend one hour praying at  the Friday ceremony,” Mohammad said while he was leaving the Mosque. 

Most of Syrian and non-Syrian tourists like to buy souvenirs and gifts from the coastal city of Tartous.

Abu Ali, a 65-year-old retired governmental employee, runs a stall near the Tartous Corniche where he sells hand-made clay bottles, straw baskets, straw chairs, wooden spoons, clay glasses for Matta (local herbs) and others.

“I come every day to run this stall to sell these souvenirs and gifts. The Coronavirus and curfew measures negatively affected my work but Alhamdulillah that my family members and I are healthy,” Abu Ali said while he was making coffee and welcoming buyers with his smiley face.  

After a few days at the sea and city, many families like to go out to the Tartous’ rural areas and mountains where they can find fresh air, water springs and green forests.

Syria Times’ reporters visit the O’agan region, 14kms northeast of Safita town, 40km eastern Tartous city, where the O’agan spring and river flow among green charming views of fresh blue water and green trees.

George Temony (Abu Talal), a 65-year-old, native son of Safita, runs a nice restaurant with his wife Um Talal who makes a lovely local dish of Bulgur with Hommos (cracked wheat with chickpeas ) with roasted chicken and green Salad, Fattoush and other Syrian appetizers. 

Abu Talal welcomed the visitors and tourists who come to his simple traditional restaurant where they sit and eat next to the River.

“Most of my visitors come from Damascus, Homs and Tartous city looking for nice simple traditional food which is made by my wife and local cooks,” Abu Talal said.

 “People are tired of crowded cities and they want to spend sometimes in simple nature where there are rivers, springs and trees,” Abu Tala said.

Syria is characterized by its charming nature and its hospitable people which usually makes it a destination for a large number of tourists. But, the 9-year crisis in Syria and the novel Coronavirus pandemic has affected the Syrian tourism sector. It’s noteworthy that the government in general and the private sector in particular seek to overcome the obstacles facing this vital sector. 

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Reported by: Obaida Hamad/ Inas Abdulkareem

Photos by: Obaida Hamad