At breakfast, I discover that the hotel boasts a spectacular view over the ruins. It's another early start, but happily it turns out the driver has a Plan to reduce driving time. He takes a short - and crazily bumpy - cut through a Bedouin town, with only a few brief stops to ask directions. The short cut gets us onto a route which is clearly unsuitable for coaches (and it's not clear it's suitable for us), giving us a head start on the way to Ar Rasafeh.

Our driver's eagerness to reach the destination despite the road conditions mean that it's only two hours before we reach the remains of the ninth century BC city Ar Rasafeh. Not bad for a ruined city, but to be honest, I'm starting to get a littled ruined out.

We're underway again shortly afterwards, heading north toward the Euphrates. An hour or so later, we're waiting to be admitted into the restricted area around the Tabqa Dam, a four-and-a-half kilometre long dam over the Euphrates. Sadly, photos aren't allowed on pain of getting shot.

We're actually here for a boat trip on the reservoir created by the dam - Lake Assad. There's a citadel, Qal'at Ja'bar, which used to be on a hill and is now an island in the lake. It's a pleasant afternoon float on the still lake on what is a fishing boat for the rest of year. The boat ride is followed by a meal of lake fish before we're ready to turn around, head back over the dam and towards Aleppo.

It's a long and tedious drive into Aleppo which I pass by catching up on News Quizzes. We arrive into Aleppo after dark, which doesn't hinder us from discovering an appetising dinner of Greek salad, Shish Kebab and delicious Al Shark beer.

I've clearly picked up some sort of illness in Syria. I've had a stubborn sore throat for a few days which is refusing either to die down or to develop into a proper cold. More concerningly, my legs have started to ache so badly at night that I can only sleep in a couple of designated positions, and rolling over results in excruciating pain.

I treat the condition with my usual level of urgency. And painkillers.

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