Marhaba Syria

Trip Start Aug 12, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Spring Flower Hotel

Flag of Syria  ,
Monday, October 5, 2009

Crossing the border from Turkey into Syria we were greeted by a sign, "Welcome to the cradle of civilisation and history!" And we have felt very welcome indeed.

Confession time: so we get to the ancient city of Aleppo, possibly the longest inhabited city in the entire world and our first stop was Costa coffee... Two iced lattes later we were ready for Syria proper.

Anyone familiar with the Daewoo Matiz may be as surprised as we were that this is the taxi of choice in Syria. Frankly not only can you not get any luggage in one, they buzz around the city like demented wasps making crossing the street a seriously time consuming and hazardous task.

Aleppo is a genuinely fascinating city, built around a stunning citadel and with the most amazing souk, a maze of alleys that in total covers over 16 kilometres.

The locals are forever shouting HELLO, and WELCOME and in some cases simply refusing to take our money for cups of tea or falafel wraps.

A well known joke in these parts: Who smokes more than a Syrian?

Two Syrians! They simply smoke an insane amount whether it be cigarettes, which it transpires only cost 60 pence per packet, or nargileh/sheeshah water pipes. Even the waiters smoke!

From Aleppo we visited the incredible Basilica of St Simeon where some barking bloke sat on top of a pillar for 40 years!

More intriguing were the incredibly well preserved Dead Cities where seemingly prosperous settlements were abandoned in the 5th century, yet nobody really knows why.

As for those people who feel that us Brits are a troublesome lot, it is with some degree of embarrassment that I have to report seeing T.E. Lawrence's unpaid bar bill in the Baron Hotel.
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