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Paul & Luiza´s World Tour

Syria(sly) - Aleppo (Citadel, Umayyad Mosque, Souk) & Crac de Chevalier Crusader Castle

SYRIA | Friday, 3 September 2010 | Views [2456]

Luiza in penguin outfit at Umayyad Mosque - Aleppo

Luiza in penguin outfit at Umayyad Mosque - Aleppo

Syria-sly? Are you Syrias??

Yeah, after 65 days in Greece and 32 days in Turkey, we are off to Syria. We leave Adana (southeastern Turkey) after 3 days of R & R as Paul needed to recover from a really bad flu.  When we were in Istanbul we tried to get a visa from the Syrian consulate, and were told that it was “impossible, unless you go back to your country”.  So, instead of giving up, as we had to do with Iran, we decided to try again at the Turkey-Syria border.  We left the hotel, and at the bus stop we met a very nice lady who spoke Turkish and German, and we had a long and interesting conversation, as we don’t speak either…  She paid for our bus ticket and made sure we got to the bus station all right.  Nice start to the day!

When we arrived at the border bus station, a guy who works for the bus company said it would take 5 minutes to get a visa for Australian passport holders, so Syria, here we come!!   We get to the border and it’s simpler than we expected.  US$90 each later and after having to see 5 different officials, we got our visas. Pretty cool!  

On to Aleppo (a four thousand year old city).  We end up in a fucking awful backpacker’s hostel (backpacked with Aussies, who by the way are the new English, they – we - are everybloodywhere).   The staff are very nice and helpful, but, to cut a long story short, we’re  47, not 22 anymore.  The hotel is from the 18th century and you can feel every year of it… Whatever, we go out to dinner, Ramadan special (a lot of food, not so special, but the restaurant is gorgeous and the staff really nice). Got some wine from Lebanon to drink in the room, not too bad and had a nice rest at the noisiest place ever.  The hostel was very well located if you are determined not to sleep at all.

Next morning, Grand Baazar, the Umayyad  Mosque and the Aleppo Citadel.   At the Mosque, I had to put on a full-on skirt/veil/top/sheet on top of my clothes.  Paul is laughing so hard he has a coughing fit, and here we go into the Mosque.  I think I look pretty cool, but you should know the size of the self-esteem by now…  One old guy beckons to Paul and makes signs that I look pretty hot in the sheet.  People are really nice and fun around here. The bazaar is great and we get 3 pashminas to send to the girls back home. The Citadel is also great, big and imposing over the nice city of Aleppo.  All pretty cool as per pics.  In the evening, we go out in search of the Christian Quarter, in our eternal quest for a cold beer.  After hours and hours walking, completely defeated, we go back to the same restaurant for some a la carte Indian kebab and saffron rice, not too bad indeed… No beer in sight, we go back for another night at our favourite hostel from hell.  Ciao Aleppo!

We get up early and I follow my man to see “the Crack” (Crac de Chevallier – Crusader Castle), he said we had to see “the Crack” and I just follow… So, we take a taxi to the bus station and a bus to Homs.  In a chaotic bus station, guess what happens? A guy comes to the rescue, “can I help you?”  they seem to always appear when you need them in Syria, we are EVER so grateful, even if you know you’ll end up paying for it $$$ somehow, it’s always a big relief to meet one of the “can I help you” guys. No worries, here we go. 

It’s midday, the next bus is at 3pm. I “spit the dummy” and say “fuck the crack” (sorry, had to use it).  But then, the nice guy, who speaks English well, also happens to be a cab driver who can take us there for just double of what the bus would be anyway (about $20)…

Anyway, the price is ok and off we go (Syria is not that expensive yet, not overflowing with tourists, people are very nice, friendly, fun and chatty and it’s not too hot.  Hey, did I mention it’s quite nice over here? You should come over before everybody else does).  We go to see the famous “Crac de Chevalier” (no K) and it’s an amazing medieval Crusader Castle, so well preserved, people say it’s as close as it’s gets to the “real thing”.  We wander around the place for a few hours and then go to yet another bus station to take an (alleged) bus to Palmyra.


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