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Paul & Luiza´s World Tour

Syria - Damascus (Umayadd Mosque, Souk, Azem Palace, Christian Quarter and Ananias Chapel)

SYRIA | Thursday, 9 September 2010 | Views [1412]

It's the albino monk from the Da Vinci Code!!!

It's the albino monk from the Da Vinci Code!!!

Damascus – the Brazilian connection…

We take a 3 hour (big and nice) bus to Damascus, get here by lunchtime and check into an awful pretentious little shitty get-me-outta-here backpackers hostel.  They charge for the use of the internet and for the second “Nescafe” you have for breakfast.  The room is nasty (bed and shower/toilet only) and yet, the backpackers walk around as if they are God’s gift to tourism, what’s wrong with this people?  So, first thing we go out to look for another hotel for tomorrow.

We found a really nice hotel (cheaper and much nicer, free internet, satellite TV, air-con, mini-bar, pretty sure they won’t charge me for a second serve of coffee at breakfast, and the staff actually smile), it’s time to see Damascus.  We go to the Bazaar, not as good as Aleppo, a lot of “made in China” stuff, but still ok.  We see the big Mosque, very beautiful and imposing, and they give me a funny monk-like robe to wear, not as flattering as the one in Aleppo though.  Then we walk around the amazing old city of Damascus.  History is everywhere, you can just walk around for days, soaking up the atmosphere, and we do just that.  So, we walk around for like, 7 hours, seeing everything, sniffing around like hound dogs into every little hole and talking to the very nice and very funny Syrian people.

So, after walking around for hours and hours, we go back to our “eternal quest for a cold beer”.  Ok, we understand its Ramadan, but we were told we could get a beer in the (you guessed it) Christian Quarter.   So, we keep going around the old city, asking everybody where it is, almost getting there, then we meet Mr Mauricio.  Mr Mauricio is an older gentlemen who’s been to Brazil twice, has family in Brazil and loves the place. He speaks English and French fluently and takes us to a restaurant/bar where we ACTUALLY have a cold beer (or six).   We want to buy him a drink, but it’s no, thank you, and Mr Mauricio gives us caramels before he leaves.  Such a nice man, feel like getting to know him better, I’m sure he’s got lots of nice stories to tell.

Talking about “nice man”, after talking to the waiter, we meet Andre a Syrian guy who lived in Brazil for 5 years and loves the place, speaks fluent Portuguese and happens to be the owner of the restaurant where we are having a beer (or six).  He is a civil engineer and is finishing his MBA.  We invited him to join us and have a great long chat, he buys us a couple of beers and we talk about Brazil, Syria, restaurants and business visas, trips and meat cuts, a really great evening.   He gave us his card and numbers and said if we need anything while we’re in Damascus, to call him.   Andre rocks!  Anyway, taxi back to bad hotel, the driver is a cute old bloke who offers us cigarettes and Halls.  Change hotels in the morning. Ah, so much nicer and cheaper!

And walk around we do in old Damascus, what a great feeling, what a great place. Today we found the Bismaritan Al Nouri Hospital, now a museum of medicine and science, but originally the first teaching hospital in the world (the same one as in the book - The Physician, by Noah Gordon).  We are very excited to find it, only to find out it’s closed for the Eid holiday (end of Ramadan), and so is the museum.  Now on to Ananias Chapel. Story from Bible goes like this - Saul (later St Paul) was sent to bring back Christians to Israel for persecution but on the way he was blinded by God (had scales on his eyes). St Ananias was visited by God and told to visit Saul in Damascus and he converted him. Paul then went on to become a Saint etc. 

Ok, after lots of wondering around old Damascus, and falafel sanwdiches we leave Syria for Lebanon.


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