Syria is lovely: the people smile, welcome you and show you around; the food is fresh and rich in flavour; the hot air is thick with humidity (just how I like it); and the streets are a chaotic mix of ancient buildings and modern development.
After a relaxed morning I met some other travellers who plan to join the tour and wandered towards the Old City. First stop was the Great Mosque, a marvellous arched courtyard and spacious prayer hall filled with men studying the Quran. Peaceful and community-oriented, this space is a welcomed retreats from the bustling streets.
Then, to the Citadel, a grand walled structure atop a man-made mound surrounded by an impressive (but empty) moat. Originally constructed from 364BC, and modified, expanded and renovated throughout the ages, this stone castle is largely in ruins but provides one of the most impressive city views I have ever seen. From the Citadel walls my eyes stretched across the smoggy brown city, taking in all the brightly coloured mosque domes and majestic minarets. I was surprised to see how large this city is; it seems to span to the horizon.
After the Citadel, I wandered the colourful souqs. Now this is my kind of shopping. Halls upon ancient halls of textiles, silver, food, clothes…you name it, it’s there. While many comparisons can be drawn between the Aleppo souqs and Istanbul’s grand Bazaar, the souqs here offer a more authentic cultural experience, with vendors seeming a little surprised to see a tourist walk past. I bargained my feet into a pair of Syrian made sandals. Tomorrow I plan to bargain my way into a lot more!
But now, to dinner in a quaint piano bar I stumbled across in the Christian Quarter.
I will keep you posted next time I find internet.