A tour of the capital of one of the "Axis of Evil" states.
Saturday 26 March 2011 - Saturday 26 March 2011
Friday 25 March - Having said that, whilst half of the group were on a long day trip to Lebanon, the remainder of us were not allowed to go into Damascus centre due the demonstrations they were holding. Thus we hung around the camp site and local area. We found all sorts of shops with great people in them. One cake and pastry shop owner refused point blank to accept any money for some sweets and chocolate eclairs we bought from him. We offered several times but he would not take any cash.
Saturday 26 March - Into Damascus to visit the Umayyad Mosque. This is one of the holiest places in Islam. It contains the body of Saladin (1138-1193), one of the greatest heroes in Kurdish, Arab and Moslem history. The place is huge and very popular with locals and tourists, both western and Arabian and Iranian. However it is possible to find a quiet corner and just observe the people wandering past, praying, posing for photos against some of the magnificent mosaic work, practising their English on tourists (a father and his two daughters did exactly that to me) and generally taking it all in.
Jordan and Erin modelling the required clothing.
The tomb of Saladin.
The main courtyard of the Umayyad mosque.
Ablutions fountain in the mosque's main courtyard.
More artistic details.
An arty black and white picture of the mosque's courtyard.
Details of the decoration in the mosque.
The main prayer hall.
Pilgrims and tourists at Umayyad Mosque.
From there we wandered around the vast Souq al-Bzouriyya, including Straight Street. You could spend days getting lost in the rabbit warren of streets, lanes and shops, selling everything from spices to tea and coffee to blankets to clothes and everything in between.
An old bit of town.
The statue of Saladin outside Damascus' citadel.
I was on dinner duty again and our group managed to produce a very good meal from the vegetables and tins of stuff we bought from the local markets up the road. The people here are some of the friendliest we met on our trip and are extremely happy to see tourists in their country.