Damascus & Maloula

Trip Start Apr 10, 2010
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Trip End Nov 29, 2010


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Flag of Syria  ,
Monday, May 17, 2010

We got back into Syria quite painlessly sharing a taxi with an old Arab couple. We get dropped in the hotel district. Erin minds the bag whilst Mark tries to find the hotel we want to stay in. It is fully booked out but we find a room in another recommended hotel which has a lot of old world charm and is a great price.

We head out for old town, exploring the souqs and succumbing to a pistachio-topped ice-cream from the busy Bakdash sweet shop. We look around the Great Umayaad Mosque and then have a tea at a famous coffee shop. It is famous for the presence of a dramatic story teller each night. It is a pity his tales are in Arabic but the thumping of his cane on the ground is still a sight worth seeing.

Dinner is at Al Khawali restaurant, a personal favourite of the Syrian president who takes world leaders there for dinner. The food and service was fantastic, and in our budget.

The next day starts with a Syrian tradition of locating one of the few ATMs in Syria. The hotel receptionist cuts our discovery time to less than half an hour. We then set off to explore Maloula.

Maloula is famous for it's Christian monasteries, crazy for a very Muslim country. It is one of only 3 small towns (population around 2,000) that still speaks Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ. Part of this relates to the geography of Maloula with its position in a deep valley under steep cliffs. There are statues of Jesus and Mary on the top of the cliffs.

We explore the East Gaps, narrow canyons that enter Maloula then feeling adventurous climb to the top of one of the cliffs for a view of the Statue of Jesus and Maloula. The mythological story of the Gaps is that St Takla was being persecuted so she prayed to escape. The steep cliffs then split to allow her to escape.

We find a great local pizza shop that is very cheap then hike to the second monastery. It’s then time to head back to Damascus for another nice dinner and our final night in Syria.
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