I woke up in morning – my fears from the night before about being decapitated turned out false.
Walking out on the street to crap some quick breakfast and a fruit juice – they know how to make their juice in Syria. You soon realize this is a very conservative part of Syria. Many of the women are dressed in black covered from head to toe – they look a bit like Darth Wader impersonators. How anybody have managed to come up with a dress code like this in a country with a summer temperature of 40+ is a mystery to me – I am already starting to sweat in the morning despite my short sleeves.
I am going on a walking tour of the old city in Aleppo.
The first stop is the covered market or suq. It is big the streets just go on for ever it seems. They are very narrow and on the small stalls they seem to be selling everything. The narrow roads could turn into a bit of a problem when three small cars carrying goods had to pass each other at an intersection. There were no way they could pass each other and none of the drivers wanted to give way to the other two. After a bit of a standstill they somehow managed to wrinkle pass each other and carry on down the streets.
They got all kind of different spices I don’t even no the name of and other stuff I have never seen before like camel meat. They also sell really nice weeding dresses at a barging rate of only 60 dollars – a tip if you need to save a bit on the dress.
Then it is of to the grand mosque of town.
It a very impressive looking building – but the Muslim tradition of walking barefoot on the stone in the courtyard is not all that practical. The courtyard is in the middle of the sun and the stones are hot – even if you walk on the white stones they are hot – hence you walk quickly searching for shade.
For some unknown reason the tour guide thought it would be really good if we visited the centre where divorced parents came to see there kinds. In the middle the grand parents come with the grand children so they every 14 days can see there other parent – there we went and the guide tried to chat to a local man who came to visit his baby child for the first time in 14 days. And the guide wanted to the group to take photos of this – I like almost everybody else just wanted to get out of there – that was too much invasion of privacy.
Then it would be off to see one of the baths in Aleppo could be a nice place to actually get a good bath – especially considering the state of the bathroom in my hotel.
After the tour it was of to do a bit more of wandering around in the town. For dinner I would try out a little falafel place close to the hotel. There I went and tried to buy some stuff – not the easiest communication in the world but it turned out ok until I wanted to pay. I had no idea what the price would be but I thought it could not be more than 100 Syrian pound about 2 US$. Hence I tried first to pay the kind who had served my – he would not take my money. Then I tried the old man outside at the cash register – or more precisely on old draw.
I tried to give him the 100 pound note expecting him to take it and give me some change. But he refused.
I tried again to tell him I wanted to know the price of what I bought and pay him.
He refused again.
I tried a third time to make him take my money – same result he said no no.
Ok I thought there must be something wrong with my sign language but I will try one more time. Again the old man refused and this time he gave me a business card and clearly signalled for me to go away.
I left the place pretty confused why didn’t they want my money – all the locals paid. I felt a bit embarrassed knowing I probably earned 5-10 or 20 times what they were making at the footstall. Then I met up with some other people and they had been to the same place and could tell a similar story they did not pay. For some strange reason her in Aleppo tourist was such a novelty that the locals seem to take them as an interesting event and not as a target for overcharging.
This blog entry is originally written after a trip through Syria a decade ago. I reread it recently and remember the trip with joy. I decide to repost the blog entries with the hope peace will return to Syria and it will once again become the wonderful country it was during my visit.