Aleppo and goodbye Syria

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April 6th 2011
Published: April 6th 2011
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Aleppo was our last stop in Syria and I was very surprised by the sheer size of the city when we first arrived in Aleppo a lot of people on our bus were surprised to get dropped off away from a hotel in what at first look looked like a unfriendly neighborhood in Aleppo but the streets only looked so deserted and the hundreds of shops lining the street were all closed because it was Friday and most places close in Syria on Friday for Friday prayers. After a brief walk down some side streets and allies we found our secluded hotel which was actually a courtyard of old houses converted into a hotel. The hotel itself was beautiful and after we settled in we were off on another orientation walk throughout the old city and ended up at another fantastic restaurant in Syria where we had a set menu for about 6 dollars each the set menu included a very rich lentil soup, salad, six other mezza (appetizers) , a main course, and even a fruit bowl for desert. Due to the drinks before dinner and over eating way too much I was solidly in a food comma and I'm not sure how I managed to finish the walk back to the hotel before I passed out.

The next morning we walked to a soap factory that still makes soap the same way they did a thousand years ago. After the soap factory we visited a hospital converted into a museum which was fairly creepy when you would walk into the dark caged rooms difficult or mental patients were locked in. Before walking to the Aleppo citadel we took a brief visit to the grand mosque which one again filled me with respect for the rich Muslim religion, and left me pondering how wrong many westerners are about mosques and the people who visit them.

The highlight of Aleppo for me was the amazing food but a close second was the Aleppo citadel. The citadel was nowhere near as impressive as Krek Des Chevaliers since it had been severely damaged in an earthquake but its sheer size was enough to give a feel of just how much work and though would have to go into such a massive fort.

Syria Wrap up

Syria has been a great experience and one of the big surprises on this trip. I expected to see beautiful mosques and architecture, large markets with regular and exotic wares, and food vastly different from anything I ate at home. Just like Egypt and Jordan I was partially right, I did see beautiful mosques but I wasn't prepared for the fact those mosques had such a great respect for Christianity dating back thousands of years back when they were built with carvings of Jesus on a wall, and a shrine to John the Baptist where they believe his head is buried. I did see large market with regular and exotic wares but I was not prepared for how openly less conservative items would be sold, and how Palestinian the shopkeepers would be after traveling in Egypt I had gotten used to the hassle you get every time you were close to someone's store, it was great feeling like the asking price wasn't an attempt to rip me off. Even though I enjoy a variety of food I did not expect to like the local and traditional food in Syria, once again I was wrong and the seven days we spent in Syria were the perfect example every meal we had was incredibly rich with amazing meat and vegetables sending the majority of our group into a food coma after every meal we ate out. Damascus is a very interesting city and I do not think you can do it justice in 3 days and 2 nights, but than again almost everywhere I have gone on this trip I could have spent much more time.

I took one last look at the Syrian flag as we crossed the border into Turkey.

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