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For more on our adventures & the amazing people we met in Syria, please visit my personal blog.  This is one I left there a few days ago.

We would often leave Old Damascus by hailing taxis from Bab Sharqi, which means Eastern Gate. It’s one of the seven ancient city-gates of Damascus and the one we saw every day as it was closest to the hostel. We could leave this gate by car or walk along the outside of the wall. It’s along this wall that we could reach our hostel by ladder.

Bab Sharqi is a short walk from the church
that honors the apostle Paul
(See second & third pictures here.)

This is a view across the road.

I think the sign says something about Coke being good with food. Some people boycott American products because they believe our major corporations pay high taxes and they know Israel receives billions of US tax money. They do not want to support their enemy in the slightest way so they avoid American goods.

Here is a car wash across the street from the hostel. Note the cute little yellow taxi. We rode in those nearly every day. Most all of the taxi drivers were sociable and many said one word we understood well: “Obama!” One driver asked Samer if we were sympathetic to the Arabs whereas another declared us “friendly” (because of our smiles) and wished he had a day off so he could spend it with us. He is the one who didn’t want to charge us for taking us to Anas Restaurant. (Don’t worry, we paid him.) Taxi rides were cheap in Syria and bus rides were even cheaper.

Pictures from Damascus, Syria
January/February 2009


Today I will tell you how we got to our hostel in Old Damascus. First of all, here is a view from the street which runs in front of the hostel. Yes, that’s a horse-drawn cart among the crowd of taxis and mini-buses and other vehicles. I would enjoy peering out of the window just to see who was happening by at any given moment.


This is the long way to our hostel. It’s about ten minutes from the busy road you just saw. Typically taxis would drop us off at Bab Sharqi (the tall white thing in the center of first picture),

and we’d walk down these narrow streets in the Bab Touma neighborhood

which cars and buses would brave at times.

Welcome to The Damascus Hostel! This is probably the most interesting place I’ve ever stayed in. We met people from Australia, Turkey, the United States, British Columbia, Lattakia, London, Scotland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, France and Amsterdam.

The other way to our hostel was a bit more exciting. Here Andrew will demonstrate. Starting at the busy road (pic 1),

climb over the fence

ring for the ladder if it’s not already down & then climb up here.


Our room was in the tower. That is the window I’d look out of to see the sights on the busy street below. One of my favorite memories was seeing cleaners washing the street with a big water truck around 12:30 or 1 AM. I wish I’d been able to photograph that, but I figured I’d only get a glare from the window.

Later I’ll share pictures from within these hostel walls, but now you know how to get into the place.

Pictures from Damascus, Syria
January/February 2009

Stay tuned….Samer is working on a great post, I hope. In the meantime something else from my personal blog about our time in Syria.

Today I will tell you about one restaurant we went to. Sorry, but I don’t know the name. I think this was my least favorite place, and it’s not that this place was bad. Rather the others were just so delish! We’d just had a wonderful time at the mountain overlook where we’d seen Damascus at night. There were 7 of us in 2 cars so we stopped by a cute restaurant for dinner. Andrew was in his gusto mood to try anything the guys recommended, whereas I was Ms. Picky and not so apt to try new stuff. I have nut allergies so I have an excuse. And after looking at this menu, I was glad I was picky. I just don’t see this stuff advertised in most restaurants I frequent in the States. OK…none of them. Can’t say I’ve seen brains, kidneys, livers, testicles or tongues at O’Charley’s, Ruby Tuesday or Cracker Barrel. Maybe they are there and I just missed ’em! (Gotta hate that!) Seriously, brains with egg?

Soooooo, I looked at this menu and probably had one of those deer-in-the-headlights faces … something like 8-/, but thankfully, I found out “shish tawook” was similar to grilled chicken …. ahhhh, something safe. *whew*

The offending menu. I mean LOOK at it!

Ol’ Andrew was gung ho to try the local cuisine, but found fatteh wasn’t his thing. Can you guess which bowl was his? Thankfully the fries were good and I gave him some of my chicken because, well, I’m just sweet like that, ya know?


Oh, here we are! See how happy I am with my chicken? I was just overwhelmingly glad I wasn’t eating brain salad. I’m lovin’ Andrew’s face at the prospect of having to finish off that bowl of Shami goodness! (evil laugh)

(Aren’t y’all wondering about this stupid hat I wore nearly every day? C’mon, admit it! I look like a character from The Cat in the Hat, right? Ha!)

I’d already eaten all the chicken before I remembered to take a picture. (Thankfully, Samer took the one above and sent it to me in time for this post.) Mushrooms aren’t my thing … so I gave them to Sami since he loves them.

And here are our dinner and looking-at-Damascus-at-night companions.
Mohammed and Ahmad (aka Jake)


Basheer, Samer and Sami

Notice the pictures in the background … we saw those e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e!

Pictures from February 3, 2009
Damascus, Syria

I am going to start sharing some pictures from our trip to Syria. On the first Sunday we were there, we went to an internet cafe’ in the Shiite neighborhood and when we left it around 1:30, these scenes from the street caught our eyes.

Children, children, everywhere … even in the streets!

Children talking with their friends after school probably wondering who that crazy foreigner is taking their photo

Kids, bikes, cars, trucks, even the occasional horse … all sharing the road

These little guys were nice enough to stop and pose for the camera

Andrew got caught by the guy we dubbed “the aggressive nut seller,” and he bought . . .

a kilo of pistachios and cashews for about $17!


Photos from February 1, 2009
Damascus, Syria

A week ago today, we were at Krac des Chevaliers.  *sigh*  Our trip to Syria was great!  The people were so hospitable!  See more of those we met here. I really miss them a lot.  We left Damascus early Wednesday after 12 wonderful days.

Here we are with Samer. He is truly a fantastic young man!  I am very blessed to be his friend.  It was an honor to meet his family, friends and see his city and the surrounding areas.

More later.


A year ago the January excitement was snow, but not this year!



My house in January 2008 when we actually got snow!

Southern snow is so boring compared to, ohhhhhh, deciding your first overseas trip is flying over 6,000 miles to visit friends in the Middle East! Agreed?! Samer invited me and my husband to visit Damascus many months ago. We discussed it then, decided we might like to go during the winter so we went ahead and got our passports just in case. That was in May 2008 so this trip seemed so far away, but now it’s here and I can hardly believe it! Did I ever mention that I’d never traveled west of Tennessee? And that the only plane trips I’d been on were 1.5 hours each way. So this will be quite a change!

If all goes as planned, we will fly to Chicago in the morning and then it’s on to Istanbul for a 12 hour layover. Lord willing, we will arrive in Damascus at 1:25 on Friday morning. That’s different from what it was originally, but oh well. The earlier flight from Istanbul to Damascus was canceled.

We are looking forward to seeing Damascus and surrounding areas, but most importantly, I am eager to meet my Arab friends. I really meant it when I said they were God’s gifts to me! I look forward to meeting Samer, Sami, Jake, Amer, Basheer, Hassan, Mohammed and maybe even Souvenirs & Scars (see blogroll on left). Sadly, my cheeky friend Louai is in London (he’s a famous architect!) so I won’t get to see him, but he has been helpful in giving suggestions about places to visit.

I guess the moral of this story is….don’t invite me to come visit you unless you really mean it. I just might take you up on the offer! Insh’allah. 😉