Tuesday, August 24, 2010


There are two main Eid festivals in the muslim calendar, the first follows Ramadan and is called Eid al Fitr and the second is Eid al Adha which is celebrated approximately 70 days after the end of Ramadan.

For Eid al Fitr we have decided to travel to Syria. We will stay for two nights in Damascus. Many people have told us it is a very interesting place to visit and it is also very cheap when you get there. We will stay in the old city in a traditional looking hotel. Most of the old city attractions are within walking distance - which is good because no cars can drive in the old city!

Traveling to Damascus requires a visit visa, unless you are from one of the listed Arab countries. The service at the Syrian Embassy was very efficient. I took all the necessary paperwork one day and the visa were ready for collection at 10am the next. Shows how it can be done!

So watch this space later for some , hopefully, nice photos from Damascus.


  1. Damascus is a must-do while you are here but don't get your expectations too high - frankly I was disappointed. Of course being detained without explanation for a couple of hours by the secret police (or some military/paramilitary outfit) didn't help. Our crime mainly seemed to be that my Khaliji friend (ay, there's the rub) was trying to read the rubbish photocopied map grudgingly provided by the Meridien (not recommended) at around 10:30pm on the street. A grubby little informant cigarette seller who was the dead spit of Danny de Vito's dwarf mutant retarded brother then grabbed him and next thing we were being hauled off the back of some jalopy. It was more annoying than genuinely scary but never forget you are in a police state. And don't believe what anybody tells you - it's not friendly. Everybody thinks they are being watched by the Stasi or else they are watching everybody else for the Stasi or probably both.

    Old city is small, some of it has been ruined and the rest of Damascus is like Bucharest circa 1987. But parts of the old city are genuinely atmospheric. Don't miss the Ottoman mosque and madrassa near the National museum and the old Railway station from the Hijaz line (be sure to look inside for a sad surprise). Maloula, the old Aramaic-speaking Christian settlement in the mountains near the city is worth visiting (we got a car to take us there and to another less impressive Christian monastery whose name I can't remember for $40 for a half day). We didn't get to Palmyra but by all accounts it is amazing. I liked Jordan (a huge open-air museum) and Lebanon (Baalbeck, Anjar, Byblos) much more. Oh, and if you're in any way darker skinned (in which case that's a cunning disguise in your photos) don't go - unbelievably racist.

  2. Thanks for your tips! Some of those places are definitely on our to do list. Hope we get to them all.