I was at a joyful event, full of people I know well, full of people with whom I am acquainted, and full of people who know the people I know, but don’t know me. It was a great party. Even AdventureMan had some great conversations, and enjoyed himself.
You know those little hairs at the back of your neck, the ones who rise up and tell you to pay attention? I found those little antenna standing up, and wondered “do I know you?” looking at total strangers. I had a strong feeling there were bloggers in the room.
We arrive in Damascus, and are eager to walk. Something has happened, though, and on our first walk I discover my knee is killing me. We find a pharmacy, I down some aspirin with a freshly squeezed orange juice and we carry on. I tell myself that the latest in therapy is “motion is lotion” because I don’t want to waste a minute while we are in Damascus, and with the help of the aspirin, and the distraction of the sheer beauty and treasures of Damascus, we continue walking.
In our days there, we developed a routine. Get up, eat breakfast, head out. Walk and walk and walk. Stop after a couple hours for coffee (no matter where you are, there is a coffee or tea place nearby.) Walk some more. Stop for lunch. Walk some more, head back to the hotel and get a little rest. Go out walking, find a place for dinner. Two of our days there, we met up with an old friend, and spent time in the afternoon and evening visiting with him.
Knowing how my blogging friend Kinan told us to watch for treasures, i.e. remnants of olden times incorporated into more modern structures, we were continually delighted. AdventureMan has a particularly keen eye and can spot an old hewn granite stone in the foundation, remnants of arches, remnants of old pillars – it was a treasure hunt every day.
There are still some of the old mashrabiya balconies remaining, and near our hotel we also found a woodworker who specializes in mashrabiya:
There are many restaurants which have been created in the old open courtyards of the old Damascus houses. This is one where we had coffee, Dar al Bandar, at the beginning (or end!) of Sharia (street) Qamariya, which will soon also open with hotel rooms. These courtyards are entirely covered over in the winter time. I think some of them can be opened, and maybe they open them in the summers, but the summers are as hot as the winters are cold, so maybe they only open them in the springs and autumns.
The Beit al Chami is the closest restaurant to the Talisman, and also built in a courtyard. There is another level of dining high above the courtyards, and we saw both couples and families heading up for the quieter, more private dining rooms above. This is the entrance to the Beit al Chami:
This is the ceiling of the Beit Chami reception hall near the entry:
We saw people eating something we had never seen before. It looked like a mezze, but not like any mezze we knew. AdventureMan asked the waiter, and they brought us one at the end of the meal and would not let us pay for it. We ran across this kind of generousity and graciousness daily during our time in Syria. This was indeed a mezze of sorts, but a jam mezze, or dessert mezze, and you eat all these sweet things with bread. The one in the middle is a kind of thickened cream, the others were fruits and preserves and jams. Fascinating and delicious!
This is a man in a little street Tabak who would only speak French to us, never Arabic. He acted like he didn’t understand Arabic. AdventureMan thinks when we finally settle back in the US, he will open a little corner Tabak like this and spend his days sitting and selling small things. (I think he is kidding.) This man would call out “bonjour!” whenever he would see us.
Just a few more random shots:
And, my friends, this is just the beginning!
In the e-mail this morning I found the perfect candidate for the Morning Grin: