Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Walking Old Damascus

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.

00doldarch-in-house.jpg

00dpillarinwall.jpg

There are still some of the old mashrabiya balconies remaining, and near our hotel we also found a woodworker who specializes in mashrabiya:

00dmeshrabiyyabalcony.jpg

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.

00dbeitalbandar.jpg

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:

00beitchamiexterior.jpg

This is the ceiling of the Beit Chami reception hall near the entry:

00dbeitchamireceptionhallceiling.jpg

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!

00djamdessert.jpg

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.

00dbonjour.jpg

Just a few more random shots:

00daccidentblamethevictim.jpg

00dgreen-car.jpg

00drestoration-everywhere.jpg

00dwalkingstreet.jpg

00narrowstreetsnarrowtrucks.jpg

00olddamascusstreet.jpg

And, my friends, this is just the beginning!

January 8, 2008 - Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Blogging, Building, Community, ExPat Life, Living Conditions | , , , ,

16 Comments »

  1. I THANK YOU VERY MUCH!! I am dying to visit Syria one day soon 🙂

    Comment by chikapappi | January 8, 2008 | Reply

  2. Chikapappi – it is one of the most beautiful countries on earth, full of interesting and historical sights. It is also an archaeologist’s heaven, a historian’s heaven and an amazing place where so many branches of religion co-exist peacefully.

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 8, 2008 | Reply

  3. so you got to go to damascus at last!! im very very happy for you guys 🙂
    and thanks for posting such lovely pictures,, made me feel like i was with you guys on the trip 🙂

    Comment by Abdulaziz | January 8, 2008 | Reply

  4. I haven’t been to Syria before. I heard its current modernization beat those in Lebanon and Jordan. The pictures you took are very well shot and really had captured the essence of the Damascus. The food looks yummy too 😀

    Comment by Angelo | January 9, 2008 | Reply

  5. This is just lovely 🙂

    I am glad you had enjoyed your time there.

    Comment by kinano | January 9, 2008 | Reply

  6. Abdulaziz! Thank you, and yes, we can’t help but be happy in lovely Damascus. It’s one of those great-values-for-the-money trips – tickets on Jazeera, great food at reasonable prices, and the best entertainment of all – walking – is FREE!

    Angelo – Now is the time! More photos coming; Damascus just presents the oportunities, one after another.

    Thank you, Kinan, and we thought of you so often. And ate at the Vino Rosso!

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 9, 2008 | Reply

  7. I love the pictures!

    Comment by hayat | January 9, 2008 | Reply

  8. tahnsk a lot for the info and the photos! I wish i can visit sometime soon. take care!

    Comment by nov62 | January 9, 2008 | Reply

  9. Thank you, Hayat!

    You are welcome, Nov62; I’m glad you came by.

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 9, 2008 | Reply

  10. Very atmospheric – I’ve been to some of these places, but now I feel I should go and explore more.

    Comment by bint battuta | January 9, 2008 | Reply

  11. I am so happy for your visit, Bint Battuta, and I spent some very pleasant time on your blog, too.

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 10, 2008 | Reply

  12. I have been to Damascus and your photos capture the old parts of the city very well. I left so suddenly for my visit that I forgot to bring my camera and have no way to remember my visit other than memories so your photos bring them all flooding back!

    Comment by Aliyah | January 11, 2008 | Reply

  13. I hope they are happy memories, Aliyah.

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 11, 2008 | Reply

  14. Thank you intlxpatr, they are happy. My only regret being (besides not bringing my camera) that I was not able to see more of Syria and revisit the places I liked best. Maybe next time…

    Comment by Aliyah | January 12, 2008 | Reply

  15. Me too, Aliyah. We are hoping next time to visit Tartush and St. Simeon, Ugarit, and Hama and Aleppo, and perhaps some of the more remote archeological sites. Syria has such variety and beauty!

    Comment by intlxpatr | January 12, 2008 | Reply

  16. hi ,this is one of the most places that i’ve ever seen it makes me feel that i should visit those places cause each one of them tells u old story happened in the past

    Comment by mido | July 10, 2009 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: