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I decided to go to Syria just 2 months after September 11, 2001. I had the place to myself. The whole Middle East really. No tourists. Anyway, I had a nice basic hotel near the train station. To get a meal with alcohol meant a long, long trek across the massive bazaar to get to the Christian Quarter. And back again each night after a few too many beers and/or a bottle of wine. One night I decided that rather walked Eat towards the Christian Quarter, I would walk up a dark side lane going north and then cut east to see what I could see.
I could see very little. This lane was just around the corner form my hotel and everything was closed and there were no real lights. Up ahead on my right though I saw someone walk away with a plastic bag from a window.
As I got closer I realised that this was actually the world’s narrowest shop and that the door was actually split in to two horizontally. The lower section of the door was shut and the top half filled with light.
I approached thinking a nice cold cola and a very warm night would hit the spot. Inside though it didn’t look like a shop. I just saw boxes everywhere. Stacked up, on shelves, everywhere.
The little man addressed me in Arabic. That did him no good at all. I was about to ask for a cola when I realised that the boxes looked like crates of beer. I didn’t see any names in English, but the looked like beer cartons to me.
I asked for a beer. Again Arabic, but a soft and questioning tone. Hmmm. I was on the right track maybe? Strange, no place around here sold alcohol. In fact it said in the guidebook only on the Christian Quarter – nowhere else.
I tried a few names, but friendly and amused looks. Finally he went into the back of this narrow shop of boxes and came back with a nice looking, huge, ice cold, bottle of beer. Syrian beer! I asked how much and about 30 US cents was asked for. A very thick black plastic bag was produced and I retreated to my nearby hotel room expecting to see ‘No Alcohol’ printed on the side. Nope, it had the content printed on it and it tasted great!
Back down the stairs and around the corner I went! A few more and again a bag was produced.
I can’t remember the name, but Syrians brew great beer.
The interesting thing was I could never find any other place in Damascus that sole alcohol except restaurants in the approved area. Also this nice guy was always closed during the day. I always wondered if he was only allowed to do this as he did it after dark so the faithful living nearby weren’t offended.
Anyway, it was very good beer.
Written Feb 10, 2012
Favorite thing: MAGDOUS
Sweet red pepper paste
Sliced garlic (optional)
Mix together the sweet red pepper paste with the crushed walnuts and the garlic.
100 gr. bread crumbs
50 gr. sweet red pepper paste
10 gr. crushed dried hot red pepper
20 gr. cumin
40 gr. concentrated pomegranate syrup
100 ml. olive oil
100 gr. crushed walnut
150 ml. water
20 ml. lemon juice
15 gr. sugar
VEGETABLES OMELET (EJJEH)
1 bunch of parsley
1 teaspoon of flour
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of dried mint
1 teaspoon of dried sweet red pepper
1 pinch of cinnamon
200 ml. olive oil
1 kg. eggplant
1 bunch of parsley
500 gr. eggplant
1 green pepper
1/2 bunch of chopped parsley
4 branches of green mint
150 gr. sesame oil
1/2 glass of lemon juice
25 gr. concentrated pomegranate syrup
30 ml. olive oil
1 clove of garlic if desired
some grains of pomegranate
1 kg. eggplant (about 5 big pieces)
Concentrated pomegranate syrup
250 gr. green olives
60 gr. concentrated pomegranate syrup
40 ml. olive oil
2 green onions
1 peeled tomato
1/2 bunch of parsley
Grains of one pomegranate for decoration
Branch of thyme for decoration
500 gr. tomato
500 gr. cucumber
100 gr. onion
75 gr. green mint
75 gr. purslane
1 bunch of parsley
2 cloves of garlic
50 gr. of black olives
1 lemon juice
3 teaspoons of vinegar
1 teaspoon of sumac
125 ml. olive oil
Bread cut into triangles as desired
Written Nov 11, 2011
Favorite thing: Prices of goods in Syria:
bottle of beer :40 to 80 SYP around 1 UK pound
Packet of cigaret : 35 to 100 SYP
big Mac : 100 to 200 SYP
Read more: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/217724/#ixzz1d29lM6K2
Written Nov 7, 2011
Favorite thing: I met Mohammed Jammal Hannan by chance, as I was visiting Al Bara. Mohammed lived for several years in Germany and speaks flawless German (and English as well), and he is a very friendly, experienced, reliable and knowledgeable Syrian guide in the Aleppo area. Even if you already know your itinerary, it is well worth hiring him as a guide, as he knows many spots are rarely covered in the guidebooks. If you go on a longer Syria trip, he is also able to offer customized tours through the whole country.
Tel.: 00963 21 2221632
Mob.: 00963 988 821904
Updated May 29, 2010
Favorite thing: For some reason, ATM`s are very rare in Syria (even in Damascus and Aleppo), and I heard that the few that exist are not always reliable. Money Exchange is possible in most hotels, but Bureaus are rare as well. In other words: bring plenty of cash !
Written May 24, 2010
Favorite thing: In Syria they censor some websites that are thought to be used by groups who oppose the rulers of the country and it can be very hard to get on to some webpages, especially youtube and facebook.
They are possible to acces from some cyber cafes, but they are mostly blocked.
Written Apr 19, 2009
Favorite thing: Please remember that Syria is Islamic Republic. Therefore, if you want to drink , eg. really great Syrian wheat beer, please book a few hours - apart from Damascus and touristic must see places it is not easy to get it!
Written Aug 30, 2008
Favorite thing: Hey there,
I came home from Damascus few days ago. I spent 2 months in Damascus and was traveling all over Syria. I was with my male friend (i am a girl)and we never had any problems in hostels, hotels or in any place we visited! We were always together in 1 room. Dont worry, you are a foreigners and their laws doesn't concern you. You will have a great time Syria, you'll see! They are very very nice people.
Written Jul 5, 2008
Favorite thing: 1)- in damascus if you go to Tikya alsulimania near by there are many book sellers on the way .. you need to check if they have old books. you may also go to Almeskiya near Omyad mosque.
2)- poeple in Ma'alula speaks Aramean and arabic and may be you can meet english speakers there too .. yes you can buy some written stuff in Aramean.
3)- the beach at Cham hotel in Lattakia is very clean.
4)- there is a new developed hot spring about one hour drive from Damascus to the way to Dar'a . i cannot recal the name now.
5)- you can buy leather at Souk Alkhija in Damascus or at the old city road in Aleppo .. many shops on the way inside the old city.
i hope the above are helpful to you .. have a nice trip
Fondest memory: I miss the old city of Damascus and kassion mountain
Written Apr 5, 2008
Favorite thing: People visiting Syria should see the historical attractions in the old city area of Damascus.......people should explore the old narrow streets of Old Damascus......visit the restaurants that used to be old arabic houses, now converted to restaurants..... visit the bazaars........just experience the culture of this country.......
Fondest memory: My fondest memory is the ability to experience a totally different culture in a very comforting environment......I enjoyed many things. Most importantly of course are the historical attractions in Damascus ( I didnt have chance to visit the various other historical areas in syria.....I will save that for next visit). I enjoyed just walking around, taking everything in........I miss the little park area near my hotel.....one evening , I went there to sit on the bench there at night......it was quiet and there was cool breeze.......it was my last night before I left. It was a pleasant country to travel around by myself.
Updated Mar 19, 2008
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