THE LITTLE DOOR ON THE DARK STREET
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.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Beer Tasting
Some Syrian Mezze (starters ) or for breakfast
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
Price of some goods
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
a recommended multi-lingual guide
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
ATM`s are rare !!!
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 !
Some websites are hard to acces in Syria.
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.Related to:
- Study Abroad
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!
traveling as unmarried couple
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.
things to know
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 mountainRelated to:
- Family Travel
- Spa and Resort
- Historical Travel
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.
4 more images
Favorite thing: When youre in Syria, allow yourself a lot of time to see it. There is so much there to see and do, it is not just a one or two day thing. Old Damascus is great, I spent five days in Dmaascus itself, and that just wasnt enough. The Old City is a must. Dont be afraid to wander the streets off of the main roads, it is there that you will see some amazing sites. Palmyra (Tadmur) is amazing as well. Go ahead and take a camel ride, you will save your feet a lot of pain, I was in the Army Infantry and after everything else on my trip Palmyra may have been the breaker if not for the camel. The Citadel overlooking Palmyra is a great place to catch the sunset. Hama is wonderful. Tartus can be made a day trip from Krak, I invested too much in Tartus. Krak is awesome, more than words can describe. Hos'n Sulemein is also something else. Be sure to give yourself a day of two of peace, there are best done in the laid back town of Sa'idniyya (25km NW of Damascus) and Safita (15km E of Tartus). Enjoy Syria, it is great. For those concerned about security, dont be, I felt safer in Syria than I did here in the states. There are no secret police following you, and you wont be thrown in jail for being American. Just dont say anything stupid about Bashar Al-Assad, and you should be good.
Fondest memory: The people. The people in Syria were by far the nicest I have ever met.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Visa Extension (Iquama)
Favorite thing: Well, I just got back from a month and a half in Damascus and to give some advice to anyone that will be staying there longer than 15 days. It is a bit of a hassle and don't be afraid to cut in front of people and and seem "rude". I am actually the only foreigner I knew that actually got the extension; others I meet thought that you could pay a fine and do it at the airport when you leave the country.
Get three passport sized photos from any of the numerous photo shops in Damascus.
The first thing to to is go to the passport and immigration office (located near the University, almost next to the Barameke bus terminal).
Go to the third floor and make your way to the window that says "iquama" (unfortunately it only says it in Arabic) pay 25 s.l. for a application form.
After you fill it out go back down stairs and outside make a right and go to the shop called (Al Moaalim, its about the third building down from the office). There you will get two copies of, both, the inmoration page of your passport and your visa page (don't bring your own since the put them on both sides of the sheet off paper)
Then make your way to one of the guys at the desks in the back of the room and pay aprox. 200 s.l for the required stamps and other papers.
Go back to the original window on the third floor and give them this along with your passport, it will be ready the next day.
Favorite thing: Usama Khamiz is a tour guide for all Syria and is very helpful. He speaks excellent English and some French. You can contact him on 0096333224758 or 00963933673137. This is his brothers number but he will be able to get Usama for you. He also can guide you around Lebanon.Related to:
- Family Travel
getting a visa as an American
Favorite thing: I work outside the US now and where I live there is no Syrian embassy. According to the Ministry of Tourism website, you can get a visa on arrival (at the airport) if you can show your current residency and that there is no embassy. didn't want to take any chances to in my case, went through a tour company to arrange my visa. Think it actually saved money coz to get in on your own it'd cost US$100 and thru the tour company it was free but the tour company charged me $30.
at the airport I did not have to wait long for the visa.
and yes it is safe to go to Syria, and I went there as a single female
Money, money, money.
Favorite thing: The official currency is the Syrian Pound. Notes are widely available in 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 denominations. Coins are available in 5, 10, and 25 denominations.
Fondest memory: Trying to make change all the time...oh wait...a FOND memory. Nevermind.
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