Baramkah (Station) - Damascus
Favorite thing: Here u will find busses and shared taxis to Beirut and Amman. If ure coming from there it will stop at this station.
From here u can also go to other cities in syria lattakia, aleepo and etc.
I went to beirut from here and it cost me 200SYP by bus abt 2-3 hrs. Also went to Amman from here cost me abt 500SYP by shared taxi.
Fondest memory: The Juice shop...banana mixed with Strawberry, milk & ice cream, other fruit juices also available.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Traveling to Damascus?
Favorite thing: I have been here for over a month, and i have observed some things from this city.
Well, for one thing i haven't seen the hospitality and wonderful friendly people that guide books and all the reviewers seem to boast about.
I have observed that they are theiving, arrogant,sexist racist bunch donkeys.
I would never travel to syria again---and not even to any other arab country.
I wouldn't reccomend this country to anyone.
Of course it is possible that your trip might be better than mine was, who knows.
Fondest memory: None!
Good Arabic Teacher in Damascus
Favorite thing: Hello Everyone!
I have read your postings and just wanted to give you a tip for a really good Arabic teacher!
Her name is Reham Mohamad and she has given me private lessons for the last months. She's really good and professional in how she teaches and she only charges 500 SYP per lesson of 45 min (I normally take 2 lessons per time). She can teach you both Standard Arabic and the Syrian Dialect.
You can contact her on the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on +963 988 621 353
Best regardsRelated to:
- Study Abroad
THIS IS YOUR SHOP
This is actually kind of a sad memory. I visited Syria a couple of months after September 11th, 2001. Needless to say I was about the only tourist to be seen anywhere. Every time I walked into a souvenir shop, I was greeted with eyes fixed to the floor and the owners kept saying “This is your shop”. They meant that I was very welcome. The first time I offered half of the first price I was asked – it was greeted with a slow, sad, nod. After the 3rd shop of getting the same greeting, no haggling and fantastic prices – I asked why.
The owner then explained that the atrocity had meant that tourist had all stop coming. He said ‘Now the Germans don’t come, the French don’t come, the English don’t come’. Essentially any money taken was better than no money at all.
I always offered a fair price and I bought a lot of souvenirs. It was a sad experience, but I always had a warm handshake when I left.
Favorite thing: Wasta is a word often heard in Syria. It is Arabic and translates as something like authority, influence, political (or other) power, connections, or a combination of those terms. In practical terms it means that some rules can become more flexible if you have wasta, or know someone who has wasta. Also, a bit of wasta can smooth or speed up business transactions, bureaucratic issues, and other official procedures. At its best (or worst, depending on your point of view), a good dose of wasta could keep you out of jail or save you from other unpleasant consequences of dubious activities.
The common English expression "it's not what you know but who you know ... " is a rough equivalent of wasta.
On the wasta scale (not that there is an official one), things that can make a difference in the Syria are your nationality, your profession, who you work for, who you know, your political position in the country, your connections to people in positions of authority. Money and how long you have lived in the Syria don't usually directly affect your wasta level but indirectly they do since longer term residents may have built up a larger network of high-wasta friends, and rich people often associate with other rich people who may be high-wasta individuals.
Many expat residents learn about wasta through a driving experience. In simple terms, the more wasta someone has, the less likely they are to cop a fine and/or be blamed if there's an accident. Wasta can result in some unusual situations for example, green lights were actually red when you went through them because the person who crashed into you had enough wasta to change the color retroactively. Indications of higher levels of wasta on the road are dark tinted or mirror tinted windows (30% maximum is the law so anything more than that means it's likely they have enough wasta to get around this rule), number plates with fewer than 5 digits (but anyone can buy them now if they have enough cash so it's not as good an indication as in the past).
Wasta is something that many expats, especially westerners, find difficult to come to terms with but you'll find it easier to enjoy Dubai if you get used to that rather than try to fight it. And of course it helps if you can elevate your own wasta level somehow.
Wasta and Bribes
Don't confuse wasta with bribery. If you try to bribe a government official, for example a police officer who has just pulled you up for driving though somebody's garden, you should expect to be punished fairly harshly for trying to bribe them. And if the owner of the garden that you drove through has some wasta, then you'll probably be even worse off. In the business world, things may operate a little differently. Just as anywhere else in the world, the negotiation of business transactions and contracts is not always done on a level playing field, and bribes ... er gifts ... might be part of your discussions with interested parties.
Wasta also means to pull some strings. is widespread in Syria and bribery as well under Syrian baath party.
Cashing Travelers Checks
Favorite thing: The best place I found to cash my travelers checks was the CBS Bank No. 5. If you are at the Hejaz train station and facing forward, walk down to the bank which is on the right hand side. This is the only place I found that would cash them. Most banks won't do it and you will need your receipt and passport to cash them.
Favorite thing: Across the street from the entrance to Souq al-Hamidiyya there is an exchange office I used. The employee gave me an old Iraqi Dinar bill with Saddam Hussein's portrait on it. Today it is useless of course and a mere souvenir.
Wine in Syria
Favorite thing: Syria is one of the largest importers of Lebanese wine. So if you are not going to be visiting Lebanon, you will have some chances to try it here. I never did find any Syrian produced wine though. I am not sure if any even exists.
titti's General Tip
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