|Saturday 19th May - Syria - Hama
This morning we visited Aleppos famous souks a huge maze of indoor markets selling anything and everything. The souks were great. They have stone, vaulted ceilings and long corridors, with occasional open courtyards off to the side. Donkeys, bikes, mopeds, wheelbarrows and even the occasional, narrow car or van move around in the souks. Mostly though, its all people milling around buying and selling. We saw a few other tourists but not very many.
After the souks we had lunch at a restaurant beneath the citadel a big castle on a hilltop and then headed back to the car to move on to the next stop.
We drove on to Hama on excellent, straight motorway. Hama is known for its norias ancient, huge water wheels. After booking into a hotel (Hotel Riad very good), we went to look at the norias. They creaked and groaned as they turned quite impressive. Hama, like Aleppo, seems a bit dog-eared and dirty as if it has seen better days.
A few observations about Syria so far
We saw the whole range of woman-covering, from Syrian women dressed in very Western clothes with short-sleeves and cropped trousers, through to others completely covered so that even their eyes are behind a veil and their hands are in black gloves. Today I wore long sleeves and full length trousers, expecting that anything else would be unacceptable, so I was surprised to see that I was more modestly dressed than some of the Syrian women I met. Another observation is that if a girl is beautiful, she will find a way of telling you that, even from behind a covering. We saw some women who seemed to have decided If its only my eyes that can be shown Ill make sure I make a perfect job of them.
We saw quite a few ginger Syrians! Also a fair number of people with light brown hair and fair skin. This was a big surprise to us I thought the Celts had a monopoly on ginger.
I dont think Syrians like Brits very much. We say we are Scottish when asked what our nationality is, just to distance ourselves from Tony Blair a bit. We had one political discussion with a taxi driver today a bit difficult since he spoke virtually no English. His views were Thatcher beautiful, Churchill beautiful. Tony Blair peugh! Tony Blair, donkey for Bush. Tony Blair, 3 months (followed by a gesture of something being thrown away.) Chirac peugh! Sarkozy maybe. Eisenhower - beautiful. He seemed fairly animated so we didnt agree or disagree just said Mmmm, mmmm, sympathetically.