|Wednesday 23rd May - Syria - Damascus
We had a couple of things on our to-do list for today:
1. See some of the sites in Damascus
2. Do something about repairing the rooftop storage bag.
Andrew spoke to the hotel reception staff to get their advice about where we should get the storage bag repaired. He then went off to a souk with the bag under his arm in search of a tentmaker.
Meanwhile the girls and I played with their toys in the hotel room. They havent had much time to play with their toys recently, so it wasnt a bad way to spend an hour and a half.
Andrew returned, happy that the bag would be repaired by 6pm and together we got a taxi to the Umayyad Mosque, one of the biggest sites in Damascus. In Syria it can be very difficult to explain to taxi drivers where you want to go. Generally they dont speak any English and, because the Arabic script is so different to ours, showing Umayyad Mosque written on paper doesnt help either. We tried sign language but it didnt work. The taxi driver eventually resorted to shouting out the window to pedestrians, asking if they could speak English. He would then stop the car and get the person to translate for us. This scenario was played out a few times during our stay in Syria.
It was interesting to visit the mosque. It is a large building with several big halls around an open courtyard. Before entering, I had to don a long cloak with a hood. Inside the mosque there were lots of people, but also lots of space. We wandered around for a while and then walked through some more souks towards Straight Street again. Other interesting Biblical sites in Damascus are Ananiass house and the house from which Paul was lowered down in a basket there are chapels built on both of these sites. We had thought of visiting these chapels but Naomi fell asleep as we were getting lunch, so I took the girls back to the hotel while Andrew went back to the souk to check on the progress of the storage bag.
The bag was ready, and was repaired (in fact, almost completely rebuilt) very well. Syrias not a bad place to be if you need to employ the services of a tentmaker there are lots of Bedouin people here, so tentmakers know what theyre doing.
The main tourist office is just across the road from our hotel, so I popped in to ask them about a few things. There were about 10 people working in the office most of them sitting at computers and a couple of them at a customer-service counter. When I came in, they all stopped talking to each other and turned round to look at me. Their facial expressions were of total surprise Look! A tourist!. It was funny to see. They were very pleasant, but pretty useless at giving information.