Just returned from Damascus


Dec 25th, 2000, 07:46 PM
Norma Lammont
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Just returned from Damascus

I have recently returned from Damascus (Nov 2000) travelling independently from the UK (willing to answer questions). I stayed in a moderately priced hotel (El Majid) which I can heartily reccomend ($30 per night for a double) and travelled on a Turkish airlines flight from Manchester (UK) via Istanbul which cost me the princely sume of 270 ($500) so the whole trip (excluding food) cost me about 550 for hotel & airfare.
I paid an average of 3 ($5) for a big meal excluding alcohol. I paid $80 each trip per day for a trip to Palmyra and Crac (limousine with English speaking driver) booked through the tourist office in Damascus (right opposite hotel) The souk was fabulous and I bought hand-woven damascus silk for $50 (30) a metre and trimmings at a tenth the price in UK, also fabulous household linens at ridiculous prices (but where the locals go - not in the tourist shops). A fabulous country with people who are helpful and friendly - but you must dress modestly and respect their customs - especially in rural areas. I did not take a great deal of money but I brought some great souvenirs and am already planning my next trip!
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Jan 31st, 2001, 12:58 PM
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My husband and I are travelling to Syria in about a month, and I enjoyed reading your post. We are planning on one day in Damascus and some overnights in Palymra and Aleppo. We also plan on visiting Crac des Chevaliers. Do you have any other tips/ advice? Did you take traveller's checks, use ATMs, or a combination? Thanks in advance.
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Feb 1st, 2001, 12:22 AM
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dear louise,

we could help you in finding best hotels &tours within syria ,please have alook at our web site for syria &the region www.jordan-holidays.com
good luck to you
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Feb 1st, 2001, 07:35 AM
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Damascus is worth more than one day ( was there last April for about three days). There's quite a bit to see. Lots of churches, great day trip to Malula (spelling), the musuem, souk, just wandering around.

Are you going to Aleppo? Very interesting city. The Christian quarter is a maze of winding streets and balconies. The citadel and St. Simon (especially) are fascinating and the souk is much better than Damascus.

In my travels in Syria we were ALWAYS kindly asked to pay in US $$. The only spot that took a credit card was the Semiramis hotel in Damascus. As I recall, I don't think ATMs have made it to Syria. You are in a very friendly, helpful, but controlled environment.
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Feb 23rd, 2001, 09:37 PM
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Just a word of advice in Syria-- be sure to take enough cash (or travelers checks) with you. One member of our small tour group ran short on cash, and even with the aid of our tour guide, had problems trying to run the ruse of "purchasing" something in a local shop in order to use a credit card in exchange for cash. it's a widely used ruse, but our guide commented that perhaps the locals thought he was a member of the "Brotherhood" as this is officially an illegal transaction.

Be sure to see the Omayed mosque, take in a dervish show, and shop the crowded souks. We found that in the souks, the pressure was on and the goods were not up to par, but in the crafts market there is little pressure and the quality is much higher. Go early to see the craftspeople perform their trade and get the best deals of the day.

A must-see is Maaloua- what a pleasant and memorable surprise it was when someone suggested that we stop in this cliff-side village outside of Damascus. It's one of the only places on earth where the language of Jesus, Aramaic is still spoken. We lucked out when a village Abbot said the Lord's Prayer to us (and some nuns of Mother Theresa's sect) in this language.
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