|The end of our second day in Syria (we crossed the border on Sep 11, an auspicious date), in Aleppo in the north. This is a city of 4 million and as crazy and chaotic as you can imagine, what with 16,000 maniacal cabdrivers out for blood, streets that go in no particular pattern and are pretty dirty to boot. But the people are s damned fiendly! People just love to talk with us, especially when we mention where we are from--China (just kidding). Kids all say Hallo! and gather round us foreigners.
We have been walking around the city trying not to get lost, and have spent some time in the souk(bazaar or market) which is as old and authentic as any we have ever seen (meaning no items for tourists), have visited the San Simeon Monastery, a ruin from the 12th Century Byzantines, the Aleppo Citadel, also a ruin from the same time but built on the only hill in the center of town, the Baron Hotel (a grand old place)where the Charles Lindberg and Agatha Christie have stayed as well as Lawrence of Arabia (we saw his room) who left without paying his bill--it's on display. As crazy as Aleppo is, entering the Christian Quarter brings you into a beautiful, well-cared-for, section of the city very far removed the madness. There are magnificent hotels converted from old mansions with lovely rooftop restaurants--we're going to one for dinner tonight. An old Caravanserai (the original motel, but for those traveling on camel) has a large courtyard lined with shops and in the center food stalls. We passed a church and upon looking in saw an Armenian wedding taking place!
We have eaten grilled chicken, a spicy mix of vegetables and lamb over rice, a great falafel for 30 cents, cold, salty yogurt, that we had in Turkey and a great selection of candies with nougat, pistachios, dried apricots, marzipan and other unidentifiable things.