Our service taxi dropped us off at the international bus terminal, well east of the Damascus city centre, so we had to take a taxi into the city. The driver was a pleasant fellow, and with our meagre skills in one-another’s languages we managed to have a bit of a chat about our time in Syria, and Lebanon and what we thought of each.
Our drive into town showed us at least a little of what we could expect from Damascus (in the new city at least.) It was surprisingly clean and modern looking, and was at least on par with Beirut and Istanbul in both of these respects. At the same time, it managed to look a bit sterile (in a metaphorical sense. Despite its RELATIVE cleanliness, it was far from spotless.) All of these impressions of Damascus would be turned on their ears by the time we spent in the Old City.
Our taxi dropped us off at Al Merjed, near the centre of Damascus’ new city, from where it was a simple matter to find our way to the lovely hotel (a former Ottoman mansion with a beautiful and shady courtyard) that would be our home for the next few days.
Me and the statue comemorating Salah ad Din Himself and his many victories