After been briefly woke at 4.00 am by our local muezzins call to prayer ..... he has the best voice we have heard and even at this hour it is very enchanting , we arose for breakfast around 9.00 am . At 10.00 am we recieved a call from Hazzim to invite us over on our first morning for coffee to discuss our schedule and plans and how they could assist us with whatever it was we needed to realise them. They then spent the next couple of hours walking the neighbourhood showing us all the various places we would need over the next few days. The butcher, baker, launderette and a small mini market all on our doorstep and a swish new mall with a modern supermarket about 15 minutes walk away. I cannot dscribe the hospitality we have been afforded . It would put the Irish sense of hospitality to shame !
We spent the rest of the day walking around Damascus trying to get a grip on its geography, particularly the area around the citadel as this is where most of the sights and athmosphere are to be found. On entry into the Souq Al Hamidiyya were greated by an ice cream parlor selling home made ice cream .......that kept the kids quite while we had a browse . The ice cream here is made of semolina and the topping of hundreds and thousands that are familar in the western world are replaced by crushed pistachios ....these are truly delicious . Further along past the gold , spices and lingerie shops
There plonked at the end of the souq and just in front of the stunning Umayyad Mosque lie the western temple gates ruins of the 3rd century Roman Temple of Jupiter. Tomorow we will begin to explore Damascus properly.
Tonight the ever present and helpful Mahmoud was on hand once again to offer his assistance. I needed a new plug adaptor, to change money and buy some provisions. Once again we set off on foot and found all of these things within a couple of minutes of where we are staying, all after 9 o’clock. For a city of over four million Damascus has a very personable feel to it, everybody seem’s to know everybody. Having got everything I needed we continued to stroll through the local souq where Mahmoud proceeded to show me two of the local hammams, one which was 500 years old. We were offered the ubiquitious tea and sat down for a chat with the manager. This was the sister hammam of another even older one, some 800 years old, the manager of which has invited us to attend. I fully intend to take him up on his offer.