Syria – Bosra and Daraa

Bosra was my very last destination in Syria. It is an ancient Roman city located in the southernmost region of Syria near the Jordan border. It was only about an hour and a half from Damascus. The ancient Citadel below:

Kids playing soccer:

When I left Bosra, it was evening and getting dark. The buses were not running to Damascus at that time. I tried hitchhiking, but without luck. Fortunately a young man came out of his house nearby and offered me a night at his family’s home. He spoke some English. Though people are friendly in Syria overall, there is even more hospitality down in the country. I slept on this couch:

And had dinner:

The next morning, he offered to give me a tour of nearby Daraa. We took a taxi ride there. If this city sounds familiar, it had made international headlines just a couple weeks prior for violent uprisings. You could even say the very start of the war in Syria was in Daraa.

At the time, the city was calm. I didn’t notice much in the way of damage. It looked like things were back to normal.

Inside a cafe in Daraa:

Train depot:

The young man took me to a community pool next. He showed me a photo of his cousin, who died in the Daraa fighting just recently:

In the afternoon, I thanked the young man and left for Damascus. I stayed in Damascus for a couple nights and then took a train ride to Aleppo the next afternoon. It was night when I arrived and fairly late. I then took a taxi to the Turkish border and another taxi from the border back to same hotel in Antakya that I stayed a couple months before. It was about 4:00 in the morning. Syria ended up being a memorable trip, but I had little idea how significant this trip would be in light of the events the country has seen since.

Coming up next: Lebanon

Syria – Mar Musa Monastery

Mar Musa was among the last place I went during my Syrian trip. This was back in June 2011. Mar Musa is an ancient Christian monastery located about an hour north of Damascus. It is one of the few surviving monasteries in the Middle East and dates from the 11th century. The monastery is perched on top of a cliff in a very remote area. Me and a group of three others went together from the hotel in Damascus to the monastery. They gave us free meals and accommodation for the night we were there. We attended service in the afternoon. It was an interesting experience.

Syrian Catholic Priest

This German man has stayed at the monastery on and off for months. He wants to become a priest.

Lunch. The lady at rear is from Ontario and to her left is from Oregon. they traveled together.

Dinner 

We slept here for the night.

Syria – Damascus

Damascus is the heart of Syria. It is a city of almost two million. I spent a considerable amount of time here. Like many big cities in developing countries, a good bit of it is noisy, crowded, and polluted. I’m not a big fan of large cities in the poorer parts of the world, but like many cities you can uncover quite a bit of gems. Damascus is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and there is a tremendous amount of history. These photos were back in May and June of 2011, before the war. Images below are clickable.

Historic Damascus

Ummayad Mosque

Markets:

At the Hotel. A Dutch, French, and two Brits. We didn’t know each other before and became friends.

Same hotel. I came back to Damascus in June after a four week stint in Lebanon. Below are a group of Chinese backpackers:

Just outside the hotel, a fairly liberal youth scene. Many are college students:

Pro-Assad Rally in June

Christian Quarters

Children’s Clothing Shop

Old Detroit iron

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