Monday, September 28, 2009

March 17th: Aleppo and back to Hama [updated with pics and more; first posted 03-04-09]

After getting ready in the morning, we checked out and I left my bags at reception so we could go out and see things in Aleppo.We went to the Citadel... but it was closed. :( It is closed Tuesdays.I was hungry so we sat at a nearby cafe so I could eat. Too much food, for too much money. You couldn't order a set. Everything is separate. I had a fried egg, yogurt (which they completely covered in olive oil), a cheese thing that was similar to a quesadilla only with a salty arabic cheese that was quite rubbery, and a tea. They brought olives on the side. It certainly wasn't worth 300 Syrian Pounds (only I was eating, as Alaa' wasn't hungry). Oh well. I was too hungry to wait. Then we walked through some of the old souqs. So nice. Like elsewhere, the souqs are in old caravanserais. Unfortunately not much was open, even at 10 AM. Because it was Tuesday??? In our wandering, we found the Medicine and Science Museum in Bimaristan (hospital/house of patients) Argun. It was a hospital and madhouse/asylum from the 14th until the 20th century, with a part for dangerous patients. Some of the rooms had displays showing the tools and such used. Some looked a bit scary!We tried to get into a nearby madrasa but it was closed... also because it was Tuesday. :(
We went to the Aleppo Museum. It TOO was closed. Tuesdays... why is everything there closed Tuesdays??? Why did Tuesday just happen to be the day that I spent in Aleppo??? ARGH!!We did manage to go to the Great Mosque of Aleppo. It is similar to the mosque in Damascus but of a smaller scale. Still very nice. Like at the one in Damascus, I had to wear a grey hooded robe (though this one really didn't fit very well and with my bag underneath it looked even stranger).[I love taking pics of the minarets of mosques. It's always so easy to get a beautiful shot.]My knee had started hurting several days before and was really getting bad. Not a good thing. I decided I should go back to Hama for a little rest (since the hotel there, the Riad, was so great and welcoming). We went back to the hotel and then went to the bus station to get tickets. We didn't have long to wait. I had to go to the bathroom and wouldn't be able to wait the whole bus trip so I left my bags with Alaa' and went on a search for it. I walked into the main part of the station where all of the offices are. I asked a guy where the bathroom was. He had no idea what I was saying. I asked for the WC. He still didn't understand. I asked for the toilets. He seemed to understand and said "Ah! Follow me!" He took me to one of the offices and tried to sell me bus tickets to some city I didn't know the name of. Argh!! All they want to do is sell bus tickets for the company they work for. That is how they make their money. I said no. Another guy in the office asked what I needed. I said I had to go to the bathroom. He said "Ah." and looked at the other guy, shook his head and said to follow him. This guy actually did understand. By the time I was finished it was time for the bus to go. Alaa' came to find me as the bus was in a different spot. Also, we had to go to the police office to get my ticket signed. Even though the ticket office took had my name and passport info, for some reason the police had to authorize it. They are very protective of the foreigners in Syria.
On the way home, Alaa' was amused by my paper folding. I have a habit of making things (paper cranes, paper boxes, paper stars, etc) with even little bits of paper (like gum wrappers and such). Once in Hama, I went to my hotel. I had a great welcome. The guy at the counter had a surprised look on his face and said to go take my bags off and relax for a bit. He called Abdullah who immediately came down and said I was just on time and had to follow him upstairs. He had made a large lunch for a couple of his friends and wanted me to join. They had finished the fish (which is fine by me since I don't eat fish), but there was still plenty of the rest of the dishes left (salad, fuul, eggplant, cauliflower, etc) that he had made from scratch. He said he sometimes likes to cook. It was all so delicious!!!Back in the salon to relax and write in my journal, Cookie was back on my knee. So cute.
At around 8 I went out for some dinner. I went to the restaurant that Alaa' works in. He is something like an accountant/cashier/manager. All he does is sign the receipts and later on balances the cash and receipts. Because of that, he could sit and talk. We had tea (or I had tea and he had the Turkish coffee that he seems to be addicted to). I then had dinner... chicken on rice with salad and fries (a bit of a bigger meal that what is on the menu) and a Nescafe with milk afterwards. When it was time for me to go, Alaa' refused to let me pay for my meal. :)

1 comment:

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