Day 4 - Fri 1 Dec 06
There's a lot less traffic out there today - you can tell it's a Friday! Skipped breakfast at the hotel; and had the croissant I got from my street vendor for about 1/18th of the cost. Walked down to the Hejaz railway station. I'd walked passed it the other day but was concentrating on not getting run over I failed to notice it. Inside is now a bookstore, but you can still buy train tickets there, for trains that leave from the Kadam station 5km to the south. No honestly!
Then it was a walk down to the National Museum. The Lonely Planet said it would cost me 300 to get in, but I was charged 150. It's got a lot of stuff, but the highlight has to be tomb they have transported from Palmyra. I was taking my time, and having a good look at all the exhibits but then one of the photo police came up and told me that the place was closing soon. Hmm, the LP said it shut at 4pm, and it's only 11:30, anyway I did the rest of the rooms and headed out. Had some issues getting back out onto the street as the gate was so stiff, but managed it (in the end).
Walked up to the old city and had a stop for some flat bread pizza. They don't like giving change (even tho' they have it), so I ended up getting two bits of bread - a good sales technique I guess. I'd never cross the road at home the way I do here, but then the traffic is generally running that bit slower here, and the drivers half expect you to step out.
Walked the entire length of Straight Street - most of the shops are shut, so it's quicker and quieter than yesterday. Interestingly the Christian quarter has a much different feel to it, the houses seem to be closer together and people live here, its not all just business premises.
Up to the house of Anayas (25SYP) to see where St. Paul was cured of his blindness, there's a very interesting little underground church here. Feeling rather tried now, but kept on walking, and managed to obtain some flat bread and soft cheese for 50SYP, so that's a cheap snack! After walking through some really old bits of Damascus I came out right next to the Citadel. Back to the hotel, via another street bakery and the Internet Cafe.
I've picked up a sore throat from the plane trip - it feels like I've got sandpaper down my throat. Also everyone in Syria smokes, all the time, everywhere. The average life expectancy can't be great. As the sun was setting I popped up to the roof of the hotel to get some photos of the hills that surround the city.