- Travel Experiences

Syria – Middle East Tour 2006 [Part 4]

In December 2006 more than 130 South Africans went on a 2 week tour through 5 countries in the Middle East. After the previous 9 days in Egypt, Jordan and Palestine we would proceed by bus from Amman to Damascus on our 10th day.

We arrived at the Syrian Nassib border control in the early afternoon.

Nassib Immigration Passport Center Syria

We were welcomed by images of this man that we would unfortunately all learn the name of one day.

Assad picture Syria border

We arrived in central Damascus that evening and checked into our hotel. I wonder if is still exists today?

Al Iwan Hotel Damascus

Damascus was so full of life!

Bustling streets of Damascus at night

Hamidiya souk Damascus

We embarked on a walking tour of the massive Hamadia Souk.

Hamidiya SOuk Daascus 06

Shop in Hamidiya SOuk 2006

We then arrived at the majestic Ommayyid Masjid where we learned that the head of Yahya A.S. (John the Baptist) is housed there. When Eesa A.S. (Jesus) returns to Earth one day, he will descend from a the minaret on this masjid, etc).

Outside Umayyad Mosque Syria

I don’t believe that I will have the opportunity to stand in that spot in the masjid again in my life time.

Zaid in Omayyad Mosque Syria

Omayyad Mosque exterior minaret

Omayyad mosque Musallah

The Omayyid mosque in Aleppo was destroyed. I have read that the Umayyad mosque in Damascus was damaged but I haven’t been able to find any recent images of it.

We returned to out hotel for a later dinner on that first night.

On our 11th morning we visited the graves of Hazrat Bilal (R.A.) and Jaffer ibn Abi Talib.

It began to snow as we were making a day trip to Homs.

Our only interest in Homs was the Khaled bin Walid mosque.
Kha;id Bin Walid Mosque Homs Syria 2006

Khalid bin Walid was given the title of “The Sword of God” for his military prowess and tactics.

Grave Khalid Bin Walid Homs

It’s a good thing that we visited this site when we had the opportunity as Assad’s forces have now destroyed it.

We had a light lunch in a restaurant in Homs that afternoon.

Group lunch Homs

I recall us ordering extra kebab.

Light appetizer Homs Syria lunch

We got caught in a snow storm heading back to Damascus. It took us over 5 hours. We had dinner at the hotel.

Dinner Hotel Damascus

Some of us young people wanted to go out for chai. We found a local minibus and got the driver to take us to a once cool coffee shop on a hill overlooking the city.

Taxi Damascus 2

They offered some appertisers (which we had to pay for) with the chai we ordered.

Having fruits at cafe in Damascus

Good memories!

Group photo Damascus cafe

Overlooking Damascus at night before the war.

Overlooking Damascus at night in Syria 2006

On the 12th morning we had brunch at a restaurant in Damascus.

Al Kamal restaurant Damascus

Some of us did some final shopping in a few shops nearby.

Damascus street yellow cab 2006

We then boarded the bus and headed towards the border.

Bus inside Syria to Beirut

Inside bus Syria to Lebanon

We would exit Syria at the Al Joedeh border alongside Lebanon.

Al Joedeh immigration border Syria

I remember some of us chilling in the snow.

The final pictures I have of Syria are of one of the worst persons in history.

Exit sign from Syria

Assad picture Syrian border

Continue reading Part 5: Lebanon

About Zaid

Zaid is an intrepid traveler from South Africa that has traveled to all 7 continents. He loves to explore new destinations, experience new activities and go off the beaten path.
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