Monthly Archives: April 2011

Istanbul and Büyükada: Horses, Cats, Rain and Bullshit

I found myself in Kadıköy, which is the center of the Asian side of Istanbul (side note: as I realised later, the Asian side of Istanbul is a lot more European and vice versa!)… Continue reading

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Caught In No Man’s Land at the Turkish Border

So yes, I needed to go back to Syria. Sure. Only problem was that I had a single entry visa and I was already stamped out. If the Turks didn’t let me in, I was in no man’s land, unable to get into Turkey and unable to return to Syria. I literally had nowhere to go. And to think that my Canadian visa rejection made me feel like Victor Naborski (of The Terminal)! This was the real thing! Continue reading

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Syria roundup: people, places, food, money, revolution.

…I discovered that Syria is actually a secular country. The mistake we make is that we equate the word “Arab” with the people and places in “The Gulf”. Whereas “The Gulf” is only one small portion of the Arab World. The majority of the world’s Arabs can not relate to (and sometimes even resent) the people from “The Gulf”. Continue reading

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Aleppo: Citadel, Hamams, More Souqs and Some Great Company

In Aleppo, my picture taking and story telling activities take a back seat to the conversations with some interesting fellow travellers. Continue reading

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Hama: Norias, Assassins, St. George and the Krak

Hama is a small-ish town by the Orontes river and is well known for it’s Norias (waterwheels) and aqueducts. It is also a great base for exploring some nearby attractions such as the Misyaf Castle and the Krak des Chevaliers. Continue reading

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Palmyra: The Bride of the Desert

Nothing can prepare you for your first view of Palmyra’s magnificence. I walked around in a daze for an hour, talked to a Bedouin who approached me with his camel, and just sat there staring at the ruins for some time, wondering how magnificent the city must have been in its heyday. Continue reading

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Bosra, More Nargileh and the Problem With Hindi

The Romans erected these Amphitheaters all over their empire. Many survive, including the most famous one (the Colosseum in Rome), but few are more than ruins. The one in Bosra is one of the most well preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world, and was the primary reason for my visit. Continue reading

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Damascus: Palace, Syrian Honesty, Cheats and Barbershops

The one with a tourist site, a display of Syrian Honesty, the Great Shoe-Repair Ripoff™ and the Arabic Barbershop Experience™ Continue reading

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Damascus: St. Paul, St. Thomas and the Most Expensive Piss in the World

In between sessions I walked around town, visited some of the same places I went to yesterday, and explored more of the narrow old town alleys. I saw the chapel of St. Paul and the chapel of some other dude who gave him back his eyesight. Okay I should probably narrate that story as it is a very important chapter in Christian history… Continue reading

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Damascus: History, Souqs, Tea and People-Watching

One gets a very medieval feel while walking down the narrow, twisting alleyways and stone- paved streets of the old city. Of course, the Hyundais, Skodas, Ladas, Dacias and Geelys dampen this feeling a little but that is the price one must pay for “progress”. Continue reading

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