A tree and hills. Maalula, Rif-dimashq, Syria.

We’ve arived in Syria, actually we arrived earlier than expected (about 5.15am local time) and we were stuck in imigration for a while as our the tour rep hadn’t arrived at the airport!  That sorted and we got our first chance to change our money in to Syrian pounds…. except that we couldn’t… we only had travellers cheques and guess what no-one in Syria takes them.  Looks like we are going to have to hit the ATMs as soon as we can.  Good job I brought some cards with me, and good job I know how much or how little money I have in each account.

On board the coach we are told that we are to be taken to breakfast.  This is good.  Then after breakfast we will be on our first excusrion of the trip.  A visit to Maalula.  Oh boy… we’ve not been to bed for over 24hrs, we’ve not yet seen our hotel and we’ve no local money and were are already being taken on trips out!

Actually, Maalula is quite interesting, it is one of the few remaining places in the world where people still speak “Biblical Aramaic”.  We visit a chuch and some interesting cave dwellings next to it. 

Church of Saint Serge and Saint Bacchus with cave dwelling in front of it. Maalula, Rif-dimashq, Syria.

Then a 20 minute walk though a gorge brings us down into the heart of the village.

Hills and dwellings. Maalula, Rif-dimashq, Syria.

In the village locals are preparing and selling the local Arab bread.  I’m not sure that placing the bread on a conveniet wall is quite up to UK heigine standards.  I only hope that the food at the hotel is prepared differently!

Arab bread sellers. Maalula, Rif-dimashq, Syria.

After the tour of Maalula, we are taken to our hotel in Damascus and a chance to catch up on some well needed sleep.  At least no more tours to do today.  Tomorrow we get to see Damascus itself.