November 26, 1961 – Syria

Semiramis Hotel, Damascus, Syria – Clear

     It felt good to wake up this morning and not be rushed.  Our tour wasn’t scheduled to start until later than normal so Edith and I both took advantage of the chance to sleep in a little.  I ordered a simple breakfast and then returned to my room to pack up my overnight bag and to get ready to leave.  When I climbed on the bus I wasn’t looking forward to touring this morning and then driving all afternoon to get back to Beirut.  

     Our tour took us to the Umayyad Mosque that was one of the oldest and largest mosques in the world.  Josef told us that legend had it Gabriel was to sound the final trumpets from the minarets there.  The mosque was erected in 706 and stood on the site of the church named for John the Baptist.  A casket located in the chapel contained his head.  The walls of the mosque were covered with mosaics.  We were told that nine hundred Persian rugs covered the marble floor of the mosque and there was enough room for 15,000 men to pray at any given time.  Women were not permitted in the mosque so they had to pray at home instead.  In fact, I found out that the women had few if any privileges in many of the countries we’d traveled so far. 

Ummayad Mosque in Demascus

      Behind the town on Oassioun Hill Josef said was where Cain was supposed to have slain his brother Abel.

      Near the mosque we saw the Tomb of Saladin with a garden attached to it.  I noticed how reverent the people were who cared for the mosque and tomb.  We had a chance to go through a bazaar where I bought some candle holders and I also looked for gold bracelets again.  Eventually we found our way to the Street Called Straight and saw the Ananias’ house which had been turned into a chapel.  Once we were inside the chapel we had to walk down a flight of steps to where St. Paul was baptized.  I took pictures of St. John’s prison and saw the window where he escaped from Roman and Jewish pursuit.  Where they kept St. John was now St. Johns Church.  We even saw the Crusader’s castle and an ancient wall.

Street in Demascus

Street Called Straight in Demascus

Gate that Leads to Ananias House

St Paul's Prison and Window

Demascus Bazaar

Shops in Demascus Bazaar

     After finishing the tour of Damascus our bus drove back to Beirut over the mountains with its dangerous curves and many downhill stretches.  We were lucky because the area we were traveling in had experienced a heavy snow storm the week before we arrived and most of the snow had melted but along the way we encountered many Sunday drivers which created problems.  In the distance on our return trip we could see Mt. Hermon where Jesus named Peter as the head of the church.  Six days after he returned from the valley the transfiguration took place. 

      When we finally pulled into Beirut at the Riviera Hotel we were really glad to be there.  All we had to do at the front desk was to pick up the keys to the same rooms we’d had before so there wasn’t a big delay.  At dinner I was very disappointed because I had to send my food back.  They had given me a pork chop with mashed potatoes on top of it and then a soupy apple sauce on top of that which didn’t look appetizing at all.  When I asked the waiter to just bring me back a pork chop with mashed potatoes it was obvious he was mad.  Then Edith asked for some hot water to make her decaf coffee and the waiter got extremely angry and told her she would have to wait till the end of the meal.

      After dinner, tired and disgusted from our service, Edith and I retired to our room.  We had a lot to do since we were leaving early in the morning to go to Jordan.  I wanted to wash out a few things and take a bath before going to bed.  Edith wanted to take a bath and make a few notes for her letter back to the paper.  By the time Edith turned off the lights it was after 11 pm and I was already asleep.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: