Qualche dritta per visitare i dintorni di Damascomarzo 6th, 2011 | Posted by in Siria
Some tips for visiting Damascus surroundings
Maaloula, Mar Musa and Quneitra are short day trips from Damascus. Someone told me that you could combine the first two, but I think it becomes a tour de force. In addition, having time, I highly recommend sleeping at least one night in Mar Musa monastery.
Mar Musa can be reached from the capital, taking a bus to Nebek. Then you must arrange yourself: usually the same driver intends to drop you to the monastery asking about 4 / 5 €. Or take a taxi, which will not cost you much more.
Even for Maaoloula there is a bus, direct, but from a different station.
For visiting Quneitra you need a permission to be requested to the Ministry of Interior, which is not far from the USA embassy. Permission is given without any difficulty, for free: on arrival you find a booth in which you present your request, and wait outside. Then a man comes, in my case he spoke a decent English, and he asks you if you are a tourist or something else, you give him the passport and the date of the visit, whether the same day or the next one.
If you arrive on site at opening time, around nine, you can have your permission in a quarter of an hour. Later, the waiting time increases. The same man give you the permit and the passport, and tells you which is the right minibus station.
Along the way there are various check-points: your guide get on the minibus on one of these, you give him the permit and the passport, that will be returned at the end of the visit. The complete tour of the city requires about an hour, during which you are always accompanied by the guide-cop: remember that the military facilities can not be photographed, when in doubt it is best to ask. At the end I tipped him: although he hardly spoke English, he gave very clear explanations and answers to my questions.
A general advice: very few people speak English in Syria, but everyone will do his best to help you in reaching your destination.