One of my best friends -Dina- is here in Amman for the summer, running away from the heat of the Gulf, and spending some time with family and friends, Dina made the choice to live abroad about a year ago, since then our friendship has become quite the hassle, we put an enormous effort to stay in touch, and to spend time together when she’s in Amman, I have to make her feel like she’s still part of our lives and that she’s not missing much.
Last week, Dina calls me up to tell me that she has to go to Syria to attend a friend’s wedding, and that I have to go with her because none else can! I – being a person who hates going to Syria so much – tried to get myself out of this trip, but fortunately I failed miserably, this was not my first time in Syria but it definitely was the best! Apparently Damascus is not – at all – the dirty, crowded, stinky and uncivilized city that most Jordanians believe it to be. Damascus is the oldest continuously inhibited city in the world, and this is quite apparent in the streets, buildings and urban life of Damascus, whether it has always been like this or not I’m not really sure, but Damascus is certainly changing, I’m not going to dwell much about the city itself, but I want to list the places that I visited and loved there, so if you’re wondering where to go in Damascus, here’s a list:
– Gemini Group: a Syrian chain of restaurants and cafes scattered all over the city, the one I went to – Sahara – is more of a club located in the midst of AlMazzeh Highway has this wonderful outdoor garden and a huge variety of dishes and beverages, a huge gym, horseback riding and play areas for kids.
– Swiss House: right before Gimini’s Sahara on AlMazzeh Highway, a beautiful restaurant; old wood, exotic trees all around and a swamp with frogs and grass.
– Four Seasons Boulevard: on the western side of Four Seasons Hotel one finds a variety of fashion brand shops, restaurants, and coffee-shops like Costa, Rotana Cafe, while the ambiance of Rotana Cafe is really not my taste as I’m not into this Arabic pop music or this kind of posh setting, the breakfast on the terrace of Rotana Cafe was really nice, excellent food and a very nice view of the public parks and streets.
– Bloudan – Karm AlAlali Restaurant: on the top of Bloudan mountains, this amazing view of Damascus city, a lovely selection of Syrian food and wonderful sunset.
– Beit Alyasmeen: In old Damascus Bab Toma, there’s this wonderful old house that is now a restaurant, excellent food, beautiful smell of Jasmine, Fairuz singing in the background, everything is just so relaxing and refreshing.
– Naranj: In old Damascus, at the end of Medhat Basha street is this awesome restaurant, the most delicious food in the world, so classy and elegant, with a beautiful rooftop setting, a wide selection of Arabic food, excellent service, and Oh My God lovely pleasant ambiance, so warm and welcoming. Naranj is part of Gemini Group, a bit expensive compared to other Syrian restaurants, but quite acceptable compared to Jordanian restaurants.
I wanted to visit other places like Qasyoun Mountain and Mashroo3 Dummar but we ran out of time, all in all it was a very nice trip, I’m glad I went with Dina, I do recommend everyone to visit Damascus.