From Hama this morning we drove north to Aleppo, once the largest city in the country and the focal point of the Syrian civil war that had decimated much of the population.
Once reaching Aleppo 2 hours in, we checked into our hotel at the fancy upmarket Laurus Hotel with its Western rooftop bar that would give even the ones back home a run for its money.
We then took a short walk through the city center of one of the oldest continually-inhabited cities in the world.
We observed the destruction that occurred in the conflict with Daesh . . .
. . . as well as the ruins from the recent earthquake 7 months ago.
Some parts have been fully restored, giving Aleppo hope for renewal:
Look around hard enough and you might even spot a rare Star of David somewhere here:
We then walked back through the old covered souk . . .
. . . which is still being renovated from the war.
We even did some souvenir shopping while here. Tourism is coming back!
We then finished our walk at the well-known Aleppo Citadel, a massive medieval-era fortress in the middle of the city:
Although currently closed for renovations, the citadel has still survived nearly everything time has thrown at it while surrounded by rubble of a more modern city.
Jumping from shade to shade under a fiery sun that reminded us of our week in Crete 2 months ago, we stopped for a late lunch by the citadel and a historic ice cream shop for dessert. The almond pudding and frozen dairy treats were out of this world.
We then drove on to the famous Aleppo soap factory for souvenir shopping.
The owners here insisted on taking a photo with us afterwards:
After an hour at the soap factory, we made a quick stop at the Aleppo clock tower before heading back to the hotel.
We returned just in time for sunset at the rooftop.
As the adhan played, we took it all in. This is Aleppo.
Not many moments like these.
After sunset, the 12 of us checked in for our 7pm reservations at our hotel for communal cleansing. The hotel had a decent gym (with weights going up to 60kg dumbbells!), dry and wet saunas, cold plunge, turkish baths, and scrub all for $17 USD per person, as well as an optional 10 minute massage for $4 USD per person. Taking advantage of these prices!
At 9pm we reconvened for dinner back at the hotel’s rooftop, after which some of us stayed up chatting over shisha and dessert until 12:30am.
- At time of posting in Aleppo, it was 27 °C - Humidity: 49% | Wind Speed: 14km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear, mostly sunny