The Citadel and Christmas Eve celebrations

December 24th, 2008 by scott and becky
The palace above the citadel

The palace above the citadel

We awoke bright and early (OK, Scott woke Becky up at 9 am), to sun shine – although the sky was threatening rain. Since this was the first sign of decent weather in a few days, we headed up to the citadel to see what all the fuss was about. The Aleppo Citadel is one of the few must see places in Aleppo. We were amazed to discover that there was more to the citadel than the stunning views of Aleppo – there were many restored rooms and nooks and crannies to investigate. We spent a full two hours exploring before Becky was feeling too tired and in need of some food.

Some of the buildings within the citadel

Some of the buildings within the citadel

A group of schoolchildren eager to have their photo taken

A group of schoolchildren eager to have their photo taken

After Scott refused to pay 100 SP for 2 cups of tea at one of the tourist oriented shops outside the Citadel, we walked through the souk in search of some fresh juice and food. The fresh squeezed Orange juice is 50 SP for 2 glasses. As we were drinking, we were approached by Ahmed, who asked many questions about us. He invited us to see his shop (he is a silversmith). We declined saying that we needed to get food, so he offered to show us the best falafel place in the Souk. He brought us to a falafel vendor that was very clean and we had to agree they were the best falafels we have had so far. Ahmed then invited us to come to his shop to sit and enjoy are lunch. We agreed, and to make a long story short, we saw his merchandise and Scott bought Becky a nice necklace, bracelet, and earring set. We clearly have not perfected how to say no to people (another one of those Canadian traits that gets us into trouble!). That being said, Becky is very happy with her new jewelry.

By the time we returned to the hotel, Becky was not doing well. Her stomach was upset and she spent the rest of the afternoon napping.

Ahmed and the Cyclists (Ahmed, Roger, Mirelle, Katja, Miroslav, Peter, Wendy and Becky)

Ahmed and the Cyclists (Ahmed, Roger, Mirelle, Katja, Miroslav, Peter, Wendy and Becky)

For dinner on the 24th, Ahmed (the hotel manager, not the jewelry salesman) organized a potluck. We each contributed a dish and we had a wonderful, not even remotely traditional Christmas dinner. Becky was happy to be feeling up for the meal, but shortly afterwards, she was feeling unwell again.

Just before dinner, Fadi stopped by and delivered a couple of Christmas gifts to us. He and his family have been so good to us. Unfortunately, we had a miscommunication about dinner, and they thought we would be joining them for dinner on the 24th.

At 9:30 pm, Fadi came by to pick up Scott for the midnight church service with the rest of his family. They belong to the Greek Orthodox faith, and this Christmas Eve was a very special service, because the Patriarch of Jerusalem was leading the service. The church was huge, and completely packed, seating around 1000 people, with other people crowding in the aisles and standing outside.

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