In 2011, I had plans to visit Jordan and Syria. I wanted to see the big sights of Jordan — Petra, Wadi Rum — and the old streets and towns of Syria — Damascus, Aleppo. My plan was to travel with a friend in May. At the time of planning the travel, the Arab Spring was moving across the Maghreb and Middle East, with Jordan largely unaffected. Syria was not so lucky. At the time of planning the travel, people were dying in Syria at the hands of their own government, and my government, the Australian Government, had a warning against all non-essential travel to Syria. Although Jordan was still considered ok for tourists, my Syria experience would have to wait.
The Jordanians we spoke to in cafes, restaurants, tourist souvenir shops, would all shake their head about the horrors happening only 100km away. The Jordanians in cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops that were near to empty because of the Arab Spring. Tourists had stayed away ‘in droves’ in what was normally a peak tourist time.
My interest in travelling to Syria was sparked by at Canadian travel program I had watched one Saturday afternoon in Melbourne. After watching this program about this country I hadn’t previously thought much about, I wanted to see the 13th century fortress in Aleppo, the Krak des Chevaliers castle, wander the UNESCO site of Palmyra, and try the famous ice cream from Bakdash, the ice cream parlour more than 100 years old, in the Damascus souk. The ice cream that is held so close to the heart of Syrians, a new ‘outlet’ has opened in Jordan to treat the Syrian refugees.
Hopefully one day I will get there.
Here are some photos of Syria, before the conflict.