Today is the first official tour day in Damascus and we've already broken it by seeing one of the places on the tour yesterday. So the tour starts off at point two, the Chapel of St. Paul, set in the city wall at Bab Kisan, the ancient city gate through which Paul was lowered out of a window in Acts 9:25.

It turns out we're OK to interrupt a service if tourism may be at stake, as we wander in and receive a description of the chapel, and a look at what may or may not be the Actual Basket.

From Bab Kisan, we head around to the Christian Quarter of Damascus. It's Palm Sunday, so everyone is out in their Sunday best and the streets are ringing with the sound of drums. The first stop there is the church under the House of Ananias, the earliest surviving Christian house of worship in Damascus.

Sherif paints a picture of a good relationship between Muslim and Christian in Syria. While the weekend is Friday-Saturday, Christians at least in public jobs are granted Sunday mornings off to worship.

From there we wind our way further into the Old Town through the souqs until we get to the Azem Palace, an example of traditional Damascene architecture complete with separate ladies' and gentlemens' quarters. Built for the governer of Damascus in 1750, it's now a museum of art and folk traditions.

The final stop in the Old Town is the Ummayad Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in the world. It's an impressive building, constructed on a grand scale.

After our tour of the Old Town, we head back to the bus and make our way out of the city up to Mount Qasioun for a view over the city and a swift look at the directions in which Damascus is beginning to sprawl over the mountains.

The evening brings a meal in the Ommayid Palace Restaurant. The bus turns up at our hotel too pick us up and tries to bring us to the Old Town. Unfortunately, it gets turned away by police. Our driver gets a series of phone calls which in traffic, and on account of his Western passengers, tries to pretend he's not talking while driving. We crawl around the block in the heavy traffic and try again, miraculously making it past the police on the second try. The driver turns out not to have a clear idea where he's going as he very skillfully threads us through impossible gaps in what ultimately turns out to be a futile route through the souq. He goes on to show even more skill reversing the bus back after he's told the correct route to the restaurant. Sherif meets us and explains that he had to tell the police to let us in.

The restaurant comes complete with musical entertainment and whirling dervishes.

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