Roaming Roman ruins... and then scrambling for bus tickets
19.02.2010 - 19.02.2010 15 °C
Bosra is a Roman ruins site about two hours' bus ride south of Damascus. We arrived for a day trip, on a sunny but chilly day and immediately headed for the Roman Theatre, which uniquely, gradually had Arabic fortifications built around it (a Citadel). The caverns were dark and narrow in some places, and we had to use our camera flash to explore some places as we didn't bring torches. Thank goodness for digital photos that can be deleted by a push of a button!
We emerged into the sunlight at the top of the majestic Theatre's terraced seating. Again a perk of travelling off-season, it was almost empty. There were only a few of us clamouring up and down the multi-layered seating, and a small group of people sat and stood on the seats and were dancing to Arabic music blaring from a mobile phone.
After wandering the Citadel we headed into the 'Old Town' which was more ruins built in black basalt (as opposed to sandstone), both Roman and Arabic. We passed Corinthian columns, a nyphaneum, a Roman market and ancient mosque. The highlight was Hamman Manjak, which had a big pink-hued square basin and also small arched shower-shaped alcoves in the neighboring room walls. We stopped to snap small boys playing amongst the ruins - what a terrific playground to grow up with! - and also to peruse over the many brightly-coloured ceramic plates and vases on sale. We brushed aside any worries about postage back to NZ as we bought a couple of hexagonal vases with fish painted from a small local stall, and chatted with the amiable owner.
Unfortunately, once we went to book our return bus tickets home we discovered that all the seats were booked and we'd have to wait two hours for the next (last one), and even then that might be full! However we were a little sceptical of the restaurant boys, who had beckoned us to come inside with the lure of organising our seats for us, while they phoned the bus company at "no commission". A little unsure of what the catch would be (cynical but practical of us) we went to our ceramic seller, who phoned for us, but yes indeed our desired bus departure was full, but if we ran now, we could grab the last remaining seats on the last bus of the day. As the only accomodation in Bosra was a multi-star joint, we headed to the nearby ticket office quick smart.
We rejoined our new friend at 'Al Omari' stall and had pleasant tea with him, sharing our mush mush (apricots) with him and his friend who enthusiastically conversed with us in Arabic. Again, our pidgin greetings were taken to mean we had a much greater lexicon than we actually did!
After a pleasant day out we returned back to Damascus on the bus, but not before being told by the now less-friendly restaurant boys that they got us tickets but "gave to 'others' now". We are still unsure if it was genuine kindness and benevolence misunderstood by us, or we narrowly avoided an unexpected monetary surprise.
The citadel caverns leading to the Theatre
The terrific Theatre
Young Syrians dancing to a traditional tune - played via mobile phone
Chalky ponders the stage
Both smiling but secretly wanting to jostle for operatic space
Wandering the Old Town
Near the Decumanus (colonade)
An exposed mosaic floor
Cute local boys
6th century cathedral
[i[Some of the brightly-coloured ceramics on sale[/i]