The best advice I’ve had about Damascus is to throw away the map, soak up the atmosphere. In this way I stumble across an atmospheric bar called the Gallery Cafe. Inside it’s a mix of shish pipes, trailing ivy and a wooden mezzanine floor.
Some Orthodox Christian teenage Syrians ask me to join them. They tell me how they tap out text messages in the Roman alphabet, but use the Arabic language – ie they transliterate their own language by foreign characters which are more compatible with the technology.