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After your visit to the Hakawati, why not take a little stroll through the Old City? You might follow your nose and find yourself in the Sûq al-Buzûriyya with its fragrant aromas of spices, herbs, and sweets. Grab some nougat or chocolate from one of the old sweets shops, try your hand at some nuts and seeds (can you crack them in your mouth and spit out only the shell, no hands?). Then pay a visit to the nearby Qasr al-‘Azm Museum for a walk into the past, for it’s always safest there. A trip to the Hammam Nouri Pasha baths just might wash off the sweat and anxiety caused by navigating now over-crowded and polluted streets, the product of mismanagement and corruption from the highest levels of government. Just keep your eyes down lest the watchful thugs of Internal Security suspect you are anything more than a mere visitor. Ma’lish. Remember that Syrians have dealt with this every single day of their lives for five decades! You get used to it … until you’ve had enough.

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