We took the train from Aleppo to Lattakia on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, and known as the most laid-back place in Syria. We agree.


It has been a major port since Roman times but the only signs of those days are the odd columns – often sticking up from traffic roundabouts as in our photo below.


Lattakia also has the usual old city area teeming with old stone Arab houses opening onto narrow alleys and, most amazingly, it has what the locals call the ‘American Quarter’.

A couple of streets that teem with very modern, very western, bars, restaurants and cafes.

In the summer this coastline, as well as Lattakia there are two other major towns: Tartus and Baniyas; teems with Syrians on holiday.

Now it is quiet except for the evenings when the ‘American quarter’ is mecca for the local young people.

We came here as a staging post from which to visit Saladin’s Castle. More on that next time.