Next morning we changed hotel - the Baron's faded grandeur had got to us and we moved to a cheaper place. We then tried to get our visas renewed. We had been told we needed to go to the immigration police, so after getting photos done, a taxi ride and spending 10 minutes trying to finding which counter to go, we found an official who said no problem - you can stay in the country for 30 days with this visa (even though we had a form which said go to police after 15 days!). Now we have to wait to see if we can get through the border without a fine.
Next we went to the train station to book a ticket out on Friday. We queued to get a ticket and then gave all the details needed. The response was you have to register your id first, at a different counter. Eventually we registered our passports and no problems we could get a ticket. (It is not just foreigners who have to do this - everybody has to show ID card to get ticket - it certainly seems like a police state).
We then set off to see the Citadel. It is an impressive place. You enter through a magnificent entrance gate after climbing up lots of steps. We went through an enormous metal gate and then found another set of stairs which took us into an impressive large reception room. Through a little gap and then along a wall (this route would definitely not pass health and safety laws) and we were into the citadel. The citadel itself was a large site but mostly ruins but it did give good views over Aleppo. It didn't help that we seemed to have half the towns teenagers going round it with us.We went back into Souq and Fran found another shop selling Susanis. Fran decided she wanted to look at the previous one, so we traipsed off to find that. This was decidedly odd as the original shop owner would not talk to us. We found out it was a sophisticated scam - he talks one price down but would not sell it to you but sells other stuff at ridiculously expensive prices. Eventually Fran decided to buy the second one.- quickly followed by a silver necklace.
I needed some relief so rushed Fran to the Christian and Armenian quarter. Here there were less shops and other things to see. These quarters are more recent than the old city (17th C) with some lovely houses that have been converted to hotels/restaurants and lots of churches. In the Armenian church, saw a painting that purported to be by Leonardo Da Vinci! According to our guide in the church, it was purchased by a rich Armenian after it was painted and then given to the church for tax reasons.
On our last day here, we went off to look at the Basilica of Saint Simeon. It was built about 30km from Aleppo in the 4th century. It was built to honour a monk who decided being a monk was too easy, so then tried being a hermit. Unfortunately that didn't work as he became famous for his piety, so people flocked to see him. He then decided to spend his time on top of a pillar to get away from all of the people. He just sounds like a grumpy old man to me! Anyway, they built a church around his pillar.
The ruins of the church are impressive as are the views as the church was also like a fortress on top of the hill. The pillar is in the middle of the church but had been reduced to a stump by pilgrims taking bits from it. We visited on a Friday and the place was full of local people having a day out as well as tour groups.
After this we returned to Aleppo, and did a bit of people watching in the café outside the citadel. Whilst we were there a convoy of cars pulled into the nearby 5* hotel - complete with stretch limo. Some very undistinguished men got out of the limo and proceeded to set next to us in the café . We were quite disappointed as we did not recognise any of them.