Set in a valley nestled between the hills, Nablus is a sprawling city that, despite the economic woes currently ravaging the West Bank, is home to a whole load of new construction work.
But the hidden gem of this city is the old quarter – only a 5 minute walk from the Project Hope house.
Here, the wide streets suddenly shrink into a maze of winding alleys and a buzzing patchwork of little markets and shops.
It really is a feast for all the senses. The sounds of market sellers touting their wares, the cramped chickens squawking at the egg stalls, the children running around while their mothers buy them new clothes.
The smells are vivid and varied too. Freshly ground Arabic coffee and spices mix with the smell of animals and freshly made pitta bread.
In the mornings when I don’t have classes, there’s nothing better than to stroll through the old city, sipping Arabic coffee at one of the many coffee shops where old Palestinian men while away the time drinking and smoking shisha (never a quick stop as you are always invited to join them and have wide ranging discussions in broken Arabic and English). Lunch can either be a falafel pitta (only 50p) or you can buy a half kilo of pitta (25p) and some hummus to take home.
It’s hard to imagine that just over five years ago, during the second intifada, these streets were home to Israeli tanks and that curfews kept citizens in their homes for 40 days at a time.
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