“Where to eat in Raqqa”: Eerie lines from a 2009 Syria travel guide
“Despite being depicted by the US administration and Western media as a terrorist training ground, Syria is an extremely safe country to travel in. You can walk around virtually anywhere, day or night without any problems. Syrians are friendly and hospitable and if someone invites you to their village or home you should accept their offer."
It's hard to imagine Syria being described as an “extremely safe” country now, but that’s exactly the advice that a 2009 edition of the Lonely Planet Guide to Syria and Lebanon gives the Syria bound traveler. Just before the war, Syria was a jewel of culture and art renowned for the kindness of its people and the richness of its heritage.
Today, much of what once brought international visitors to the souqs of Damascus and the ancient neighborhoods of Aleppo lay in ruins as the bloody civil war enters its 6th year. Despite puzzling attempts by the Assad regime to bolster tourism in Syria, it’s unlikely that we’ll see foreign travelers return there anytime soon. For now, old guidebooks offer us a glimpse - an eerie and wistful glance - into what Syria once was.