Friday, 13 February 2009


This is a dark city, which will come as no surprise, but the centre at least is not quite as dark as you might imagine. Sure, it doesn't have the brightness of Tel Aviv up the coast, but there are a few streetlights working, some private buildings have lights over public areas, there is light from the windows of some homes, and passing cars in early evening emit a mixture of helpful shine and blinding glare. The London blackout it is not, and one light a distance off can be very helpful. But away from the main highways are pools of blackness, and in the suburbs I am sure this is very often the case. There was no electricity cut during my night in the city.

The European Parliament delegation stayed in the Commodore Hotel with its views over the sea (not for me). Its a normal business or tourist hotel, as good as any 3* you might find anywhere, albeit short on supplies with bread, salad and hummous dominating the menu. My room was comfortable. I slept well and had a warm shower in the morning - not what I had expected. Shame about the swimming pool. It is not very big, but empty and half filled with rubble from a nearby bomb blast it didn't look very inviting. Remember, this is a normal city experiencing a very abnormal situation.

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