The Afghans retain their cheerful spirit in spite of hardships. Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon/Gulf News

A holiday in Kabul isn't for everyone. In fact, it wouldn't appeal to most people. Given that several countries advise against all travel to Afghanistan, it probably isn't even advisable.

Having said that, I was thrilled when my husband agreed to travel to Kabul to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.

In pictures: Capturing the spirit of Kabul

Conflict might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Afghanistan but there is much more to the place than death and destruction. The country sits at the crossroads of major civilisations — China to the east; the Indian subcontinent to the south; the Levant to the west; and the former Russian satellites to the north. Each is reflected on the faces of the locals.

There is something special about Afghanistan and its people. It is a place that gets under your skin and creeps into your heart.

Perhaps it is the old-world feel, like stepping back 200 years in time. Or maybe it is the dry, dusty mountain air, which creates a soft haze and takes away all the sharp edges that gently softens not only the city but the people as well.

Colours are vibrant, smells are pungent and the Sun casts deep shadows on the low-rise buildings. And then there are the Afghans themselves, with their strong spirit, determined pride and quick smiles.

The photos here are a product of two whirlwind days of sightseeing, shopping and walking around the city. They are but a glimpse of Kabul — one I am pleased to share.