We found ourselves in a nice hotel in Hama, welcomed by more free tea which flows freely everywhere. Its strong and sweet and asking for milk is a huge no-no, I am actually starting to like it though and even managing to enjoy the strong black Turkish coffee. We got the last room which was really like an afterthought of a building on the roof. But a bed which is good and cheap which is better. At all these hotels there are roof terraces which you can sleep on for half the price of a room on a mattress on the floor. I may have taken advantage of these more if I was alone, and especially at this place our room seemed like an oven compared to the breezy roof terrace which had a whole Korean family on it, 6 kids and parents travelling around the world for 3 years. Pretty epic undertaking as I can barely manage to look after myself.
Hama is famous for its giant waterwheels which really are just giant waterwheels, however the lack of water in the river made them slightly underwhelming. The town was nice, quite and had a nice park through it with a nice old city, but it was small and we were done within 30 mins, we grabbed some falafel sandwiches and juice (our favourite food!) and found an internet cafe and spent a bit of time chatting to an Aussie guy up on the roof. From the roof we were surrounded by about 6 mosques which all went off at once, pretty intense!
The next day we shared a taxi with the Aussie, Tony, on a bit of a tour organised by the hotel to see the famous crusader castles, the big one being Krac de Chavilliars. Syria’s most famous monument- even if the whole idea behind the crusader castles is really awful. We stopped at another castle on the way somewhere which was cool, just cool to wander around through all the tunnels and find the secret passage ways.
We drove through this mountain valley and saw a bit more of rural Syria and finally some greenery as the rest of the country is pretty much desert. We arrived at Krac and drove up the precariously thin roads to meet a few tour buses of Arab tourists and wandered around the castle. It is very well preserved and very impressive. We had fun imagining how they would fight off invaders, mum insisted that the holes on the outer windows are for pouring hot oil down on people trying to scale the walls. There was a concert or something being set up for so the middle of the castle was full of a stage and chairs, unfortunately there was a lot of rubbish around and quite a few rooms had been used as storage to store lots of old tables and rubbish. But it was cool, very big and great views of the valleys below.
We headed back down the valley towards town where me and mum jumped on a bus to Aleppo, the second biggest city in Syria. It was only a 2 hour ride away, which was lucky as not a super comfy bus. According to the lonely planet the hotel was close to the bus station, so we attempted to walk, turns out the hotel was not that close…or maybe we were at a different bus station. Anyway after about half an hour and asking multiple people for directions we finally made it to the hotel almost dying of exhaustion under our heavy packs which seem to be getting heavier by the day. Luckily people are really friendly and its not a bad place to walk around, nice and clean with big wide roads, but very glad to finally make it to the hostel, our last stop in Syria before moving on to Turkey!
Tags: 1, blogsherpa, Hama, Krak des Chevaliers, Syria, TRAVELS 2008