trip: Aleppo to Hama
how: by bus, Al-Sutan Bus Co.
miles total: 4258
Although sad to leave Aleppo, I was excited to see more of Syria. We left Aleppo on a morning bus to Hama with our new friend Lindsay who was living in Damascus for 2 months (she is from NY). Hama is where we were basing ourselves and making day trips to Crac de Chevaliers, Palmyra, and Apamea. The bus took about 1 1/2 hours and then before we knew it we were negotiating, yet again, a decent taxi price into town (it’s not the fact that I can’t afford a 1 euro taxi ride, it’s the fact that it should only be 20 cents, this is what bothers me the most).
Hama is known for it ‘norias’ (water wheels), which on a boiling hot day are just worth a picture then an immediate escape in to the closest cafe, otherwise you might be tempted to jump into the oh so lovely green water being turned by the wheels. We stayed at Hotel Riad, the hotel was central, clean, cheap and had AC… what more could you ask for?
That afternoon we made our way to Apamea (in arabic it is pronounced as Afamea) in a minibus. At least, I hoped it was going to Apamea, but sometimes you are never sure if they understand or they just say ‘yes’ to make you pay. Either way, we made it. Another thing that makes it a little tricky is when you go to show them your map of where you want to go and then you realize that you are showing them Apamea in English letters and not Arabic…oops…this is soon followed by the blank stare.
Apamea, as Lonely Planet states, is a condensed version of Palmyra (another Roman ruins site). The grand colonnade is the most extensive and best preserved in the Middle East. We got dropped off about 2 km from the actual ruins and hitchhiked our way up. Some kind Italians picked us up and also took us all the way back to Hama in the evening.
That’s when it started I suppose… the weird stomach grumbling. We went for a falafel that evening, but I couldn’t even bare to eat it because I felt so sick. I ran back to the hotel and stayed there for the net 36 hours. bed toilet bed toilet bed toilet… you get the idea. Unfortunately, between the vomiting, fever, and diarrhea it just didn’t stop. Our time in Hama was cut short and we had to make an emergency trip to Damascus to go to a hospital. No Palmyra and No Crac de Chevaliers (and nothing left in me).
cheers to good health.