ABOUT THIS TRAVEL
When: 20th April- 08th May, 2007
How I moved: buses and minibus are the best bet. The service of some deluxe buses (Palmyra- Damasco) will surprise you. On the other hand trains seem don't like passengers apart from the Aleppo- Latakia leg.
Freezing or baking?: wonderful temperature in April- May when a sweater is enough, while in summer it's a furnace.
Where I slept: it's plenty of basic accommodations and cleanness isn't often included in the price. At least it comes less than 10$ for a double
What I liked: the country is safe, touts not existent and traveling is quite cheap. Visiting Quneitra and all its history turned out very interesting
What I disliked: the monotony of the landscape, all flat and dry (left out the mountain range along the coast) and the amazing dirtiness!! Arwad island wins the "dump of the year" syrian award :-)
How much daily: Syria is cheap!! I'd say that a low budget averages around 15$, "shrinkable" though
Dangers/ hassles: forget terrorism or any kind of anger against western, however Islam here is quite severe, so be cautious/ respectful in particular n anything involving women (i.e. pictures, wearing, comments...). Israel is a hot topic, skip it!
What to bring: sunglasses, a cap and "some trust in the people", useful when you'll get invited in their home
THE TRAVEL IN SYRIA
Let's begin with the weak points: left out some areas (i.e.,
between Aleppo and Latakia), Syria won't definitely win the award for
the variety and the beauty of the environment, and after a while you'll
get a little fed up of dry flat lands. Moreover dirtiness cannot pass
unnoticed, especially when it gets to the extent of throwing the rubbish
bags in the sea as it happens in Arward. It's a pity because the respect
for the own land it's not a matter of income and at the end it really
impacts on the image if the country.
I got the visa in advance (in Italy, 40 euro, 4 days): easy to have unless there's any evidence you have been in Israel. At the border they checked every single stamp of my 30 pages full passport. At the bus station you can be asked to register your presence, in particalr in Quamishle and Deir Er Zur
At the time of travelling (May07) 1 USD= 52 SYP. You can change both euro and dollar easily.
I had the usual vaccinations: ephatite A, B, typhus and tetanus but I took nothing against malaria. I hadn't any problem with the food or the drink, anyway I never drank tap water.
I used Lonely Planet edition Nov2004.
I tried my best to take the train from Deir Ez Zur to Aleppo; I asked for the schedule one day in advance, but when I got at the station, I realised they gave me the wrong one. It seems the trains pass through Deir Ez Zur just in the hearth of the night. I only succeded in getting the train from Aleppo to Latakia
In case you decide to visit Arward island be aware it's a dump, not saying the nice boat trip it isn't worthwhile though, especially if it's your only chance to enjoy the Syrian sea