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Raqqa to Palmyra

Or not

semi-overcast 17 °C

It was further than we thought from central Raqqa to the highway. We probably hiked for 4 miles or so to get to what we thought was the highway. There followed the most confused and messiest session of hitching to date.

We basically began on the wrong road, we were on a medium size Raqqa ring road thing, only a half mile from the main highway, so the map wasn't low-scale enough to tell us that. We stopped like 3 cars, all of whom were well confused. They couldn't understand us, we couldn't understand them. Presumably they were asking why the fuck we were asking for a ride to Hammam when we were on the road back to Raqqa.

Many confused conversations later, we switched sides of the road, which was one step in the right direction. Now we could get a ride to the main highway, but we still thought we were on it. Some local was trying to help us, but was half-hindering us. He was stopping loads of cars, but he didn't get the concept of hitching at all. He was clearly waiting for a car to be going all the way to Palmyra, and couldn't ge the idea that it might be easier just to hitch 10k down the road for starters.

Anyway, eventually we got on a minivan. We realised our mistake when we got to the massive highway, where we got out and started hitching to Hammam.

Basically the plan was to hitch Westwards on the big highway to Hammam, then Southwards from Hammam on a smaller road all the way to Palmyra. This was shorter but involved smaller roads than the alternative route right round the big highway down to the South East to Dayz a Zur, and then Westwards from there.

We walked another half kilometer down the highway and began hitching. Pretty quickly we picked up a ride in another pick up. It had some pretty knarly looking equipment in the back, turned out to be an operating table. This was simultaneously grimey and hilarious. We both lay in it for a bit, pretending to operate on each other, as the world blasted past at 60 mph. We got a lot of weird looks. In the end one of the leg supports actually fell off. We hadn't broken it, but you'd need a screwdriver to fix it, so we stopped fucking around with it and chilled til we fot to Hammam.

The guys up front were legends and they let us out here. We hadn't seen the road South yet, so we started hiking up through the town. This is the biggest shithole we have yet been to in Syria. We saw almost no-one, just dead animals, roadkill, scrawny chickens and dusty, battered homes. We probably walked for another 3 miles through the town, right to its limits, without seeing the road. By now we were getting grumpy. We had covered a lot of ground on foot and were pretty knackered. We hadn't seen the road, but we were failing to communicate what we wanted with anyone and just getting irritable. So when a massive truck pulled up ahead of us and agreed to take us to "the road to Palmyra" when we asked him, we accepted. I think we both knew that he didn't understand and that we weren't going to end up in Palmyra, but we just wanted a ride. In the end we gave up, and asked him if he would take us all the way with him to Alleppo.

Massive ride through the desert with this guy was pretty cool. He drove at around 80 kmph. We tried to chat, but it didn't go as well as it does with some people, with my limited Arabic the quality of conversations varies a lot.

Anyway, we ended up in Aleppo and went searching for a hotel. We went to the place recommended in the Lonely Planet as being cheap (Hotel Hadi), but as usual they were chatting total shit. It was well expensive, so we kept looking and ended up at another hotel (forget the name) for a lot less.

After this not a lot happened. We went to the Internet Cafe to blog, and grabbed some Falafel. We didn't feel too guilty about wasting, since we had already done Aleppo pretty thoroughly. We just went to bed.

Posted by bj_945 13:28 Archived in Syria

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