16.03.2010 - 17.03.2010 24 °C
Next day we got up fairly early. We had decided not to bother hitching to Lattakia: the roads looked to small and complicated, plus we were tired of the hassle. We got a taxi to the bus stop and bought tickets to Lattakia for 150 SYP each.
The trip was uneventful, it only took a couple of hours. The scenery was pretty cool, twisty roads through valleys. We were in Lattakia before sunset, and set about looking for a hotel. We got totally lost, and got a taxi who was no help at all. He picked us up in some random part of the city, and dropped us off in some random part of the city, assuring us that Hotel Lattakia was nearby. It just wasn't, but some locals walked us the 15 minutes through town to the correct part of the city.
The hotel was recommended by Lonely Planet (which we long ago began referring to as Bullshit Planet), and this was one of the few genuine steals the whole book has given us. It cost 600 SYP for a proper lush room with TV and Shower. Anyway, after checking in we watched some BBC News on the ensuing Israeli Settlements Debacle, some mild US wrist-slapping and some bolshy Israeli defiance, and then went out for a meal. We got a couple of steaks in a restaurant called Cactus for about 5 quid each. It was quite expensive, but we both wanted steak so badly. It had actually been the main topic of conversation for weeks, so we weren't bothered. Lattakia's restaurants are awesome, and we splashed out a bit.
After this, we went in search of a bar. None to be found. We even went to the extent of asking two Hijab-wearing women on the street where a bar was. Predictably they didn't know what a "bar" was, but asked if we wanted a coffee shop. We ploughed on, tactically deciding to visit the Hotel Riviera Bar. Absolutely no-one was there, but the Guy behind the bar told us to go to the American District. We didn't have a clue where this was, so we got a taxi there. It later transpired that it was literally 2 minutes from our hotel.
There were Restaurant-Bars there, but no bars. We had been discussing this commonly-shared dreamy vision of a proper bar with cheap beer and Scandinavian women, but regrettably we never found it in the whole of Lattakia. In fact, we're still looking. In the end we settled into one of the resto-bars and had a couple of beers and a homous, before rolling home in the early hours of the morning.
The next day we got up ridiculously late, and decided to go looking for a beach. The Bullshit Planet mentioned that you could pay to get access to a private beach owned by a plush hotel a little way North of central Lattakia. We drifted that way, on the lookout for Falafel along the way. We found nothing except a little shop selling rolled up chicken and chips in a wrap. The chips were so greasy they were mushy. I didn't greatly enjoy paying 50 SYP for Coronorary Heart Disease, but whatever, it was all there was around for breakfast.
We rocked up at the plush hotel, which was called the Rotana hotel, and just rolled in. No-one stopped us, so we went straight to the beach. Totally chill, no-one was going to make us pay for anything. We were gonna gofor a swim in their pool, but it was pretty cold, so we just rocked down to the break-water and chilled in the sun. It was pretty hot, total chill. Chatting and Chilling, nothing better.
The hotel was ridiculously five star. It had 2 swimming pools outside. It was totally massive. It had it's own "yacht center", a harbour for docking these millionaires yachts. The webpage for the hotel is here. We decided to have a look inside, so we just rocked into their Spa center.
Here, Kit decided to totally blag our way in.
"Are we allowed to use the spa?"
"As members you would have to pay."
"And if we are staying in a room here?"
"Ah, then you may use everything free"
"So can we just go through?"
The woman there then showed us around the whole spa, and left us to change. We fell about in hysterics and got into swimming costumes. She came back five minutes later, asking for our names and room numbers. I was thinking we should bail, but Kit was sure that they hadn't got a computer system, so we made up two names and a room number and walked up to the desk. All they had was a piece of paper, so we thought we were in the clear. I was "Oliver Stoner", and Kit was "Tom Robertson", of room 108. We picked up our towels, and headed straight to the Jacuzzi. We chilled there for ages, giggling, but slightly paranoid at everyone that came in. The woman did come back in, and asked us to confirm our Room Number. She asked me if we were in room 108,. I said we were, and she looked confused. I was thinking we were foiled. We went up and asked if there was a problem. They said "there is no room 108 in this hotel". Now I was thinking we were definitely foiled. But we blagged our way through again. Kit gave some bullshit about "1st night, probs forgot it", and they said it was no problem. We assured them we would check what it was later and come back with the proper number for their records, then went back to the Jacuzzi.
Our general philosophy was that we were in a place where total wankers come to relax, so the more we acted like wankers, the less likely we would be to be detected. So we bossed the staff around a bit: asked them to turn the heat up, and then to turn the Sauna on. But actually the woman was giving us a weird smile throughout the whole thing: I think she knew what was going on, she was just playing along for the hell of it.
After the Sauna, we got into the first proper power shower I had seen in weeks, and then dried off, walked out (past a Mercedes SL 55 AMG), and then back from 5* to 1* hotel. We had basically spent all day at the spa, and night was beginning to settle in.
That night we didn't do that much, just went to a cheap Italian restaurant. I had two pizzas, and Kit had a Soup, Spaghetti, and two puddings. That meal actually came to quite a lot-like 15 quid, so we were spoiling ourselves pretty bad in Lattakia. Luxury living.