Hama Travel Blog› entry 7 of 31 › view all entries
So, we sadly moved on from Lebanon to Syria three days ago using a shared taxi. The vehicle was a 1950's Mercedes Benz, packed with six of us (including driver). All went smoothly at the Syrian check-point with no payment being requested for the visa fee. To clarify ... we obtained our visa in Sydney where no payment was collected, but our passports were noted in red ink, in Arabic, that a fee needs to be collected at the border. The fee should have been AUD80 or USD60 (not equivalent) ... it was only much later that we knew what the red inked inscription meant!
We were very impressed by the performance of the old Mercedes. Driver took it to 160 km/h, and boasted that he had taken it off the clock before! We were a bit nervous, being seated in front with no seat belts. And the heater was stuck on full the whole journey. Syria is a good place for car-spotting if you like old American classics. We went out in a 1950's Pontiac Eight which performed beautifully, but later learnt that it had been fitted with a 2 litre Nissan.
We based ourselves in a town called Hama for three nights - a bit longer than expected as the receptionist at our hotel was very good at organising day trips for us. The cost of the organised trips is about three times more than doing it ourselves, but it is only about NZD45 for two full days of sightseeing.
Hama is also home to huge water-wheels called "norias" which are used for irrigation. They sit over the river at various points of the town and make a groaning sound as they turn, as there are no bearings between the moving wooden parts.