We woke up early and we prepared for departure. In my mind was the entrance in Syria…what we were going to meet. Before living Gaziantep we tried baklava from the store next door. Our friend, Oytun Pinar, suggested us to try it, and he was right. It was delicious. We left for Kilis, 70km away, at the Turkish – Syria boarders. That road it is not so famous, so the traffic was low. At the Turkish boarder we were a bit late.
Full of joy, curiosity and anxiety, we passed the neutral zone going to Syria. The soldiers asked us from where we are… “Yunan” (Greeks), we told him. “Welcome to Syria!” they told us.
We went to the custom – house. We could see the picture of the king, his father and the flag. The signs were written in Arabic….we couldn’t understand anything. An officer took us inside. They helped us to do the following:
-To take an insurance for the bikes, cause the green card has no issue in Syria (40$/bike). It is for a month and you DON’T have to buy another if you go in and out from the country within the month.
-Check and stamp the passports and visas that we took in Greece 25 euro/person. We filled a paper with information’s such as Names and information about the bikes, why we were visiting the country, the hotels that we were going to use, etc. We had to curry this paper until the exit from the country.
At the end we met Alexis (“Yasser” was his real name) a Syrian that was living and working in Greece and he was going home with his family for the summer holydays. When we asked him for some hotels he told us that as soon as we arrive we can go and meet his brother and he could help us. He told us that Aleppo has very heavy traffic and it would be difficult to move around.
We left for Aleppo, 60km. The first picture from the roads it was not good at all. The condition of the road and the driving of the people were both bad. Just before Aleppo we saw the first car-crush a Jeep and a mini bus and all these outside of the town. Inside the things were worse. The police was not doing anything.
Following Alexis directions we reached his father’s store. When we parked outside the store, too many people came looking at us. We were the site of the day. Alexis invited us home to rest and have some coffee. To tell you the truth I was not feeling so good about it but Alexis didn’t gave us any other choice.
We felt very nice at the house with his family! We met the twins, the parents. They were all very kind and they accepted us with joy. We ate all together. The best dinner until that time!
It was already afternoon so we decided to find our hotel. Alexis wanted s to stay at his house but the space was too small for all of us. We said that we will come back for a cup of tea.
The hotel was at the old town, near the castle. Unfortunately for us works were taking place and it was difficult to go to it. We tried many times but without results. Finally Ploumisti gave the solution. She found a passage to the hotel, “ Hotel Dar Halabia” (39 euro/double room). It was in the old market – which was closed, for our good luck – inside a little street. It was difficult to go inside with the bikes!
The hotel was very beautiful. We left our things and we went back at Alexis place using a taxi. Thanks God it was Juan with us. Otherwise I’m not sure if we could make it.
At the house the family was gathered. We were trying to communicate with the help of Alexis. Very friendly people all of them. They were asking about our trip and Greece and we were asking about Syria, their customs, their habits. We learned many things, more than we knew through the books.
Late at night Juan took us back at the hotel. Everything was like a dream. The first day at Syria was very impressing for many reasons. The experience that the trip was offering was unique...