"Tickets, tickets please!"

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of Syria  ,
Sunday, January 3, 2010

Adventures in Syrian Transport Part 3:

Decided to get out of the city and do something today!  Meeting up with our friends from Cappadocia was a great surprise.  Only problem with traveling with other people, is that it involves a lot of discussing of what to do, and waiting for one another. 

As time ticked by, it got alter and later for catching the 10am bus.  With barely any time left, we tried to catch a taxi.  These are not difficult to hail as they are everywhere, but finding on for the right price is more of a challenge.  A game of back and forth writing Arabic numbers starts the bartering.  Then it's going back and forth between cabs because 'I-know-you-know-I'm-a-tourist, but i still don't want to get ripped' until you find one for the right price. 

Driving along the highway, we had border-run taxi's speeding up alongside the cab shouting 'Jordan' or 'Lebanon' knowing that most travelers going to this station are heading out of Syria.  Gotta give it to these guys, they actively seek out their business.  If only that kind of entrepreneurial spirit were everywhere!

Upon arrival at the station it was more offers for rides over the border.  Our travel companion decided to have a little fun with one of the cabbies.  What asked where he was going, he answered 'Australia'.  You could see the inner workings going on as he processed the possibility of a good fare.  'Australia?'  'Yes, Sydney!'  Again he thought...His answer of:  'OK, I take you' was cut short by his buddy slapping him on the shoulder with a reality check 'AUSTRALIA!!!'

Finding our bus, everything was much more formal than I had previously experienced.  I even had to show passports before paying.  And as much as we tried to bargain down the price, it was fixed. 

Upon arrival in Bosra, we asked about when to pick up a return bus to Damascus.  This turned into a whole production of a guy calling the bus company to reserve our seats, and us sitting around and waiting for someone else to come by to deliver the tickets.  Why bother?  Reserved tickets?  This MUST be some sort of scam.  With only 2 hours to visit Bosra, we didn't want to wast this kind of time!  Finally after about 15 - 20 minutes we had tickets in hand for the same price as before. 

Bosra is an old Roman city with lots of ruins.  The most notable is a huge amphitheater.  Yes, I know, another amphitheater, but this one is really impressive with the full surrounding building in tact.  It was great fun to wander around in the dark with huge vaulted ceilings and small stairways and holes to explore.  Other ruins were sprinkled throughout town, but unfortunately there was not enough time to explore them as we were rushing to get to the bus so we could return to Damascus an finalize our bicycles. 

When the bus finally came, it was very formalized again.  Assigned seating that people actually followed...I felt like I was in North America!  So unlike anything we've seen in Syria.  Other travelers boarded without tickets as would be expected.  However, after a few stops and the bus filled with VIP seats, they were forced to sit in the isle! 

Perhaps it wasn't so bad waiting around a few extra minutes for a ticket...
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