Train Travel in Syria
Trains are cheap in Syria.
I love traveling by train, it is by far my favorite mode of public transport. There are few things in travel more exciting than jumping onto a clunky old ancient train and riding deep into the interior of a foreign land.
Train travel in most parts of Europe is too cost restrictive to take advantage of, but in the Middle East and Asia trains are by far the cheapest way of moving yourself from one place to another.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Damascus, Syria- April 19, 2009
Travelogue —Travel Photos –Travel Guide
Click on map to view route of travel.
I bought a train ticket for a buck yesterday. Syrian trains are by far the cheapest that I have ever come upon. 50 Syrian pounds, or a touch over 1 USD, was enough for me to get from Aleppo to Latakia, four hours away.
The ride was good, the scenery beautiful, though opaqued by storm clouds and falling rain, and the train was old. I love few things more than riding on an old train.
Aleppo train station.
Buying a ticket is a very orderly affair: everyone stands in line, waits their turn, buys their ticket, and then moves on. It is as it should be, though rarely is.
Train station in Aleppo, Syria.
Syrian train ticket. I have no idea what any of this says.
Train in Syria.
Train in Syria.
Old Syrian train.
Inside a second class coach of a Syrian train. The fare from Aleppo to Latakia only cost 50 pounds, or 1 USD.
But we almost missed our train for a measly hamburger.
Chaya and I departed from our couchsurfing hosts a little after 9 AM with the hopes of catching a 10 AM train to the coast. We walked to the station to find out that this train really left at 3:48 PM. We bought two tickets for two dollars and waited out the day in a nearby park.
For a change of scenery we returned to the station and waited for the rest of the day. An hour before the train was to leave I got the hankering that I we should get some food. Neither of us were particularly hungry, but food makes the traveling go a little easier, especially when you are traveling with a 5 month pregnant woman. I got the great idea of walking to a fast food stale a half kilometer away from the station and finding a bite to eat.
The fast food stale turned out to be pretty gross. The cook gave us samples of bad meat which we both promptly spit out of our mouths upon retreating to the sidewalk. We could not eat there, so I lead the way across the city to another fast food restaurant that serves good hamburgers for $1.20.
“Do we have enough time?” Chaya asked.
“Of course,” I answered in complete ignorance of what time it was and how long it would take to make the walk.
We arrived at the hamburger stale and made our order. We then checked the time: 28 minutes until the train departed. We were more than 28 minutes away from the station.
We waited ten minutes for our burgers to be cooked as the guy at the cash register practiced his English with me. I would have taught him the phrase “hurry up,” but knew better than to try teach such a foreign idea in the Near East.
We waited and got our burgers with 18 minutes left to make a half hour walk.
Chaya: “Do you want to take a taxi?”
Wade: “No, it will be more fun to run.”
“Yeah, trains never leave on time anyway.”
I don’t know where I acquired such an odd idea of fun, but I put my rucksack on my back and slung Chaya’s over one shoulder while Chaya manned the burgers, and we ran to the train station.
We looked like fools in the streets: people don’t run in Syria, they take taxis. It would have cost sixty cents to flag down a taxi and ride, but I have been programed to avoid those four wheel yellow devils.
We arrived at the train station dripping sweat as we fought through the crowds to get to the platform. In our haste we skipped over and ran passed the X-ray security search, the boy soldiers running the machine looked at us dejectedly. I showed my ticket to the station manager – I could not read any of it myself – and he told me that my train was leaving right now. I looked out the window and this was true: the train was rolling away.
We ran through the doors and onto the platform. Catching up with the moving train I spotted an open door. Yelling for Chaya to follow I grabbed the rail and jumped in, and five month pregnant Chaya followed. We presented our tickets to a shocked looking train conductor.
We made it.
Finding a seat and plopping our sweaty bodies down in them we began in on the hamburgers that made the simple act of getting on a train an adventure.
“Now, wasn’t that a more fun way?” I prompted Chaya as the train picked up speed in the Aleppo suburbs.
“No, that was the Wade way.”
I take my adventure when I can get it, even if I need to manufacture it myself.
It tuns out that Syrian trains leave on time.
Train Travel in Syria