50km Aleppo to Taftanaz

The whole group in TaftanazIf you ever wondered what it’s like to be a celebrity, just try cycling in Syria. It was a surprise for us to discover the days of being able to stop a whole street in its tracks just for looking different are far from over. Our first chaos-causing moment was at Aleppo’s market. We pulled up in front of a few fruit stands and immediately a crowd gathered around the bikes. As Friedel was off buying bananas, Andrew entertained thirty local men. Where had we come from? How many kilometers? How did we cross the oceans since bicycles don’t fly? Oh dear. Not that one again. We’ve grown a bit sick of the ocean question lately and were dismayed to discover we were going to have to face it in Syria as well. After everyone had a chance to ring our bells and feel our tyres we started to leave but not before one man pushed his way to the front of the group and extended his hand. “Thank you for coming to visit my country,” he said.

Everywhere we’ve been so far we have been impressed by the kindness of local people but, in Syria especially, hospitality and a sense of duty towards the foreigner seems to be taken to whole new levels.

We pushed out onto the streets of Aleppo, getting our pictures taken at more than a few traffic lights as car passengers leaned out and snapped photos of us with their mobile phones. After navigating several roundabouts we were finally on our way towards the city of Idlib, from where we planned to turn south towards Apamea, a famous archaeological site, and Hama, known for its water wheels.

All along the way cars honked, truck drivers waved and children ran alongside us as we pedalled. It was with some relief that we turned onto a quieter road near midday and cycled in relative peace through farming fields. A bridge seemed the perfect place for lunch so we propped our bikes up against the railings and stopped to prepare a little salad but before we could eat it a car pulled up and two men got out.Andrew, Mohammed, Ammar and Fatima's son

Both turned out to be locals for a nearby village, one the coach of Aleppo’s football team. As we found out later, they saw us by the side of the road and stopped to invite us home because they were curious but also because they felt it was their duty to make sure we had a good impression of their country.

We chatted a little by the bridge, then they gave us directions to their home and after lunch we set off for the village of Taftanaz. It was less than 15km from the bridge to our destination but in that distance we were invited for tea at least five times and to stay at another man’s house once. We may need a “reserved” sign on the back of our bicycles for Syria!

As we arrived in Taftanaz, Mohammed was waiting to lead us to his home and what a welcoming place it was with his wife, five daughters and one son. Ammar, a lawyer as well as football coach, was also there and with the help of an interpreter we chatted long into the night, feasting on so much wonderful food. Chicken and potatoes, hummous, tabbouli, bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, stuffed zucchini and aubergines – not to mention several rounds of coffee and tea, chocolates, fruit and nuts.

Nothing was too much for this family, who also insisted on washing our clothes and took us round to the neighbours for coffee there as well.

The usual questions ensued, ones we have become used to in Arabic countries. Do you have children? Why not? Are there fertility problems? Not having a family by choice is inconceivable in places like this, where children represent hope for the future as well as security for the parents in their old age. We talked as well about religion, life in Canada and their hopes to come and visit one day. A dream we would love to see realised, but we wonder if the chances of Syrians getting a visa to visit Canada aren’t slim at best. We feel lucky with our widely-accepted passports and ability to earn enough money to see the world. This dream of travel is shared by many but accessible to few.

Late in the night, after far too much wonderful food and conversation, we laid down to sleep. But our adventure in Taftanaz was not yet over.

The next morning we set off to go and, after taking several dozen photos with all the family, we got on our bikes to continue our journey towards Idlib. Mohammed and Ammar waved us off at the crossroads and we were on our way. Our departure was short-lived, however, as just one kilometer down the road Friedel’s back rim cracked. The wheel now had a large bulge and was unstable. We could not carry on.

Our only real choice was to turn around and head back to our family. There they kindly kept most of our things while we returned to Aleppo by bus with the wheel to have it rebuilt by the bike mechanic there we knew well by now.

Two days later – a longer stay in Aleppo than we’d planned since Friedel became quite sick on the first night – we returned to Taftanaz to continue our journey.  We repeated the goodbye ritual with food and drinks and then packed up our bikes to go. Just as we were ready to set off, school children were set free for lunch and we once again had the feeling of being famous as kids in their hundreds cheered in the streets and ran behind us as we left Taftanaz. It might be a small village, missed by most passers-by, but it is one we will never forget.


  1. Ahmed Ez
    21st October 2008 at 10:41 pm #

    Dear Sir,
    Thank you so much for this words about my town Taftanaz. This is an engineer from Taftanaz (PhD candidte) and I am writing this from Osaka, Japan. I hope you visit Taftanaz again and meet me!


  2. Best pris på Manikyr i Oslo
    2nd November 2022 at 2:18 pm #

    Enjoyed every bit of your article. Fantastic.

  3. toto 4d
    11th November 2022 at 7:16 pm #

    Hey, thanks for the blog.Much thanks again. Great.

  4. hop over to this site
    16th November 2022 at 11:33 pm #

    Im obliged for the blog. Fantastic.

  5. solar panel installer london
    21st November 2022 at 4:40 pm #

    Wow, great blog.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

  6. tivi casper
    4th December 2022 at 7:27 pm #

    apartments for rent bronx ny the forum apartments georgetown apartments dc

  7. esports news
    5th December 2022 at 12:10 am #

    п»їivermectin pills ivermectin for sale – ivermectin otc

  8. fresh carnations in bulk
    28th December 2022 at 11:40 am #

    pretty practical stuff, overall I feel this is worth a bookmark, thanks

  9. Rosalie Black
    4th January 2023 at 7:17 pm #

    ivermectin and permethrin ivermectin scabies success rate

  10. Dumpster Rental St. Louis
    13th January 2023 at 2:28 pm #

    You have actually covered this subject professionally.

  11. Gia mang chong tham hpde
    5th April 2023 at 3:37 pm #

    Igjerr – annotated bibliography mla maker Pobtit vzrqne

  12. faceless cc socks
    15th April 2023 at 7:06 pm #

    essay readermla format example essaydefinition essay examples

  13. new games
    18th April 2023 at 9:03 am #

    I read this paragraph fully concerning the resemblance of hottest and preceding technologies, it’s amazing article.

  14. https://bobbleheadsme.com
    20th April 2023 at 11:21 am #

    Thanks again for the blog.Much thanks again. Awesome.

  15. poker gamblers
    20th April 2023 at 8:07 pm #

    Nicely put. Thank you.how to make yourself write an essay college essay hook writer essay

  16. casinos
    21st April 2023 at 3:01 pm #

    Your manner of addressin this topic is both fantastic as well as inspiring.

  17. casinos in Australia
    22nd April 2023 at 1:44 pm #

    Really appreciate you sharing this blog post. Cool.

  18. moving company
    28th April 2023 at 10:31 am #

    I think this is a real great blog. Much obliged.

  19. Recommended and endorsed by multiple celebrities

  20. vsol onu
    7th May 2023 at 10:30 pm #

    Thanks for the article. Cool.

  21. automotive connectors
    8th May 2023 at 9:20 pm #

    Thanks-a-mundo for the blog. Really Cool.

  22. casino
    13th May 2023 at 9:45 am #

    Good answers in return of this issue with solid arguments and explaining all regardingthat.

  23. Leonora Cooper
    14th May 2023 at 9:58 am #

    Thank you, I’ve just been looking for info about this subject for a long time and yours is the best I have came upon so far. But, what concerning the conclusion? Are you certain about the source?

  24. Reformas educativas madrid
    16th May 2023 at 11:19 pm #

    However, if you like to mod many incredible amounts of money,

  25. Æthelburg Lee
    28th May 2023 at 8:30 pm #

    Regards for helping out, wonderful information. Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained. by William Blake.

  26. ??????????????
    1st June 2023 at 5:24 pm #

    Tumblr article I saw a writer writing about this on Tumblr and it linked to

Leave a comment