a funky microbus
Just under an hour north of Damascus, ro else 50 kilometres. The best way to get there by public transportation is my microbus: you can take one from the Abasseen Garage: just ask around and they'll point you to the right one: a nice funky colourful little bus playing loud arab pop (which is, btw, great music). The fare until Maalula is 25 syrian pounds. One tip: don't get off at the village: stay on the bus and it'll drive you directly up to santa tecla monastery. You can also catch the bus back from there, or from the village centre, where the raod starts climbing up
From Seidnayya to Maalula
I had read in my guide book that buses between Seidnayya and Maalula are not very freequent and was prepared to wait for a long time (maybe two hours). On my way down from the monastery to the road I asked a woman if that was the road for buses to Maalula. She said I should look for the sign saying Maalula (all signs are of course in Arabic). After waiting only a minute a microbus came, I waved and asked for Maalula. The driver said yes and made a sign I should enter the bus. After the last passenger had left the bus he slowed down and said "Maalula no servise. Maalula extra". I became very angry and considered to ask him to take me back to Seidnaya, but finally agreed that he took me to Maalula for 300 SP. After beeing angry I just felt sad and tricked and that the day was ruined. I think the driver got a bit worried because he called someone who spoke English that he wanted to explain for me that it was extra to go to Seidnayya. I told her the problem was that the driver didn't tell me from the beginning but only after everybody else had left the bus, and that was wrong. I hope she told him that!
I think it took about half an hour to Maalula, or more.
Going back from Maalula to Damascus I waited at a restaurant in the outskirts of Maalula. I stopped a microbus passing and it was 25 SP to Damascus and it took about an hour. Back in Damascus I had no idea at what bus station the bus stopped. I did not recognise it at Karajat Maalula from the morning. I walked to a microbus stop for buses around Damascus and a man told me we were at Abbasseen Garage. I said I wanted to go to Bab Touma. He was very kind and went with me on the bus, and paid (5SP), to show me the right way, even if he was going somewhere else. That made me very happy!
Getting to Maaloula
There are tourist buses that leave regularly to Maaloula which I did not take. My mode of transportation around Syria was in a rental car. My travel companions and I took the Damascus-Homs motorway north of the city and drove for about 45 minutes before reaching the turn. However, the easiest way to get to Maaloula for the day is to hire a car with a driver who knows the roads.
- Road Trip
Service shared van from Dasmascus to Ma'loula
I took a taxi from Damascus to the service van depot where the service van to Ma'alula is. I just told the taxi driver to take me to service or bus station going to Ma'loula.
It's not really easy as I've asked 2 people who led me to the wrong way. I've asked the store at the bottom of the stairs of the pedestrian bridge going to old city. The place where they sell various pets, just beside the one selling tortoise and pigeons. And the kind guy hailed a taxi for me and talked to the driver to drop me at ___ (I forgot the name of the bus depot or I did not hear it clearly) - who happened to be really nice too, and returned the sunglasses I've accidentally dropped inside his taxi after half an hour of dropping me and came back to the van station looking for me to return my sunglasses.
The taxi dropped me exactly in front of the yellow-coloured van which he also asked people around, I waited there until it was full before we drove off for an hour to the enchanting town of Ma'loula.
The fare was only SYP 40.
Coming back from Ma'loula to Damascus, there's a service van too waiting a little below down the St. Takla convent, not in front but down the roundabout of the town where the van going to Ma'loula dropped me off. But there was a van in front of the convent that took us down the roundabout or main road for free. I just went with a group of local girls probably sisters and they were just too nice to direct me.
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel