Jay

Day 12 – Baalbek

Posted on April 3, 2018

How do you take a photo?

Today was one of our biggest days yet. We left our hotel bright and early around 7:30am, and met up with some of our Sydney family who are also visiting at the moment. We packed ourselves into a big van, and drove out of Beirut, towards our cousin Fadi’s house, who was going to be taking us around for the day.

We drove away from the city, through the scenic fields and mountains once more, before arriving at the house which he had built entirely himself, from the ground up over the past few years.

We got to meet his family and see his house, located in what seems like open farmland, with the mountains surrounding on all sides, where just over the mountain top is the Syrian border.

They bought a whole lot of munoosh, and laid out a range of cheeses, labneh, olives etc. for our breakfast – all locally sourced. We ate, and talked, and relaxed, before piling up in two cars and driving to our main destination for the day, Baalbek.

First in Baalbek, we were taken to The Sayyida Khawla Shrine, where locals come to pray and pay their respects. It is a beautifully built shrine and has a quiet peace to it. Apparently it is where the prophet’s granddaughter died so they built this shrine here, around her grave and tree she was buried under.

From there, we walked the short distance to the Baalbek Roman Ruins. They are some of the best preserved Roman ruins in Lebanon, including a huge temple at its center.

We had a tour guide of sorts, showing us around and explaining the history of various things, but since I couldn’t understand what he was saying, I wandered off to explore myself and take photos.

Fadi’s son came with me and became my new bestie. I mostly followed him around as he climbed over the ruins and rocks, and took a few photos when I could.

After exploring the main area, we went down to the main temple to have a look there and take more photos. It’s pretty incredible how many of the ruins are preserved.

It was incredibly hot and sunny though, so we headed off to the final underground area which was a sort of museum with different artifacts and information.

By the time we left Baalbek, it was late afternoon, soon to be sunset. We drove further up the mountain, climbing up towards the peak for a while, before arriving at the cliff-side restaurant where we were going to eat dinner. The owner had built this himself too, and although there’s not much to see at the entrance (which is a pretty hidden door next to a petrol station), once you walk in to the main restaurant, it opens up and you have an amazing view looking down over Lebanon, with snowcapped mountains all around.

A big selection of mezze was soon brought out, followed by the usual meats. It was a great way to end the day, and what felt like, to end the trip. This would be the last we would see our Lebanon family on this trip, so we all enjoyed eating, talking and taking in the view as day turned to night.

When we had finally finished eating, and drinking various teas and such, the owner of the restaurant took us down to his collection/museum he had set up under the restaurant. He had built these tunnels and filled them with items he had either bought/collected, or made himself. There was a lot of stuff, from a lot of different periods of time, so he just gave us a quick walk-through.

At last, it came time to say goodbye and head our separate ways. It was sad to be leaving so soon, and my new bestie was very sweet as we left. After our extended goodbyes, we drove off back down the mountain, towards the glowing lights of the city far below. It was a pretty long drive, so we all tried to sleep until we made it to the hotel.

Once there, we said goodbye to the driver and his family, before turning in for the night. It was maybe 11pm or 12am at this point, so I just downloaded the photos from my camera and went straight to bed. Doing the sorting, processing and uploaded in the morning, hence the late post.

We have two more days in Lebanon before we leave, and it seems like we won’t be doing a whole lot, as we need today to recover from yesterday, and then tomorrow we need to be ready for our flights (oh god…).

Day 11 – Beirut

Posted on April 2, 2018

Hotel, sweet hotel.

An early start today, as we had to pack our things, clean up, get showered, dressed and ready by 8:00am. Oh and our electricity wasn’t working all morning, so that made things even more fun!

A scramble later, and we were picked up and driven to Beirut, to the hotel we’ll be staying in for the remainder of our trip. Oh and we picked up some kanafeh sandwiches on the way, which was unexpected, but pretty good. We only stopped to check in, drop off our bags and meet up with Zena, before heading back out for the day (Zade was sick and stayed back).

Our first destination was an old mosque located up the mountains a bit. There wasn’t a whole lot to see, but there was a nice man who showed us around and explained the various historical significance of each room.

Next up was Moussa Castle, which was built entirely by Moussa Abdel Karim Al Maamari and houses many of his creations, as well as historical items and weaponry from different periods.

From there, we went to lunch at an outdoor restaurant, surrounded by trees, a lake and a waterfall. There was live music and a set mezze/meat/fruit menu (no complaints here) which made for a nice atmosphere. Though when you’re eating under a tree, you have to be prepared to have random leaves and things fall onto your plates. But an otherwise great meal.

Everyone was pretty tired by this point (not to mention I had begun another sneeze attack), so we headed back to the hotel to get an early rest before our tour tomorrow. I took more photos than I thought though, so no early night for me!

Day 10 – Tripoli

Posted on April 1, 2018

I bid you all a very fond farewell.

Today was a pretty quiet day, as it was our last day in Tripoli, before we head back to Beirut (another 3 or 4 nights there before coming home). Zena and co. went ahead to Beirut a day earlier to meet up with some other family there, while the parentals went out in the morning for breakfast and to do so some shopping. This left me some time at home to catch up on my photos/blog, as well as some other internetings.

In the afternoon, we met up and headed out to meet some family for dinner, at the Falafel House. We had falafel wraps (shocker) which were probably the best I’ve had yet. After dinner, we walked a bit to surprise my great aunt at her shop.

We sat down and had some juice, as everyone chatted away. I didn’t understand much, but it was nice to have a bit of time with everyone before we leave Tripoli tomorrow.

It was one of those no-photo days unfortunately (just an old photo from the street), but we have two days of tours upcoming, so there will likely be a lot more to come.

Day 9 – Tripoli

Posted on March 31, 2018

Your team are noobs.

A late start for us today, while the others were out doing god knows what. They did order some lunch for us though (wraps) which were delivered and consumed with great delight in the afternoon.

Then we got ready to go to another relative’s house for dessert and a catch-up. Another lavish home with a great view of Tripoli, with both the ocean and the mountains visible. I saw my first proper sunset here (usually it’s obstructed, or we’re busy doing something else).

After many sweets, cake and fruit, we said goodbye and drove a short distance to another relative’s house for dinner, followed by even more dessert. We finally met some cousins who were our age though and spoke English well, so we could actually hang out and have conversations (and a sneaky OW game). What a strange feeling.

After our meal, they took us youngens out to a swanky underground bar, which had live music (English songs tonight!) and we had even more food and drinks.

It was nice to go out at night and do something different for a change. This post is late because we got back late and I was too tired. It won’t happen again (haha…ha).

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