mountains

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┬áThe 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 7 – Lebanon Tour

Posted on March 29, 2018

Shrek! I’m lookin down!

A big day today. Too many photos, hence the late post. Let’s get into it.

We began our day with some munoosh and orange juice (as usual), and ate as we drove up into the mountains. It was a long, but scenic drive up the narrow winding roads built into the sides of the mountains.

After a couple of hours, we made it high enough to see snow! Although Lebanon is at the end of its snow season, so there wasn’t much around. But it did mean that it was very quiet up there. And I can say with no metaphor or hyperbole, it was freezing.

Due to the temperature, no one was keen to stick around for too long, so we soon headed off to our next sight – an old forest.

Again, our time was limited as apparently our next destination was time-sensitive. Whatever it was, it didn’t end up happening anyway.

We ended up driving a long way around the mountains, and for a long while along a walking trail at a snails pace (it was very rocky). After a long time, and a few really close calls (narrow mountain path, cars passing two ways…) we had driven as far as we could, and would have to hike the remainder of the path up to the monastery.

We reached the top and spent a bit of time looking around, taking photos and just enjoying the atmosphere. One of the nuns greeted us too.

It was so quiet and peaceful up there, away from all the noise. And surprisingly good reception too. Seems like a pretty nice place to live.

We made our way back down, and drove back along the treacherous path, until we were back on the main mountain roads. We stopped briefly for some photos.

Then it was off to a late lunch/early dinner at a great restaurant overlooking the valley. Again, it was nearly empty as people don’t usually eat at this time, so we had an abundance of waiters around, but they were very accommodating and had some delicious food.

We had the usual hommous, tabouleh, potato, mixed grill, with some piping hot fluffy bread. Oh and I would say the best orange juice yet. I took some photos of the view afterwards.

From there, our driver took us around to a view other scenic roads and interesting sights, such as a house-plane.

It was well into the evening when we finally got back to Tripoli, but had little time to rest before meeting up family at a nearby cafe area for drinks. We were all pretty tired, but it was a nice way to end the night.

Day 5 – Glendalough

Posted on July 1, 2017

I climb higher and higher, I climb until the entire sun shines on my face.

Another road trip today! This one was a bit shorter though. We drove south to a small seaside village named Greystones, along the east coast of Ireland (about forty-five minutes from Dublin). We had breakfast there at La Creperie, a french cafe overlooking the water. I opted for the Banana and Chocolate crepe.

Once we had finished eating, we drove to our main destination, Glendalough, another forty minutes south. It is located in the giant Wicklow Mountains National Park. We were fortunate with the weather today, and actually had some sunlight and warmth!

When we arrived and parked the car, we began following the hike trail leading up the nearby mountain. There was a short detour to the Glendalough Monastic City, which has some old buildings, ruins and cemetery.

After looking around and taking a few photos, we continued the hike to the Upper Lakes, which was supposedly a 14km hike. The trail winded through beautiful forest and led us further and further up the mountain.

We had been walking for an hour or so when the others decided to head back down, so my sister and I continued on our own to try to reach the top or find a nice outlook of the area.

We managed to find a clearing in the trees after another half an hour or so and took a bunch of photos looking out over the lake. It is quite stunning from up there.

It was hard to tell how much further we had before reaching the top or the end of the trail, so we started heading back down, as we wanted to ensure we got back to Dublin with enough time to get everything organised for our departure tomorrow. We were also pretty hungry.

We met up with the others when we reached the bottom and had lunch at a nearby restaurant. I had a burger (always a reliable choice) and copious amounts of water. Then it was back to Dublin for some rest and final organisation. It’s always a bit sad to leave a country, and Ireland will be no exception, though it’ll be a nice change to have some warm weather for the rest of our trip. Probably too warm, but we shall see.

Tomorrow we fly to Bordeaux – probably a less event-filled blog, as we will be mostly travelling, and won’t arrive until the afternoon, but I will try to do something a bit interesting at least.

Until next time Ireland.