Byblos, Harissa and Jeita Grotto
Trip Start Sep 03, 2007
104Trip End Apr 06, 2011
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I was on the hunt for a Lebanese sweet shop which we found on The Corniche at Hallab. The massive round trays of gooey nutty sweets were mesmerising. As they boxed up my order they offered small bites of the different types of baklava they make. I also brought a serve of Knifeyh, a pastry that has cheese in the middle and then dipped in Qatr (which is a sugary flavoured syrup that is served hot over the pastries).
Jeita Grotto was our first stop and wanting to beat the tourists we headed up the mountain in a cable car. Unfortunately (or fortunately) you are unable to take photos inside the caves. Pity as it is breakthaking....I think it is more to stop people using flash photography....(some people just ruin it for everyone). We wandered through the top floor cavern, with its dripping water and stalagmites and stalagtytes all lit up attractively. It's a very peaceful cavern (when there are not hoards of locals and tourists screaming and laughing!). The low cavern is seen from the clear cold water. A small boat takes you out into the middle of the cavern...some of the clusters were sparkly and shiny from years of dripping waters and the minerals in the stone....stunning!
Up to Jounieh and Harissa at the top of the mountain to visit a christian holy place...Our Lady of Lebanon, perched ontop of the hill overlooking Jounieh below. We climbed the winding stairs to the top for gorgeous views and some time reflecting.
However, the main point of interest for me today is Byblos (or Jbail as it is also known as). The ancient port (know a fishing harbour), Roman Site, Crusader Castle and a renovated souk makes this town a great day trip. Byblos has been inhabited as early as 7000 years ago, giving Damascus in Syria a run for its money. We lunched along the harbour at Bab el-Mina, and although not cheap, it was delicious. Eggplant salad, fish kibbeh, marinated octopus and calarmari were fresh and delicious. Definitely worth a day out to visit!
Our last night in Beirut was chilled out. We decided to get away from the Mezze and try something else they Lebanese are famous for...Kebabs....so Kebab-ji restaurant in Hamra it was...I had the mixed grill (kefta, chicken and a veal kebab) and it was the most flavourful, tenderest grill I have every had....There seemed to be more people out and about on a Saturday night.
Beirut is known for its late night restaurants and night clubs. They say that Beirut is the Paris of the Middle East, I don't know about that, but I do know that Beirut has a certain charm about it and party atmosphere and that all locals get on with their lives...I am sure after years of living through civil war, political unrest, riots and instability...the time has come to move on and rebuild.....(but who know when peace will ever come to this brillant and beautiful country).