Baalbek beers and Beirut

Trip Start Aug 23, 1996
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Lebanon  ,
Friday, April 10, 1998

As we were not far from Lebanon, we were offered a quick trip there. We had chicken cacciatore rolls for breakfast, but no Heineken to wash them down. Into a mini bus a five in the morning and we were off for another fun day of border crossing, sight seeing, border crossing. First border crossing, into Lebanon, stuck for thirty minutes, and then we were off. The first stop was Baalbek. Here is the only Roman ceiling left in existence. They were also the most impressive Roman ruins I have ever seen. They were not the largest, but for the ruins to still be standing after numerous earthquakes, especially the pillars, which were around twenty metres high, were testament to the work that had been put into building this temple. They used to be covered in sand, and they dug them out. One hundred years ago, Willhelm, from the royal family of Germany visited this site and laid a plaque. Since this plaque was laid, more sand has been dug away, and this plaque now resides on the first floor. We left in amazement and walked to a restaurant where they put on a Lebanese buffet for us to enjoy. The amount of food was superb and the taste was exceptional. We were all given baklava and coffee to wash it down with. Now not everyone enjoys coffee that you can stand your spoon up in, but I had three and Huggy had two. We then jumped on the bus and we headed for Beirut. Both new and old. Along the way, the driver decided that the best way to send everyone to sleep would be to turn up the heating. Now after three Lebanese coffees, I was not sleeping. In fact Huggy and I were the only ones awake as we drove through some beautiful countryside interspersed in with many army controls. As much as the war had finished three years previous, Syria still had a big hand here as could be seen by the many billboards showing the President, his son and his dead son. As we drove down Mount Lebanon, we saw many huge houses, which belonged to the rich Arabs of the area. Before the war, you could ski in the morning and go swimming in the Med in the same day. The other reason they came here is because after Switzerland, Lebanon has the second most private banks in the world. We then arrived in old Beirut, and just like a swarm of badly dressed Japanese tourists with cameras hanging around their necks, we were forcing the driver to stop, when we saw our first bombed out buildings. After taking our holiday snaps, we then moved onto the next one, and then the next one, and then the next one. Eventually, we were tired of this so we moved to new Beirut and walked the strip. We had some lunch and as they were celebrating Ramadam, there was nothing open that we could buy that said Beirut, and then we spied it. Now normally I would not go into one of these ventures and buy a shirt, but for once, we went to the Hard Rock Café and bought a genuine shirt. Back on the street, after our Lebanese kebab, we washed it down with an ice cream that Lucy said it was the best one of her life. It was good, but Italy was looming and I didn't want to make comparisons just yet. Our last stop was the bottlo, that we had conveniently found. Before we left, Glenn gave us his usual statement that this was a dry country, and as we were leaving Damascus, we thought it would be best to stock up on beer. On the way back, we drank half of them and the border crossing seemed to go a lot quicker and smoother than usual. Once back at the campground, we took Glenn away from Jewls, and settled down to drinking the rest of them whilst playing cards. It was a great day, but I would like to go back in the future because Beirut is one happening place
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