A Tour of Lebanon
Trip Start Aug 12, 2009
81Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Al Shaaba Hotel
First port of call was lovely Byblos, made chic in the sixties by Marlon Brando and co. Today it's a laid-back little harbour village just an hour from Beirut, but feels worlds away and so peaceful. It also houses some of the most amazing fossils we've ever seen, essentially million year old fish, many of which are now extinct.
Following a theme on the letter B, our next B was Baalbek, an amazing site with the tallest Roman columns in the world. Bizarrely we met a Lebanese guy who had lived around the corner from Paddington Station in London for 17 years. Baalbek is a Hezbollah stronghold and Tania felt it would be a great idea for Steve to purchase a Hezbollah tee-shirt, as if he didn't have enough problems merely surviving the drivers...
Next B was Beiteddine, a 19th Century palace with the most fabulous collection of recovered mosaics, rescued from all over Lebanon and hidden during the civil war.
Breaking with tradition, our final tour was of Tyre in the far south, about as close as you can get to the Israeli border. This is a very different side to Lebanon from Beirut, it swarms with UN teams, some of which have the task of trying to clear over two million cluster bombs/mines from the area. Tyre was once a popular beach/harbour town for holidays and retains so much charm that we hope it becomes so again.
All in all we loved Lebanon, a country that spent too much of our early lives in the news for all the wrong reasons. Today it is a fast paced rapidly evolving country, optimistic that tourists and investment will flow more and more - fingers crossed or as they say in these parts, inshallah.