Thanks to the Islamic holiday Isra and Mi’raj we had a long weekend, so Haneefa and I decided to fly off to Beirut instead of hanging out on the couch Netflix binging. I’m so glad we did. Oh my goodness I didn’t expect it to be so beautiful, even though friends who have been have bragged about it.
Other than news of the civil war and current security warnings, I really didn’t know much about Lebanon — except that I have yet to meet a Lebanese I don’t like. Everyone we met was friendly and curious about us. It’s nice to have strangers greet you with “Welcome! Welcome very much.” Heck, we even got a few marriage proposals, and one man stopped traffic just so we could cross the street — can’t beat that.
While there is definitely a military presence, and it might be a little jarring at first, you eventually forget they’re there — and, quite frankly, I’d rather have too much protection than not enough. It’s a shame this country’s uglies take center stage because it’s an amazing place to visit and it deserves — needs — our tourism dollars. But, of course, until terrorism simmers the eff out it’s a vacation many will put on hold, and while I would totally go back, I can’t blame anyone for heeding security warnings.
This is the second country I’ve visited that borders Syria, and it saddens me even more to think what those people are going through. In this area there is so much beauty, history, ruins from the dawn of time, culture, layers of life, and to think of it being raped and dismembered by ignorance and hatred is an unimaginable miscarriage of humanity — not only to Syrians, but to all of us. This is where much of what we know as civilization was born. Visiting Lebanon — Beirut in particular — you see remnants of life long before now, life now, and the scars of violence. On the bright side, it seems brutality has not yet broken the people’s zest for life. I hope it is the same for Syrians, or that one day soon it will be.
But enough of my thoughts on something I know so little about. On to the best part of this post … the pictures. Oh how I wish they could do the trip justice, but they give you an idea of why the locals manage to stay so darned spirited.
Love this picture. That flag may be wet and tattered thanks to the ocean’s constant battering, but it’s still proud and it’s still snapping back.
Beirut’s corniche is 10 kilometers of a walker’s (or runner’s) paradise.
We pretty much just enjoyed the corniche and our hotel pool the first night.
I mean who wouldn’t enjoy that?! Lots of Roman influence here, and, well, it’s also close to Cyprus.
Second day we hired a driver who took us to Jeita Grotto, Our Lady of Lebanon and Byblos.
These pictures were taken off of the Internet since we couldn’t take our cameras inside. We rode a gondola to the upper cave to walk through its massive interior, and then we were treated to a boat ride in its lower cave.
My pics of Jeita Grotto’s exterior
It was pouring down rain when we got there, but when it was our turn to stroll through the little park area it was beautiful weather. It’s like the Gods wanted us to enjoy this.
Next up was a ride on the telepherique — thanks to Haneefa I can’t type this without humming it to the tune of super freak — up to the Lady of Lebanon. This is something that is not to be missed.
At the tippy top you get to meet the gracious Lady of Lebanon. Muslims and Christians alike visit here, and regardless of what you believe it’s a good place to remind you that there is still holiness in our world.
Before I move on to our next stop, let’s just take a moment to appreciate this view. Awesomeness, yes!
And last, but OMG not least, was our trip to Byblos, which is a thriving city next to the ruins of an ancient Phoenician city, which also holds gifts from many other civilizations. It’s named after the bible because bible means book of Papyrus, and this place just so happens to be directly linked to the Phoenician alphabet — pretty nifty stuff for someone who loves words to see.
And some random shots for you
Of course there’s so much more I could share, but this post is long enough. I’m so thankful I got visit this boisterous beauty, and I hope some of you will one day do the same.
Beirut in the distance as seen from the ruins of ancient Byblos. I kind of like that the present looks ghostly from the past’s perspective.
p.s. Selfie shots are thanks to Haneefa.