“Give me 3 days and I will give you Lebanon!

I decided to take a trip to Lebanon and experience the beautiful City of Beirut.  Beirut is the most populated city in the country, with an estimated population of 1.5 million.   As my plane flew above the snow capped mountains, I got excited about the adventure that had await me.  So eager perhaps, I couldn’t resist taking photos from up above.  166 172 164 I’ve learned many great things about this country from my Lebanese colleagues and friends who had vacationed here over the past year.  Luckily to have a weekend free, I wasted no time packing away my camera, notebook , a bag and I set off to explore.  My first stop was the astounding Beirut National Museum. 046 045 041 035 025  I was able to view over 1300 artifacts including ancient Phoenician objects.  Who are the Phoenicians?  A group of semantic people living on the Mediterranean coast in modern Lebanon.  They were excellent sailors who traded all over the Mediterranean, including to Greece.  The Phoenicians are also the inventors of the alphabet, which was knowledge they passed on to the rest of the world.032  I visited the Corniche and the famous natural off shore, the Pigeon Rock arches.057 056 059 051 I captured a nice picture under the country’s symbol, the Cedar Tree.148  Next, I visited downtown Beirut, where I was very impressed by the restoration of old french colonial office buildings, tailored brick roads and one of the largest Rolex watches I’ve ever seen.  It was interesting to stand in the middle of the road and watch the children play and students hang out in the cafes.  There were families going off to pray at the mosques and shoppers who crowded the boutiques to find the best deals.   117 114 108 100 097 098 087 086 083As I explored more of Beirut, I learned that bits and pieces of the country’s history still lay beneath the restored and modernize structures.  Although Lebanon is a Muslim country, it was heavily colonized by the French, so the locals spoke both Arabic and French, how impressive!  Street signs, posters and menus were translated in both languages as well.  My first night in Lebanon concluded with a delightful stroll through the Hamra area, not far from my hotel.488  This area is popular amongst tourists for it’s many choices of restaurants, hotels and bars.  I decided to let my ears follow the music and found Beirut’s nightlife to be quite pleasant.  The next day, I toured the archaeological site, Anjar, a town located in the Bekaa Valley.  This historical site was filled with ruins of the Umayyed palace and is recognized as a World Heritage Site. 210 206  I had such a great experience wine tasting at the Ksara Winery, that I decided to bring a few treats back with me! 260 Then on to Baalbeck, the “Sun City” of the ancient world, where I stood among the Romans, Greeks and Phoenicians ruins in the Middle East. 294 287 290 286 292 On my final voyage, I toured Jeita Grotto, a place so delicate in its true natural design, that tourists where not allow to take pictures inside.  Afterwards, I ascended 700 meters by cable car to Harissa, to explore “The Lady of Lebanon” statue.  While up top, I was able to capture a fantastic shot of the Mediterranean coastline. 362 360 365 As I board my bus to head back to the airport, I slowly reminisce on some of the best  food ever prepared and cool places I visited as  my Lebanese voyage come to an end. 402 I can now add this unit to my Middle Eastern travels, while I look forward to many happy returns.

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