St. George’s was the original capital of Bermuda and is one of the few communities on the island that cater to residents and tourists interested in learning more about the island’s history. Stories about Bermuda’s early years can be heard around lunch tables, during short chats in the souvenir shops and most famously, in a reenactment of 18th Century Trial by the St, Georges Town Crier in King’s Square. To explore more about the latter years of the culture requires several bus rides across the island, where on any given day you will discover chunks of its culture hidden behind the beautiful pastels homes and picturesque walking trails. Since I’m still at the start of my cultural quest, I learned the best place to start should be on the North side of the island. I thought to snap some pictures of St. Georges during a time and day when the community seemed to be at peace.
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. 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. 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. I visited the Corniche and the famous natural off shore, the Pigeon Rock arches. I captured a nice picture under the country’s symbol, the Cedar Tree. 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. As 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. 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. I had such a great experience wine tasting at the Ksara Winery, that I decided to bring a few treats back with me! 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. 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. 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. I can now add this unit to my Middle Eastern travels, while I look forward to many happy returns.