Tuesday, May 31, 2011


May 25-28

Flying toward Beirut we passed over some incredible sand or rock covered mountains. It looks like snow, but when we were closer it was pretty clear that it wasn't. Our plane landed around 9am and we took a taxi to our new friend Fabio's place in the northwest corner of the city.

One of the most enjoyable things about Beirut is that it is very walkable. It is located on a piece of land that sticks out into the Mediterranean Sea, so it has both a north and a west coast. The Corniche runs along that coast and is filled with joggers, fishermen, and people just enjoying the sunshine. (This also made Beirut very easy to navigate. If you think you are lost, just head for the sea!) On day one, Francisco and I walked about 10 miles, exploring corners and getting lost.

One of the first landmarks that we attempted to find was a local park that was labeled on our maps. Nearby, we came across this abandoned building. The architecture of Beirut is very unique. The French influence is clear and mosques are mixed with churches. Springtime was in full swing, with flowering trees and plants everywhere!

We stopped inside a few of the churches that we passed by. They had an incredible feel to them - beautiful art and altars and windows. One of my favorite was two stained glass windows depicting Jesus and Mary. I didn't see the images at first, but once I picked them out they become obvious.

In the middle of Beirut, the Ruins of Roman baths have been unearthed. This must have been amazing when it was in full swing. These were right next to an Ottoman era government office building. I would have loved to take some pictures, but a security guard put his wrists together and said "tch" when we asked if it was okay. It's the same in Jordan - no pictures of government buildings, bridges, dams, etc., etc.

On our second day (after some Dunkin' Donuts!), we took a bus 45 minutes to Byblos, or Jbeil. Byblos is famous for its old city and Roman ruins, so when we stepped off the bus into a busy downtown we thought we might be in the wrong place. A few turns toward the water though led us to a stone street with shopkeepers bored from the lack of tourists.

And finally, we made it to the ruins.

Roman ruins and an Ottoman house, overlooking the Mediterranean.

After touring the ruins, we headed down to the beach so Francisco could have a swim.

Day 3 - Jeita Grotto

Day 4 - Beirut