I'm just a lover of traveling. I'm no longer traveling quite as often as I used to or would ideally like to, but I still get to do some globetrotting occasionally. I hope you enjoy bouncing around the globe with me. =)

Middle East » Lebanon » Jbeil July 15th 2012

It was a laughter filled, amazing last weekend here in Lebanon. As I believe I said in the last blog, our initial plans for Saturday, going to Baalbak, were canceled due to renewed fighting in the city. Instead we stuck around here and went on a picnic with a bunch of Joanna's friends to celebrate a couple birthdays. We met early to organize ourselves and get the goods (i.e. shop for food). Then, we piled into several cars and headed up the mountain just past Harissa. We found a nice spot (minus the trash left by previous picnicers) under a grove of trees and enjoyed the day. We spent the day grilling, eating, playing raquetball, etc. I even got to play backgammon. =) (It's probably my favorite game, but I hardly get to play it at ... read more
Some of us
Salsa dancing
Playing Backgammon

Middle East » Lebanon » Bcharre July 13th 2012

This morning, we got up fairly early as we were heading north to see the Cedars of Lebanon. We didn't go straight there, but saw different sights along the way. First was, Mar Antonios Kozhaya in the Zgharta district. It's a monestary in the northern mountians where the first printing press in the Middle East was invented. The press is in Syriac, an extinct language the preceded Arabic. Some of the litergy in the Maronite Church in Lebanon today is still said in Syriac. The press was invented in 1610. In the monestary, there is a museum in which the first press is showcased along with other artifacts. It was amazing to look at the stone tablet with the different Syriac letters carved on them used in the printing press. It was amazing to think that ... read more
Tools for the printing press
Joanna, Me and Joseph

Middle East » Lebanon » Batroun July 11th 2012

Yesterday (Wednesday) we went to Harissa to the "Our Lady of Lebanon". It's a large statue of the virgin Mary on top of a mountain. We walked up the foot of the statue and had a wonderful view. After that, Joanna, Micha and I rode on the "Telefrique", the cable down the mountain. When we got into the car to head down, Micha was freaking out. =) It was really cute. She did just fine. =) From there, we really had a good view of the surrounding area. =) When we got to the bottom, we turned around and headed right back up. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling very well. So, as soon as we got home, I headed straight for bed. Today, I was feeling much better (at least until the evening), which was very good ... read more
Our Lady of Lebanon
Joanna and Micha in the Telefrique
The Telefrique

Middle East » Lebanon » Jbeil July 11th 2012

I've been debating writing this blog, as it is not a typical blog. Neither is it really about traveling, although I guess in some ways its a unique experience about common struggles regardless of national borders. First, before I jump into this story, I must first explain to those of you who don't know me why this story has affected me so greatly. 2 and a half months ago I donated my kidney to a childhood friend. She was only about 21 when she was diagnosed with FSGS, a rare kidney disease. She was on dialysis for 4 years before she recieved my kidney at the age of 26. Fortunately, she's now doing wonderfully and I of course have healed up well enough to travel internationally. Her story thus far has a very very happy ending. ... read more

Middle East » Lebanon » Jbeil July 9th 2012

Wow, today was simply incredible!!! Joanna's cousin Samer took us site seeing today. This is going to be a long blog so sit down and get comfy. We saw a lot today and I have much to tell. =) We drove up into the area of the Keserwan Mountain, a popular place for skiing in the winter. As we drove higher and higher, the scorching heat of the coast gave way to a cooler breeze. Soon we left the oak trees behind and the more barren rocky mountains greeted us. Off in the distance snow was still to be seen in the highest peaks. The first stop along the way were the Faqra ruins. The ruins include The Big Temple, Big Tower, The Altar, The Shrine and Atargatis. The exact origins of the structures is somewhat ... read more
Samer and Me on top of the Big Tower
The Big Temple
Joanna and Me inside the Big Temple

Middle East » Lebanon » Batroun July 8th 2012

Today we went to the village Joanna is from, Derya. It's north of Jbeil, not all that far from Batroun. It was soooo peaceful. Quite a change from the hustle and bustle of jbeil. The Tannous home there is small and quaint. It dates back to before WWI. Exactly when it was built is unknown. Joanna's dad inherited the home from his dad, who inherited it from his, but further than that is unknown. It's made of stone (as are all the homes here). The kitchen is detached. To enter the house, you walk up onto the patio and then enter into the living room. Continuing through the living room, you enter into the the single bedroom. Through the bedroom is the bathroom. As Odette was finishing up the preparations for lunch, Joseph proudly showed me ... read more
The living room
In the Garden with Joanna's Uncle
Lunch time =)

Middle East » Lebanon » Batroun July 7th 2012

I was excited to get to celebrate my birthday in Lebanon and it proved to be one to remember =) The day started late, as usual. When I walked into the kitchen, Odette was making pancakes and the family sang happy birthday to me. =) Certainly a nice way to begin the day. Joelle, Joanna and I got dressed and headed to a public beach, Zireh, in Jbeil. It was a couldy overcast day and was fairly windy, so it was cooler out and had some nice waves to play in. The beach was sandy, but soon turned into a rocky beach as you entered the water. If you waded out far enough, the rocks eventually gave way to more sand. Later, Lara (the neighbor) and her cousin joined us. It was a fun and relaxing ... read more
The birthday cake
Lara doing my make up
Birthday girl ready to go out and celebrate =)

Middle East » Lebanon » Jbeil July 6th 2012

Today was another incredible day. Joanna's dad took Joanna and me into Byblos Souk (the old city) to visit the old palace. We took a short little tour through the palace and then walked around some more on our own. Jbeil, also known as Byblos (and 4 other names through it's history) is one of the oldest cities in the world. It dates back to 8,000 years ago!!! Incredible. The palace itself was built during the Roman control of the city. They destroyed the old Pheonician and Egyptian buildings and used those stonese to build the palace. Only a portion of the palace is standing today. Lebanon has been under the control of many different civilizations and Regimes. It was under Pheonician, Egyptian, Roman, Ottoman and French control just to name a few. Definitely a lot ... read more
The Ruins
Remains of a Funerary Jar
View from the Palace

Middle East » Lebanon » Jbeil July 3rd 2012

I know I've skipped a day, but I have to start from today and then I'll fill you in on yesterday. Today, Joanna's dad took Joanna and me to Jeita Grotto. Jeita Grotto is a beautiful cave. It almost became one of the natural wonders of the world. It wasn't hard to see why it was one of the places up for consideration. When we walked into the upper cave, it was almost like being in a grand cathedral. The cave was enourmous!!! At once, you were engulfed in a room with big high ceilings from which it appeared grand curtains were cascading down from the ceilings. The rock formations were incredible. The walkway in the cave continued deeper and deeper into the cave and continued to climb. We passed many stalagmites and stalagtites. At one ... read more
Vegetable Stand
At the Aquarium?  Nope, the supermarket!
The meat counter

Middle East » Lebanon » Jbeil July 1st 2012

Another great day! After sleeping in (Lebanese are definitely night owls and NOT early birds), Joelle, Joanna and I went to the "beach". It was actually a beach resort. It was beautiful. We walked down to the big pool surrounded by lounge chairs. A bar was to the far side of the pool and a DJ played hits from the US, Lebanon and Europe. The the side of the big pool, there was a smaller pool with a beautiful waterfall flowing into it. To the other side, the Mediterranean Sea provided a picturesque view. Joelle, Joanna and I spent our time lying on our lounge chairs soaking up the sun and enjoying the cool water of the pool. (A day for which I am now paying with a doooozy of a sunburn. But, well worth it) ... read more
In the Mediterranean Sea =)

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