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Published: March 14th 2019
Wednesday March 13, 2019 – Kat arrived last night around 1am, got settled immediately, and went to sleep. I am not so fortunate. It took me ages to fall asleep again, and then it was a light sleep since I knew we had to get up early. I got up before 7am and Kat followed shortly after. We left around 7:15 and waited for our Uber to take us to the travel agency. Kind of annoying, really, since they pick up and drop off other customers who are staying in a hotel. We arrived by 7:30 and went looking for some breakfast, but had a bit of trouble finding anything in that area. Then I found a guy with a cart who had a circular bread I wanted to try, so that was great. It was only a dollar and fed us both, and he put some fun spices inside.
The tour bus didn’t leave until 8:30, so we had a little time to eat and claim a seat on the bus before anyone else did. I chose the seats right behind the driver so we could have something to look at the whole time. Mia was our guide, and
she was nice, and impressively fluent in English, French and Arabic, but her delivery left something to be desired. She sat next to us, so we got to watch her read from a script the whole time, something you would do if you are very new or uninterested. She also spoke in a way that made it hard to know when to listen since it was never clear when she had stopped saying one thing in one language and was about to switch over.
The tour went north, and stopped first at Bcharre, where we visited a museum in an old monastery dedicated to artist and writer Khalil Gibran, who wrote The Prophet, a book for all season, from what I am told. I am embarrassed to say I do not know the work and it is the second best-selling book in the US of all time, after the bible. I’m also not a fan of his art. Next we stopped at The Cedars, which was the part of the trip I was most interested in. The cedar tree is important to Lebanon and it is on their flag, but many have been cut down and no longer fill
the hillsides like they used to. There is now a protected grove that has trees as old as 2000 years, and though small, I was really looking forward to walking there. When we arrived we found out it closed due to a large amount of snow. If I’d known that in advance, I don’t think I would have taken the tour, but at least we could see the trees. Next up was a stop for lunch, which made the trip pretty worthwhile. The main meal here is messe, which is lots of little dishes, both hot and cold, that are shared around, and that would be hard to do alone, or with just me and Kat, so I’m glad that was part of the tour. Our last stop was in the Qadisha Valley at the Deir Mar Antonias Qozhaya Monastery, which is still fully working and also has a small museum with the first printing press in the Middle East. It took a couple hours to get back to Beirut from there, and Kat had a wee catnap along the way. A taxi was hard to come by, for some reason, and there was one right in front of us,
but he was eating. After seeing us get denied by some others, he drive us home and didn’t charge us. So kind.
Back at the apartment, we each had a quick shower and tried our hand at internetting, despite poor connectivity, and then headed out to dinner. We got super lost, due to the first turn being wrong, and then finally made it to Don Eatery, our destination, with the help of Google. I had a rice and duck bowl and Kat had some kind of raw salmon dish. It started to hail and rain as soon as we sat down, so we were lucky to have just missed it. On the way home, it rained lightly for a bit and then poured just after we got home. So lucky. Made our plan for tomorrow and so glad to see it does not look like rain all day as it had looked before!
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