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Published: August 26th 2013
This should be mine
A Lebanese national treasury
I decided this morning to go visit Sidon and Tyre thinking I could do it myself cheaper and control what I wanted to see and do. Well it was a lot of hassle and discomfort for little gain, oh I saw what I wanted to see but there is a shortage of guides and literature regarding tourist sights here which is no surprise really.
I travelled in local transport and paid taxi drivers to much to get to places because the heat here is just unbearable near the coast.
I went to Sidon first which is only about 45 km south of Beirut to visit the Sea Castle a fortress built on a small island by the crusaders in the thirteenth century, the castle had a number of Roman columns imbedded in the walls.
I then crossed the road and entered the souk which consisted of a labyrinth of passage ways all under common roof, I have seen similar type buildings before but this one rates highly. I then visited the Temple of Echmoun which was built by the Phoenician some 2500 years ago. There was little left and no signs to explain anything.
I then hopped
in another van headed for Tyre and broiled while I waited for it to fill up, eventually we were on our way arriving maybe an hour later. I then climbed on another local bus to the town centre, with no idea where I was when I disembarked. That is when the Palestinian cabbie approached me and took me first to the Roman cemetery and the Hippodrome which were very impressive and then a seaside temple complex with a stunning street paved with mosaics.
I then had to wait for another bus to fill before enduring a nightmare trip back to Beirut, where I received an upgrade to a better room for free.
This morning I did a tour of the down town area it is pedestrian free and slowly being restored after the horrors of the civil war, very slowly as foreign contributions have stopped due to indemic political corruption.
The Roman baths and French and Arab influenced architecture are a highlight as are the various religious buildings. It is a traffic free area and a pleasant place to be in the morning, next we visited the superb National Museum which held treasures from all over the
country. Unfortunately much was lost when the building was bombed during the civil war.
It was then time to move on to Beiteddin built in the early 1800's by Emir Bashir and the summer home of the Lebanese president which is located in a Druze dominated area in the mountains south east of Beirut. The palace beautifully preserved and has a fine hamman and the best set of mosaics I have ever seen anywhere. Druze is a religion based around a holy book written in the 1100 from data contained in the Koran and the Bible.
We then had a great mezze lunch at a 200 year old restaurant before creating a killer tomato, the fruit is huge and is infused with arak, salt and pepper, you eat it, it tastes a bit like anaseed.
Next we visited the Maronite monastery dedicated to the lady of the mountain and the nearby caravanserai.
I will be leaving for Cypus tomorrow evening and plan to rest tomorrow.
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