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Middle East » Lebanon » Baalbek March 15th 2019

Friday March 15, 2019 – Today Kat and I headed out to see two UNESCO sites, both archaeological. We stopped at the Wooden Bakery after Kat’s shower and she got some pastry, and we had to wait longer than expected for the Uber due to traffic. I was a little nervous, but we arrived in plenty of time. We checked in and got seats on the bus – this time in the second row. The Germans from Wednesday who sat behind us were now sitting in front of us. The French guys were also on this tour again with us. I tried to find the round bread guy, but no luck today. Our tour guide was named Lucy and she was much, much better at dispensing knowledge than the woman we had on the last tour. ... read more
Cold, rainy and plastic bags on feet
Classic look
Anjar

Middle East » Lebanon March 14th 2019

Thursday March 14, 2019 – Another good day. I woke up early, as always, and did a little internetting, since it works fast in the morning. Eventually we were both awake and on our way to the Wooden Bakery for a breakfast pastry. I decided to pass, as my stomach felt a little troubled. Kat called us an Uber, which cost twice what we had expected due to it being a “busy time”, but we decided it would be worth it to get on our way to the Jeita Grotto. It was a bit rainy outside which made it a coincidentally good time to hit the enormous cave system. There is an upper cave and a lower cave, and usually you would take a cable car to the upper cave, walk inside, and then take a ... read more
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Jeita Grotto
Jeita Grotto

Middle East » Lebanon » Bcharre March 13th 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 ... read more
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View
View from bus

Middle East » Lebanon » Beirut March 12th 2019

Tuesday March 12, 2019 – Today was a long day. I finally got out of bed at 7:30 and finished up some blogging. It usually takes much longer than I think it will. Add that to bad internet, and hey, you got work. I planned out my day and got out of the apartment around 9:15am. I started walking to the National Museum, which is about 30 minutes away, trying to use my map to be successful. Of course, Beirut has other ideas. I was generally in the right place when I stopped at a little place for a take-away breakfast. I got a pita rolled up with lebnah and vegetables. I couldn’t exactly remember what any of the food optons were, but I’m sure Johanna had mentioned lebnah so that’s what I got. It was ... read more
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum

Middle East » Lebanon » Tyre March 11th 2019

Monday March 11, 2019 – I got up just before 7am, thinking that if I was going to have enough time to hit two towns as a daytrip that I’d better be quick. And I was right. I was out the door by 8am, stopping in at nearby Wooden Bakery to get a chocolate pasty and ask how much I could expect to pay for a taxi to the Cola intersection, where I would catch my bus. She said no more than 8000, but when I asked for service (share taxi), he quoted me 4000, which is double the normal share taxi but expected since the distance was longer. From there I got a bus to Sidon, known here as Saida. It took about an hour and only left when reasonably full, so we arrived around ... read more
Crusader Sea Castle
View from Crusader Sea Castle
View from Crusader Sea Castle

Middle East » Lebanon » Beirut March 10th 2019

Saturday March 9, 2019 – I had so much time before my flight left at 4:30pm today that I thought there would be no way to be pre-trip stressed. I was wrong. I did a smidge of cleaning and worked on my packing a bit more. I changed some of the things I was bringing, and agonized over every decision. As always. I don’t know why I’m not an expert packer by now, but there you are. I said good-bye to the boy and the cats and headed out to the bus a little before 2:30pm. Then a tram. Then another bus to the airport. It felt like I waited ages to check-in, but it was really a maximum of 15 minutes. When I had checked in online, for some reason I could print the ticket ... read more
Church
Mohammed El-Amine Mosque
Mohammed El-Amine Mosque

Middle East » Lebanon » Beirut February 12th 2019

Day 74: Smooth commute back to Ashford. Really nice to catch up with Hat after a few months, and be with the grandparents at the same time. Hours sadly pass very quickly sitting around that table. Slept like a log with the comfort a non-hostel bed. Day 75: Packing skill-set truly tested with some of the acquisitions, but after a couple hours of deliberation and trial it all fitted in the 90 litre pack. Dawned on me after a couple of big 'see you laters' that the trip is very much coming to a close. Gatwick check-in was as quick as Europe even with bag. Istanbul airport is both massive and chaos, never seen so much ground support on the move. Upgrade to premium economy for the short leg to Beirut - nice one. Day 76: ... read more
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IMG_20190131_115757

Middle East » Lebanon » Beirut January 26th 2019

A two hour taxi drive takes us from North Lebanon to South Lebanon. It's a small country but each area is different. Beirut is a cosmopolitan city; Byblos is predominantly Christian; Sidon is 80% Sunni Muslim. Sidon has large Syrian and Palestinian refugee camps on its outskirts; some were established in the ‘50s but refugees still arrive today. Our hotel is run by Palestinians and our map tells us that the border to Lebanon's south is with Palestine not Israel. Yasser Arafat's poster is everywhere. Our hotel is old, all stone arches, high ceilings and wonky doorways. The walls are made of huge stone blocks, the windows are shuttered. We are the only guests; we have breakfast in our dusty, exclusive dining room on the roof. Our room and the roof terrace overlook the port and ... read more
Sidon's sea castle
Souk
Ottoman era house

Middle East » Lebanon » Beirut January 23rd 2019

We’re not supposed to be in Beirut, not even in the Lebanon, but here we are in a taxi, whizzing through Beirut’s dodgy southern suburbs into the safe downtown. We were due to travel to Sudan, organised by a UK tour company in partnership with the foremost travel company in Khartoum. Everything was arranged including visas on arrival in Sudan and we had the necessary documents to show this. Or rather, we thought we did until Epypt Air in Cairo refused to let us board the plane to Khartoum. No visa, no check in, no fly. A quick bit if replanning and here we are, unprepared and disorganised and heading for Beirut. To our west, we catch glimpses of the Med; to the east, glimpses of the snow covered Chouf mountains. Seaside and skiing in a ... read more
Place d'Etoile, Beirut
Byblos harbour
Byblos ruins

Middle East » Lebanon » Beirut November 4th 2018

Beirut. The name never conjures up neutral reaction; usually raised eyebrows or enlarged eyes from anyone a little familiar with the place. Perhaps your first thoughts are about war. Perhaps they are about a cosmopolitan melting pot of cultures and religions. Perhaps they are about its vibrant bars and crazy nightlife. Perhaps they are about the awesome band of the same name. Whatever your opinions and whatever instantly comes to mind however, there is one thing that we can all agree on; Beirut is a name that fires fascination. It has certainly always done so for me and this started from a young age. When I was a kid, Beirut was always associated with violence, with reports on the six o'clock news always carrying stories about the latest bombing or assassination. Then as a teenager, the ... read more
Mohamed Al Amin Mosque
Place de l'Etoile
The Temple Of Bacchus, Baalbek




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