6th April 2011
Well we have had a full couple of days. Our first stop yesterday was at Jeita Grotto - a series of caverns, of the most amazing stalactites and stalagmites. We were lucky that it is still early in the season and we pretty much had it to ourselves. There are 2 main routes on foot and the second by boat. We were immediately transported into another world of make believe, stunning formations which remind you of the Lord of the Rings; literally your mind would see whatever you wanted. Whilst I saw forests of Cedars, Richard was seeing swatches of fabrics hanging on rails like ones seen on the Ground floor of Peter Jones – I think it may be the coffee effect. Shots of short black Turkish coffee and very very strong has us all wired. Moving on from there we hit Byblos, dodging rain clouds as we where guided round the old ruins before a most spectacular fish lunch by the sea.
Later we arrived at Tripoli and had a great time exploring the souks before heading to our hotel which is located beside the International Fair. This is a vast open park with the most bizarre concrete structures; very soviet feel to it, but for fans of modernist architecture you will be interested to know it is all by the renowned Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer who also did the Serpentine Gallery in London. Commissioned in 1963 it alas was never finished due to the war and now is a rather sad crumbling white elephant but we did have fun in the domed – well we are not quite sure what, as it’s not finished - counting echoes.
We are now back in Beirut for the night having been up the Qadisha Valley, sadly the Cedars forest was closed as they have had more snow than usual but that did not stop my adventurous group. Having been told by a local to hop over the fence and without any one impaling themselves we climbed over the fence and had a short walk through them. Back in Beirut we stopped off at the National Museum and saw a number of items that had been discovered at Byblos. Tomorrow we are off to the Bekaa Valley.