3rd April 2011
The people are incredibly friendly whereever you go, welcoming you and generally please that you are here on holiday. Last night was no exception. I had gone to meet my friend again who I had had supper with on the first night and he was with friends at a bar down the road from where I was staying. Of course there is no such thing as a quick drink the Lebanese love to gossip be it over drinks and nibbles or a huge banquet there is no rush. Sitting down we were 3 Armenians, 2 Sunnis, 1 Orthodox and 1 RC, all friends from growing up together, studying and even working together, laughing and joking with each other. Of course I had been far and wide earlier in the day...
Starting with the Cedars, famous for its skiing as well as the small wood of cedars some which go back a couple of thousand years. What is must have been like when the hills here where covered with cedar forests. The Phenicians came here and traded for wood and the resin which they used in their mummification process, now they have been replanting and one day the hills around will be forests again but one may have to wait a rather long time to see this as they are rather slow growing. Driving up and down to the Cedars we drove through the Qadisha Valley, famed for its beauty, hillsides of terrace apple orchids, waterfalls, monasteries clinging to rocky hillside and the deep gorge. Having come up on side we headed down the other into Tripoli and arrived at the old crusader castle which is being restored currently at midday and the call of prayers being rung out all across the old city before heading into the souks, where we had some delicous round sesame covered bread filled with bread and toasted on hot coals called Kaick (unfornunate name but very yummy).
Departing Tripoli where I will be back on Tuesday, our next stop was Byblos. Like all the coastal areas the hill side is amass of construction but head down to the old town by the harbour and suddenly you are in a charming seaside village with a tiny harbour and plenty of restaurants serving delicous seafood. Narrow lanes weave their way up to the old castle on top of Roman remains which are on top of Phencians builings layer upon layer. My head was spinning by the end of the day.
Today we are off to the Bekaa Valley, so I had better sign off here.