Lebanon Journals

Getting Lebanoned

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A November 2010 trip to Lebanon by Mandan Lynn

Byblos Archaeological Site Photo, Beirut, Lebanon More Photos
Quote: About a week with dear friends in Lebanon: Tyre, Baalbek, Beirut, and Byblos -- and plenty of time on the crazy, crazy road in between.

Arabic Lessons

Story/Tip

Quote:
One day, I went with Laura to her thrice-weekly three-hour Arabic class. The four students are all native English speakers: Laura from the United States, a young couple from England, and a man from Ireland. The teacher, Hiam, is a 28-year-old Muslim woman with a kind, shy smile who does not speak English.The class, therefore, is entirely in Arabic, which is the best way to learn. Laura has been in the class since May, and she had studied prior to that on her own. I'm not sure the language level of the rest of the students when they arrived, but they all sounded to be doing pretty darn well at this point.The class started with each student telling what they had d...Read More

Driving in Lebanon

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Story/Tip

Quote:
Laura and Francis have been in Lebanon for a year and a half, so they've grown accustomed to the driving experience -- though they might never truly get used to it. There is a book, "Driving in Lebanon: A User Manual," that sums up the experience quite nicely. Hilariously, actually, because chances are if you've spent a couple of days in Lebanon you will have experienced many of the author's illustrations for yourself. Laura had it on her shelf; I read it after I had already spent several days in Lebanese traffic.Where to begin...There are lanes, sometimes, but they are ignored. So on a road with three official lanes, you will probably find five actual rows of c...Read More

Getting Lebanoned

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Coral Suites - Al Hamra Photo, Beirut, Lebanon
Quote:
My dear college friend moved to Lebanon with her husband about a year and a half ago, and I told myself that if I wanted to go to Lebanon, now was the time. I wasn't sure of what to expect, as I had been conditioned somewhere along the way to be a bit wary of this country, and probably with good reason. I read the news about it obsessively before I bought my plane ticket, but never after that.Lebanon is full of contradictions and surprises. From the super-polite passport controller who told me I would not be allowed to enter the country without my friend's address, then walked with me to the waiting area so he could get it from her, to the traffic (I'll get to that in another story), to...Read More

Tyre Old City

Attraction | "I Wanted to Watch a Chariot Race"

Tyre Old City Photo, Tyre, Lebanon
Quote:
We visited the ruins in Tyre very near my friends' home: the Monumental Arch and Roman Hippodrome.Gain admission with $4 to a disinterested man at the entrance -- there were only a few visitors there when we were there on mid-day Monday. We started our wandering through what remains of the old city down the main thoroughfare and through the Monumental Arch. From there it was to the Hippodrome.At first glance it's just a big open space. But we climbed into the stadium (it remains in pieces at various places around the track) and sat on the hard stone seats and gazed out. It's hard to imagine that it was once filled with thousands of people, each cheering on their favorite ch...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 27, 2010

Tyre Old City

Tyre, Lebanon

Byblos Archaeological Site

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Attraction | "Crusader Castle and Ruins"

Byblos Archaeological Site Photo, Beirut, Lebanon
Quote:
Byblos, just north of Beirut on the coast, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and there we were, right in the middle of what remains as the proof of that.Generation after generation built on this beautiful site, so there are different styles of architecture from different periods of time -- some much more intact than others. We walked through the little half walls of what used to be houses. We looked into the city well. We strolled through the castle.Admission was about $6. We wandered on our own; I'm not sure if tour guides were available or not. There are boards posted along the paths through the ruins that explain where you are and what you...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 27, 2010

Byblos Archaeological Site
Old Town
Beirut, Lebanon

Jeita Grotto

Attraction

Quote:
Even when Laura suggested we go here, I wasn't sure what to expect. Since I had friends in Lebanon, I didn't do a lot of pre-trip planning as far as what I wanted to see -- I mostly just wanted to see them and figure it out from there!But we paid our $12 admission and were DELIGHTED.Pictures aren't allowed, so I have nothing to show you, but I can tell you that this is worth your time. You walk through the Upper Grotto, which seems to get more beautiful and astounding with every step you take. There are cave employees stationed along the path, but they're not in any sort of uniform so it's hard to identify them. Once, when we were relatively alone (no other visitors within ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 27, 2010

Jeita Grotto
Jeita
Beirut, Lebanon

Baalbek Roman Ruins

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Attraction | "Biggest Columns in the World"

Baalbek Roman Ruins Photo, Beirut, Lebanon
Quote:
The ruins at Baalbek has, among other things, the tallest columns in the world. We drove to Baalbek from Beirut, a couple of hours worth of driving. In small-world fashion, as we slowed to pass through a little village Laura shouted from the back seat, "That's Miriam! Stop!" Sure enough, her friends Miriam and Alessio were stopped with their friends near a little shop. We pulled over -- they were also on their way to Baalbek! We joined their two-car caravan. The drive to Baalbek is beautiful. Make sure you're not sleeping as you come over the mountains to the Bekaa Valley -- gorgeous.You may have heard that it's not safe to go to Baalbek. We questioned it a ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 27, 2010

Baalbek Roman Ruins
Baalbek
Beirut, Lebanon

Coral Suites - Al Hamra

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Hotel | "Two Nights at the Coral Suites"

Coral Suites - Al Hamra Photo, Beirut, Lebanon
Quote:
I was in Lebanon for barely a week, and I spent two nights with my Tyre-residing friends in Beirut at the Coral Suites.Francis picked this place; it was somewhere he and Laura had stayed before. It was not his first choice, and after this stay, he said as a bit of an afterthought that he probably wouldn't stay here again. I didn't press him for a reason, but I should have -- sorry about that.But! I liked it just fine.The double room we had was two single beds, so we had to request an extra. The room and bathroom were clean and nice, and the minibar was stocked with some awesome mango juice. The balcony was very small -- there was a table and chairs out there bu...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 27, 2010

Coral Suites - Al Hamra
Rue Baalbek Hamra
Beirut, Lebanon 1135966