Sunday 10 March 2019

I’m heading out of the city today, headed north up the coast to a few different towns.

I was picked up at 8am. And there were only 2 other people on the day trip!

Our first stop was at Jeita grotto. A cave system, full of stalagmites and stalagtites. The caves apparently run for 6km, but only the entrance part is open. There is an upper cavern and a lower cavern. But today the lower part was closed due to flooding.

It was a cool cave. I’ve been to many similar caves before, so perhaps wasn’t quite so bowled over as some others seemed to be. We got there before the crowds, which was good. So I managed to walk some of it totally alone.

No photos allowed which is mystifying. So I was sneaky…

From here we drove around the winding mountains, through small villages, to the town of Harissa. This town is famous for its church and statue, which is 700m above sea level, on a hill overlooking the coastline.

It was a very clear day, with great views.

On the way back down, we caught the 9 minute cable car. It was rather scary, it went fast right over the edge of the mountain. Before skimming over the buildings, right past people’s windows.

Last stop of the day – Byblos. This town is one of the worlds oldest continually inhabited towns. Much of the artefacts found here and buildings are over 5,000 years old.

There is the ruins of a Crusader castle. And a Roman village, along with a small roman amphitheatre.

Just outside the castle is a souq area. An alleyway full of stalls selling the usual touristy stuff.

We had lunch at a cafe overlooking the harbour. It was really good – hummus, salad, Lebanese bread, babaganoush, spicy potatoes and tomato pasta.

We left Byblos around 2.30pm. Which was early – but we wanted to beat the traffic back into Beirut. Apparently many people head back to the countryside for the weekend, so the traffic back into Beirut on a Sunday is bad.

For dinner I got some takeaway falafel – which came with tahini sauce and a salad (mint leaves, parsley leaves, tomato and very spicy pickled chillis). So good.

Monday 11 March 2019

When I booked an 8am flight home, I thought it was a great idea. Realising that I needed to leave at 5.30am (which is 3.30am UK time). Not ideal.

Luckily there was no traffic, so a very easy 15 minute drive to the airport. To stand in queues for the next hour through 4 different security lines…!


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