Lebanon – Day 7: Byblos

Samer and I took the morning off and Holly F. led the group the Jeita Grotto and Harissa. I’ve seen both.   The grotto is far more impressive than a statue of the Virgin Mary.  Samer and I walked in Broumanna.   We started by getting coffee at a place called Unicorn Coffee House.   I discovered it during my last trip to Lebanon in 2013.  This was the first time in almost 2 weeks, where we got to enjoy each other’s company.   We’d both been playing host or trip leader quite a lot, so it was nice to chat about the news and gossip.

We stopped by the local chocolatier to ensure that he’d be open tomorrow when we had more people with us.   We were forced to sample some chocolates and we returned to our walk.   We visited a music shop where I looked at drums.   I wanted to buy one for Samer, but we decided to wait and see what our luggage situation was like.   They were $300, but the price seemed reasonable as they were hand made in Egypt.

From there, we walked up to a farm/market owned by a local monastery called Ferme Mar Chaaya.   It’s a pretty walk and I bought some things to take home.   I found these hot peppers stuffed with labneh, that I thought were particularly delicious.  We ate them with dinner that night.

After that errand,  we took a taxi to pick up Maria, Edward, and the kids in order to go to lunch.  Samer treated us to an excellent restaurant called Al-Sultan Brahim in Jounieh.  The food is really good and we ordered so much fried fish that we could barely finish it.  The restaurant is named after a tiny fish that I think is the hamour fish.  You eat them whole and they are delicious.  The lunch was filled with lots of yummy dishes including squid served in its own ink and far too much arak.

We were stuffed with food and it was only getting hotter, so we probably didn’t spend as much time in Byblos as we should have spent.   Byblos is old … I mean really old.   Archeologists think it could have been settled in 8800 BCE. The ruins are currently in the town of Jbeil.  There is another Crusader Castle, there because they built them all over. This one was built in 1100 CE.     There is evidence of the Phoenicians being there in 3000 BCE.

Joe Amara was our guide and he would point to something and say, “this is quite old.” He led the tour with comedy and concision.  When we asked a question, he would instruct us to “read about it when you go home.”  On the occasion that Samer would interject with a fact, Joe would say “Samer is constantly banalizing our history and culture, please ignore.”  The small amphitheater was built in 218 AD, and it must have been lovely to attend with the sea as the backdrop.

 

 

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Photo Credits: Spencer McGee & Josh Ferris

That night we all went to the best night club in the world, Music Hall.  At this time of year, it is outdoors, so it is a different experience than when I was there in 2012.  We all had a really good time.  I thought that the musician who did the Queen covers was really good. The Russian band was particularly entertaining when the screen behind the band started showing the soviet flag flying. It was a great night.

Next – Lebanon – Day 8: Free Day

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