Saturday, January 23, 2010

Basking in Beirut

This is not basking in the sun, although it was warmer than anywhere we’ve been, but basking in the history of country that has existed for eons! 

Our event was in the Intercontinental Hotel, which was about 200 yards away from the site where the Prime Minister was killed along with 28 other people in a car bomb in 2005.  The ruins were still there. They just can’t decide what to do with this bombed out prime piece of property on the Mediterranean. Below note the solid cement canopy turned upward and the monument to the Prime Minister and his 6 body guards and many others who were killed on this very spot with a 100 megaton bomb:


Some people got tired of waiting for repairs and just went ahead and put a restaurant right in the bombed out shell next door:


The event on our arrival was full of fascinating people as always and culminated with a delightful dinner at the finest fish restaurant in town…full of fish, great Lebanese specialties and also lots of smoke!





The guy above was just getting ready to start smoking his “Hubbly Bubbly”, a smoking machine (mentioned earlier) that allows you to smoke the equivalent of one whole pack of cigarettes at once!  Picture of several of these things at the souk (outdoor market) below. They have just become popular in Lebanon the last couple of years.  What an idea! 


The education chair who organized our event was kind enough to arrange a car and a terrific guide for us this morning to give us a big history lesson.


There is no way that I can tell you how much we learned in one day. More than we could have learned in a whole semester of Lebanese history at college!

We saw beautiful vistas on our way:


The Christian churches are almost as prevalent as the Mosques and are certainly beautiful!  This is Catholic and below that is Eastern Orthodox:



I’ll have to write elsewhere the details of all that we learned with our wonderful guide (shown below) in front of a Lebanese Cedar:


But here is a glimpse into history that goes to a city called Byblos (where the word Bible originated) which is the longest continuously inhabited city in recorded history!

The ruins you see below are from a Crusades Castle, but these are just the “baby ruins”.




The ruins under the building on the right date back to 3500 B.C. somewhere around the time of Moses.


And these ruins back to the time of Noah in about 2000 B.C.

There were even some Roman ruins  including a small outdoor theatre  Isn’t it funny that we think that Roman ruins are ancient until we see these ruins from the beginning of history?

IMG_0792The museum there held coffins from eons ago as well as one of the jars they found with a baby’s skeleton inside. That was the traditional way of burying babies lost as infants.


We loved the souk (street shops) nearby and speaking of old, our guide led us to a shop that has been written up in all the archeological magazines in the world because they have fossils from the mountains above the city (the sea used to be 800 meters higher than it is now) that are one hundred million years old!




We bought a tiny one that we could carry with us. It will be fun to remember this place by!

Again was had a delightful lunch. I mean how often do you get to eat barracuda who are still looking at you?


The big war in Beirut lasted from 1975-1990 if you can believe it! Nobody knows exactly what it was about except for ideology clashes (Palestinian refugees trying to take too much control in their new situation was the best answer we heard)  and nobody knows who won. it just ended one day. Such a tragedy!  The center of town was totally ruined but they have rebuilt a new city center which positively glows with the golden stone and paved roads.


As well as one of the largest mosques in the world!


Inside we saw (from a distance because I as wearing pants and couldn’t go in) an amazing chandelier!


With this view from our hotel balcony of the Mediterranean


and this view from our little breakfast place at the top of the hotel


It was a day we’ll never forget!  Just wish you eyrealm people could have been there! (Can you tell that Dad took control of the camera on this day?)

1 comment:

Jonah and Aja said...

I love that Rick has the camera because of all your little hand waves when you get to be in the photo!
I never knew Lebanon was so beautiful! I'll have to put it on my "places to go" list now. Wow!!