I went to Lebanon last year during the Eid-al-Adha break. I’ve been thinking to post some pictures about the trip, but I kept postponing until now. Well, better be late than never, right?
Lebanon is really beautiful country with a lot of smokes. Yes, smokes from the cigarettes and shisha. Honestly I hate the smell of the smoke, not to mention that it’s harmful to health. Going back to my first point, Lebanon was worth the visit. I went to most of the northern areas in 4 days: Beirut, Byblos, Baalbek, Tripoli, and Bsharri.
In Beirut, it wasn’t easy to find budget hotel/hostel because there weren’t many. Beirut feels very modern with many posh shops and eateries, especially in the downtown area. My friends and I had a wonderful Labneh at Grand Cafe restaurant (bottom right corner in the picture). Labneh/laban is soft cheese made from yogurt. It was mixed with some pine nuts and olive oil. I was shocked when I saw the vegetables served with it. They were totally uncut at all, and thus very fresh 🙂 The salad, which we had at a different restaurant was topped with deep-fried pita chips to balance off the healthiness of the salad. Lebanese pita bread is thinner than the bread in other Arab countries. So, when it’s deep fried, the bread becomes super crunchy. Ohh.. I felt in love with Lebanese food already.
The next place we tried to go was Baalbek. There is a Roman temple there, but sadly I didn’t have any good pictures taken. It was all because we departed from Beirut in the afternoon, and when we got there the sun was going to set already. We also went to a cheap place to have tabouleh (chopped parshley with tomatoes and onions) and shish kebab. Almost every Lebanese we met during the trip bragged how good tabouleh is. I personally think it’s alright if I am not forced to finish a huge dish of it.
The following day we visited Baalbek, which is like a port city and Tripoli. At first I didn’t like Tripoli because the souk (market) was too crowded and dirty (actually that’s how souk usually is) until I found a gem in the city. Abdul Rahman Hallab and Sons – a dessert place from 1881, serves many traditional Lebanese sweets and other desserts. I understand how they can survive for more than a hundred year with such wonderful and delicate sweets. I like desserts, but not so-crazily sweet kinds. And that place just offers what I want. They also serve ice cream for a good price. We chose five scoops of ice cream: hazelnut, kiwi,caramel, blackberry, and crunch. Guess which one was my favorite!
After that, we headed to Bsharri, near the Kadisha Valley. Bsharri is a quiet town with many hills and beautiful scenery. I felt peace and solemnity, as contrary to liveliness in Tripoli. I also had very sweet and crisp apples as free hospitality service from the hostel. I never knew that apples could be that sweet and fresh. There is a grotto, which we wanted to go, but we just passed by it because we falsely interpreted the sign. Very silly! We hiked a loooooong way just for it, but we missed it. T.T There is also the Cedars, a great place for skiing in the winter. Too bad our time was short, so we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to.
So yeah, that was Lebanon. It was an interesting country, which I don’t know when I can revisit again. An interesting fact that I remembered about the country is there are more Lebanese living abroad than living in Lebanon. I think you’ll understand why once you visit the country yourself.