Saturday, November 27, 2010
Imagine having Roman ruins within your downtown area? The ruins below are in the Beirut city centre.
Downtown Beirut has undergone a lot of reconstruction over the past few years and is on it's way back to it's former 'Paris of the Middle East' glory.
Above and below is the new downtown shopping area Beirut Souks. Home to many western chains including H&M and Zara, but also Louis Vuitton, Stella McCartney, Jimmy Choo, Burberry and many more.
Lebanon is really something else. Downtown you can pass women in burkhas, next to women in singlets and mini-skirts. Army men with AK47s next to teenagers with baggy pants. The electricity is still intermittent and will suddenly go off and then back on again. Hot water is not always a given. The traffic is insane, but somehow just works. The people are lovely. And the food is amazing.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I had been interested in going to Baalbek because my Pa had visited Baalbek during World War II. But I hadn't done much research on what was there so I had no idea what to expect. Turns out that Baalbek, on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is one of the best preserved groups of Roman Temples in the world. If you can get there do. The site is amazing and after visiting many museums and galleries in Europe, it is a bit of an eye opener to be able to walk through the site and touch anything you want. It actually felt quite wrong, especially in the museum section where there were statues and other artifacts displayed, yet no signs saying do not touch and no glass cabinets separating you from the objects. Most people respected the age of the artifacts and didn't touch them.
The Temple of Venus
The temple of Jupiter
The Bacchus Temple
More of the Baachus Temple
Sarcophagi in the museum to the left of the stairs of Bacchus Temple. It is easy to miss, but well worth it if you are interested in funeral practices and sarcophagi.
There are many market stalls leading up to the ruins. Nick's cousin warned us against buying the yellow t-shirts with green writing, actually his words were, 'look at those stupid tourists buying Hezbollah t-shirts, they have no idea what they are doing'. Make sure you're informed about symbols and patterns. And there are plenty of other souvenirs without a political message.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
We don't have many photos of Tripoli as we only drove through the city on our way to Chiekh Toba, to the Lake and to the Cedars. Tripoli is predominantly a muslim city and was quite different from the Christian areas of Beirut and the Christian village of Chiekh Toba. Here are the few photos we managed to get, once again out of the car window...
This last photo was taken by Nick.
Friday, November 19, 2010
We spent a few very relaxing days in the village where Nick's father's family is from, Chiekh Taba.
Nick and his Grandma (Teta in Arabic)
Post lunch beer and figs
Nick's aunts on the balcony at Grandma's house
One morning we came into the kitchen and eggplants were roasting on top of the gas burner! Much easier than getting the oven heated. That lunchtime we had the most delicious eggplant dip (Baba Ghanouj).
Most mornings Teta and Nick's Aunts made yoghurt (below) and Labneh (above), a soft cheese made from yoghurt.
Kibbeh in yoghurt (kibbeh labniyeh)
Probably the biggest misunderstanding we had in Lebanon was telling everyone that we love kibbeh and would love them to make it for us. Turns out that there is more than one type of kibbeh and everyone assumed we meant kibbeh neyh and made that. Kibbeh neyh is raw kibbeh. It was not what we meant. I tried it, it tasted like kibbeh, just a little too raw for my liking. A few days later Nick's aunts made kibbeh labniyeh - delicious and cooked.
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