My blog has been quiet for the past ten days or so while our nephew Tony visited. Partly because I've been busy popping around from city-to-city in Lebanon and partly because Tony ought to tell his own stories of Middle Eastern adventures.
Last Sunday we hiked in the Batroun region, then spent Monday in the southern city of Tyre, probably my favorite place in the country. Tyre makes for a great do-it-yourself visit because people there are so social. The "far south" gets few American visitors due to proximity to Israel/Palestinian territories and hype about the dangers there, so a lot of people want to chat you up about where you're from. We visited the Roman ruins and I finally bought a big saj (a convex grill-like device commonly used to make various Lebanese streetfoods). Don't ask me how I'm going to get it back to the U.S. Family members: be sure to ask Tony about the horses and UNFiL troops in the hippodrome, and the litter of pups and ghost in the funerary complex.
Tuesday I taught all day so Nicole took Tony to the Beittedine Castle. Wednesday and Thursday we took two days to see the Christian coastal region: Nahr al Kalb, Jbeil (aka Byblos), Jounieh, Harissa (home of Our Lady of Lebanon), and Jeita. As promised, the telefrique to Harissa was a bit terrifying and the walk to the Jeita Grotto was tiring. Friday, Nicole, Tony, and I kept the d-i-y spirit alive and went to Tripoli and Batroun, cities in the north, and then out to drinks with Ghassan, a friend of mine with an MFA who Tony wanted to chat with about grad school decisions. Saturday, closer to Beirut for a soccer match at AUB, lunch at Aunti Selwa's (who knew she opened up on weekends?), and some much-needed catch-up on schoolwork.
Sunday, our pal Karine joined us for a day in Saida that included much falafel and a difficult-to-arrange-but-well-worth-it expedition to the Phoenician ruins of the god Eshmoun, a place nobody in Saida seemed to know of. Monday, out to Bekaa Valley for Baalbeck, Anjar, and the winery at Ksara; we did an organized tour which Tony didn't seem to find too "old lady"-ish, which is good, because those cities are a bit more difficult to access on your own. Sad to see Tony go. Any visit to Lebanon is too short. Have safe travels, T!