Sometimes I really struggle for a title. This is one of them. Maybe it will come to me later and I can update this post before you read it :)
I know this blog is behind the times when I am writing about a country I visited a month ago. In general this is fine, as I don’t have any deadlines ;) But the issue is that I can’t remember all the things I saw, felt, heard, tasted, experienced, etc, in that country, because I have seen a lot of stuff since then. The problems of a traveller…
But, I haven’t lost the photos, the common theme seems to be buildings. Let me show you a few:
Downtown Beirut is gorgeous, perfect, and spotless (quite a novelty for this part of the world). Maybe it does lack some character, but its stone buildings and wooden shutters look terrific to my eyes. Imagine a whole downtown full of these.
Speaking of buildings, here is the finest I have seen in a long time. The Mohammed al-Amin Mosque glows at night. How stunning is that?? I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it. I challenge you to not stare this picture.
Still on the topic of buildings, there are some in the Beirut that have seen better days. This is the old Holiday Inn. As the story goes, back in the day, it was exceptional: new, upscale, classy. Three weeks after opening, civil war broke out in the country. Militants started using the hotel as a sniper perch. Now the building, uh, has wholes where a building shouldn’t have holes, if you see what I mean. It stands as a reminder of the country’s violent recent history.
How about some ancient buildings? I visited the Roman ruins in Baalbek. As you know, I’m not much of a “Roman ruin guy”, but I will tell you, I do love Roman columns. They are impressive! (When I have a dwelling of some kind, I would love a few Roman columns.)
Here are the six remaining columns of the Temple of Jupiter. It used to have 54! Can you imagine that?!? To give you a sense of scale, there is a fellow tourist (white shirt) near the bottom-right. These pillars stand 19m high. Wow. Those Romans… they were nothing if not grand, no?
I feel like I’m on a roll with the buildings. Here’s one more photo that really shows the nature of Beirut. On the right, a beautiful colonial-style building. Across the street, a war-torn one, full of bullet holes. That’s how it goes here. It’s the contrast that really gets me sometimes.
I have seen quite a few good beer slogans all over the world (such as the fountain of youth that is Spirulina Beer in Myanmar). To my list, I have just added this one from Efes beer (which is actually Turkish). I think it describes travellers perfectly:
A few other random thoughts about my Lebanese days:
– traffic in Beirut is a nightmare
– I really enjoyed the availability of beer in Beirut. Unlike much of the rest of the Middle East, I don’t have too work to hard to find one. In fact, in Beirut, you can party all night like a rock star.
– there are lots of well-dressed people and pimp cars. There was a Ferrari dealership right near my hostel (I just window-shopped).
By now, you know what happens each time I leave a country. You can find them here.
I will leave you with an inspirational note from a construction site.