Friday December 24, 2010 10:41
Beirut – Paris of the Middle East
Now almost at the end of the project, I reached Beirut, Lebanon this December. With Germany, Egypt, Jordan, Korea, Morocco, Tunisia, UAE, Pakistan & Russia implemented, it is already quite an impressive resume. Isn’t it, head-hunters?
Beirut also known as the Paris of the middle east and it did not disappoint at all. Though much of it was destroyed in the local tensions, they have done a great job in reviving it in the recent years. Great weather, we saw the sun, some heavy rain and while we were leaving it, snow on the mountains as well.
I think that’s the biggest attraction for tourists. In about a 90 minute drive you could go from the beach against the Mediterranean Sea to the Ski Slopes on the mountains. Just an amazing work of creation by The Greatest Creator.
We went to the Harriri Mosque which was sponsored by the recently assassinated good guy president. Beautifully constructed and wonderfully hand-painted ceiling inside. Harriri’s burial ground along with his companions was next to the mosque where we paid homage also.
Next trip was to the mountains to Moussa Palace which is more of a Museum. They had preserved the life in this region many years ago in form of Wax sculptures. Quite interesting. They had also preserved some guns from the very old war times. Very informative and interesting how artillery has developed over period of time.
After that we went to the President’s Summer Palace which is also depicted mainly as a museum as well. The President comes and stays there in the summers. Also a huge ground exists where all the great concerts happen with celebrities coming from around the world. Again a beautiful place holding history from hundreds of years. It was amazing to see royalty exist through the saunas and the other grandeur of construction. The saunas had huge platforms with sunlight poring through the ceiling. With taps and baths built where possibly the masseurs of the time took care of the kings and rulers.
Next place to visit was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Jeita Girotto. Nominated as one of the seven wonders of the world, didn’t make it. I keep wondering why. These are caverns with thousands of years of ice and snow frozen to create an amazing display of the beauty of Nature. The Lebanese Government had done a good job preserving this as well. There were no flash photography allowed inside. But, I was told that sometimes they get orchestras in and conduct concerts. I could only imagine what a wonderful experience that would be. Sounds of music echoing the caverns. There were 2 levels. One was on the upper level where it was a view walking on foot. Then on the lower level there was icy cold water on which boats moved. We were inside a huge mountain made hollow with caverns and icicles frozen through time.
Next place was Byblos. Ancient ruins from the Ottoman empire and the amazing view of creativity and how they managed their defence. It was actually a fort by the sea connected to the fort on land. It was quite interesting to understand life so many years ago. There was a great display of fossils found in the region as well as in the mountains. Its the latter that impressed me in particular. Seeing sea-life fossils found in the mountains indicates how high the water level was and how the truth of the whole world flooding in some time in the past holds good.
Lebanese food was an experience every time we were taken out by one of our colleagues. They order a whole list of appetizers of Hommos, Fatoush, Tabouleh, Vine Leaves, etc.You enjoy that and you feel you are done, you couldn’t have more. But then you realize that was just the appetizer. The main course contains bar-be-cued stuff. The thing I observed was on none of the meals, you finish stuff. It was kinda customary to leave something on every dish. It was wasted which I didn’t like but had to go with the flow. It was kinda bad hosting by the host if something got finished it seems. They order at least 3 times more than what would be eaten.
Tried Sheesha for the very first time. I think it would be the very last time also. Injurious to health and anyway, I didn’t understand the charm of mindless smoke swallowing and blowing.
It was an eventful trip, probably the most where we got out and looked around compared to the other places. This of course thanks to our colleagues who didn’t let us spend time stuck in the hotel.