Just spent a fantastic day through this beautiful country. Within an hour drive north of Beirut, along the coast line, are the Jeita Grotto, Harissa and Byblos.
I took one of those tour companies for this one, because I realized that it would actually be cheaper than going on my own. The funny thing is that when they told me they'd pick me up at 7:45, I took it as 7:45 Egyptian time, expecting them around 8:10. The driver arrived at 7:41! I wasn't even ready. So.not.like.egypt.
The Jeita Grotto is one of the most amazing natural wonders I've ever seen. It's these two caves in the mountains, that have these incredible stalagmite and stalactites formations. Unfortunately we were forbidden to take photos, but the memory will stick. The lower cave is a lake which also sources the dog river in the valley. The lower cave is explored by a short boat ride and it is just fabulous! There are rock formations sticking out of everywhere, requiring you to duck and watch your head and hands. It's cold, humid, and the water is crystal clear with a view of the formations from below. It feels like you're on the set of some sci-fi movie, or Harry potter or Lord of the Rings, or something. It's breathtaking!
From there we saw the statue of Mary in Harissa, reached by a very intimidating sky ride up the mountain. That was more exciting that the statue itself. It offered beautiful views of the coastline and all the red-roofed Lebanese houses.
Finally, we drove further up the coast to visit the ruins in Byblos. Some of the ruins found on this site date as far back as 10,000 BC!! I admit that by the time we reached Byblos, I was a little too hot and tired to explore, so instead, I roamed through the souq. Not a single person hassled me to buy something. No one bothered me at all. Crazy!
We wrapped the tour with a really nice seafood lunch at white beach, a beautiful pebble beach on the turquoise Mediterranean Sea. Overall, it was a fabulous day. I love visiting a place, having few expectations, and then feeling totally in awe of all the beauty!
Lebanon is such a beautiful country!
Sadly, after spending the rest of my afternoon in a cafe, I learned about the bombing in tripoli. Everything seemed totally normal that day, and no one mentioned anything while on the tour. And everything did continue normally afterwards as well. It's just so perplexing. Such a rich, historic, and beautiful land. And attacks are part of the norm.