In a bit under 48 hours in Lebanon I’ve managed to hit up Baalbeck, Anjar, Ksara, Jeita, Byblos, Harissa and Beirut. It’s been an odd mix of UNESCO Roman ruins, Christian and Islamic religious complexes, beaches and vineyards, and even a bit of Paris thrown in.
I’m exhausted and sunburnt, and a bit sick of eating humus and pita bread, and to be honest, I found Beirut a bit disappointing–felt a bit soul-less and artificial. But outside of Beirut, who knew there were so many ancient and well preserved Roman ruins in Lebanon? Yes, there were some ok beaches and lots of fresh produce, seafood from the Mediterranean, and even Lebanese vineyards (I had some horrendous wines from Ksara btw), but the real winner for me was the ancient ruins.
In particular, if there was only one site in all of Lebanon I had to recommend, it’d be Baalbeck, one of THE ancient cities of the world. First built by the Phoenicians, then conquered by the Greeks, Romans, and the crusaders, Baalbeck takes the cake for having one of the best preserved roman temples in the world–the Temple of Bacchus, along with stunning remains of the temples of Jupiter and Venus.
The second best thing in Lebanon for me was the Jieta Grotto, which is a huge underground cavern with incredible rock formations and a subterranean lake. It’s advertised as a finalist for one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, and definitely worth a trip out of Beirut and even to Lebanon for, though unfortunately for this post, no photos were permitted.
Overall, if I didn’t have an interest in UNESCO sites and Roman ruins, I might have been very very bored and just gotten even more suntanned here in Beirut while boozing it out on the town–the nightlife here is supposed to be infamous, but for this lone traveler who has lived in Paris, I can definitely say Beirut is no Paris, and while it’s been fun, two days has been more than enough here in Lebanon.