Baalbek Travel Blog› entry 566 of 658 › view all entries
March 17th, 2009 – by: Deats
I must confess that Lebanon is probably one of the most disappointing countries that i have encountered. Now don't get me wrong, its a nice place and with the exception of the minivan and taxi drivers, the people are very kind, helpful and friendly. But i really had expected more in terms of the sites, most of which i found a touch dull and repetitive. At this point though, i must state that this feeling partially comes from the fact that i have seen so many Roman ruins over the past 4 months, that it would have taken something pretty spectacular to make me gasp in awe - so thank God we saved Baalbek until last!
Coming from the warmth of the coastal town of Tripoli, we were in for a shock when we arrived into Baalbek at 17.
As we were only staying one night, we opted to go out and take a gander at the Roman ruins whilst they were lit up, and then found a really good sandwich shop that was rustling up beef and fish baguettes. Returning home i took the opportunity to catch up with my blog and after making some good progress, i was horrified and dumbstruck when my computer crashed and wouldn't work work anymore.
I wasn't feeling too great on Wednesday as our room had been terribly cold in the night and the saggy bed had left me with a bad back - i guess you normally get what you pay for! My mood was immeasurably improved by a trip to the sandwich shop from the previous evening and this gave me the energy for our day of sightseeing. The first ruins that we saw in the town were the Temple of Venus, which were located just across from the main site. There were plenty of touts here, selling all kinds of rubbish, from 'genuine' Roman coins to Hezbollah T-shirts, which i am sure wouldn't go down too well in Israel!
Entrance to Baalbek is normally 12,000LL ($8), but when i showed our ISIC cards we were let in for 7,000 ($4.
We climbed up to the Temple of Jupiter to make a closer inspection of the six remaining columns, before going across to the incredibly well preserved Temple of Bacchus. Most of the original columns are still standing here, and there were lots of ornate carvings in the roof and wall and also a very decorative one on the keystone.
Leaving the ruins we went in search of some lunch, but there was a distinct lack of eating options, so we ended back in the same sandwich shop. Having collected our bags from the Hotel we went and caught a minivan to the town of Zahle (3000LL/$2) and then a service taxi to Damascus (300SYP/$6.50 per person). As always the taxi driver was a complete arsehole and sensing some easy money decided to tell me that i had to share the front seat with another man. As we had been the first people in the taxi, i said i would therefore rather sit on one of the backseats, but nobody would move around, so we told him that we would just use the next taxi.
Exiting Lebanon was pretty painless and getting into Syria was no problem either, although it was annoying to have to pay $52 for me and $20 for Julia again, as we were only planning on spending a couple of days in the country. I can't say that i will be in any hurry to head back to Lebanon, although maybe i will return with a large amount of money to experience Beirut's nightlife - but i doubt it.
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