Beirut & Byblos, Lebanon

Beirut Travel Blog

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Byblos
In the early morning hours of October 23, 1983, two trucks full of explosives drove into buildings housing US and French troops. The US marines were members of the 1st Battalion 8th Marines based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, participating in a peace keeping mission there. Their duty term was from May until November.
At the time I was in my first year of community college studying to be a nurse while working at a local fast food restaurant. You always knew when it was payday because that's when alot of the young marines would go off base to eat, especially fast food. I knew alot of the young men who perished that day. It was a big loss for the city of Jacksonville (NC).

When my husband had a few days over and asked if I would like to join him, I jumped at the chance though with mixed emotions.
beauty amongst the ruins
I had only seen images of a war-torn Beirut on TV so I was curious as to what this city would be like now.
We arrived late in the evening so we didn't see much on the bus drive from the airport to the hotel. However, I do remember seeing ruined buildings riddled with bullet holes, reminders of the war. After checking-in, we had a quick nightcap in our suite with the crew, then fell quickly asleep.

The next morning we took a taxi to Byblos which is located about 26 miles north of Beirut. The city is thought to be the oldest in the world, settled around 5000 BC, though there is no concrete proof. Originally named Gabel by the Phoenocians it was later named Byblos by the Greeks because of the import of Egyptian papyrus (bublos) through Gabel to Greece.
looking back at the city of Beirut
However it is commonly known now by its Arabic name Jubayl.
J and his colleagues didn't know much about the UNESCO world heritage list so this was a great opportunity for me to tell them about it and my goal to visit as many of the sites as possible. This being one of them. It was such an incredible feeling to walk through these ruins and through the old shopping streets. We ended the afternoon with dinner at Pepe's - overlooking the ancient harbor filled with modern boats.

Later that evening back in Beirut, we stopped off for dessert at a trendy cafe close to our hotel which was in the Christian side of town. So I shouldn't have been surprised at the luxury cars parked out front, including a Hummer (and not in military beige), and the trendy dressed young people walking around but I was.
overlooking the rest of the town of Byblos
And even more surprised at what happened next. The results of the Lebanese General Elections were just in and the Hariri party had won. Suddenly there were cars and trucks with loudspeakers on top driving up and down the streets waving huge and I mean HUGE flags and beeping their horns. All I thought was WOW, I'm seeing history right before my eyes !!

Next morning was another CNN moment. The phone rang and it was the station manager calling to inform us that there was a politically targeted car bombing early that morning in a residential area but that it was safe to go into the city center. WHAT !!! I'm glad I didn't let my mother know I was coming to Beirut or she would have had a panic attack. And by the time she gets the postcard, I'd be home and would have called.
After watching CNN, J and I (along with the crew) went into downtown to do alittle shopping. Not what I expected...buildings beauifully restored, wide pedestrian only boulevards, stores selling top brandnames and smartly dressed men and women sitting on terras sipping cappucino. And on the harbor, construction crews busy building top hotels. This was definitely a city rising from the ashes. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to visit the city in between its civil wars.









shirlan says:
wow! what a trip!
Posted on: May 18, 2008
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Byblos
Byblos
beauty amongst the ruins
beauty amongst the ruins
looking back at the city of Beirut
looking back at the city of Beirut
overlooking the rest of the town o…
overlooking the rest of the town …
my hero
my hero
overlooking the harbor
overlooking the harbor
on my soap box..
on my soap box..
may I have your attention please..…
may I have your attention please.…
Pepes
Pepe's
ancient harbor in modern times
ancient harbor in modern times
written in stone.
written in stone.
after closing time.
after closing time.
breakfast on the balcony
breakfast on the balcony
The Al-Omari Mosque with the Harri…
The Al-Omari Mosque with the Harr…
Beirut city center
Beirut city center
2,352 km (1,461 miles) traveled
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photo by: vulindlela