Grottoes and Levantine Conclusion
Beirut Travel Blog› entry 23 of 32 › view all entries
Grotto Excursion and More
This is my last day in Beirut before I fly out in the evening to Dubai then Colombo. Thereâ€™s a whole day to fill. I invited Claire (also staying at the hostel) to join me in going to the Jeita Grottoes.
We made a brief stop at Nahr al-Kalb (Dog River or Lycus River for those familiar with history) . This river is marked with many historical plaques commemorating victories over the centuries, ranging from Arabic, Roman, French (Napoleon), Greek and ANZAC etc.
The Jeita Grottoes themselves were pretty amazing, but unfortunately no photos are permitted:
- The Upper Grotto consisted of a very deep cavern which visitors walk through in amazement because of the size and complexity of the formations.
- The Lower Grotto is not as big but it is slightly flooded. Visitors are barged through the grotto. The illumination within, reflected on the water leaves shimmers of aqua and gold on the formations. It is just so so so beautiful.
We filled in the rest of the day at Byblos, which is an ancient harbour with Roman remains ... civilisation there existed before Roman times and the various civilisations built on top of the ruins of the previous.
Racial taunts gone wrong
While at Byblos some Lebanese tried doing some racial taunts thinking that I was from China .
The Lebanese Riviera
On the way back to Beirut, we took a bus that didnâ€™t take the motorway but the coastal route. Only then did we realise the full extent of the Lebanese Riviera.
The coast was dotted with many hotels with pools packed to the brim. There were also amazing huge restaurants with both alfresco and air-conditioned dining.
Then there are the Beach Clubs ... this is not about swimming in the sea. There may not beven be sand. There are pools but it is all about posing, eating, drinking and dancing all day in the trendiest swimwear .
Conclusion before Leaving the Levant
Before this trip, Syria was my favourite country as it had an interesting mix of Roman, Crusader, Ottoman and Arab relics. All this was made better by the amazing value ... things used to be ridiculously cheap.
But now, it isnâ€™t that cheap ... itâ€™s still not expensive. I still like it heaps ... but Iâ€™m starting to think if there should be a new favourite? Maybe not.
People in Syria are still hospitable and genuine (by and large). Lebanon in general is similar ... but Beirut is (and has been for a while) a very glitzy and hedonistic place. The food (including ice cream) in Syria is often just as good for a fraction of the price, but in Beirut, itâ€™s all about being seen and wearing the right gear.
Iâ€™m not sure if Iâ€™ll be back to Beirut for a fifth time ... but I certainly wonâ€™t turn down another Syrian adventure if it fits in well with my future plans!