Day 21, 17 April 2009
17.04.2009 - 17.04.2009
Lebanon is a very small country – only 180km long and 50km across. Today a small group of seven caught two taxis 90km over the Mount Lebanon Range into the Bekaa valley to the site of Baalbek. The other side of the valley are the Anti-Lebanon Ranges. The Bekaa valley is also the base of the Hezbollah (Party of God) and they can be seen throughout the area.
The range is very high with several peaks over 2500m. Sunny when we left Beirut, heavy fog on the range, even snow on the edge of the road at the high point of the pass. The previous week the roads in the valley were blocked due to snow.
The World Heritage listed site of Baalbek, the “Sun City” of the ancient world, is arguably the most impressive Roman site in the Middle East. Built on an extravagant scale that outshone anything in Rome.
The ruins of Baalbek date from Roman times in the 1st century BC. The six remaining columns are each 20m high. Also, the Temple of Bacchus is wonderfully preserved. The pictures will describe this site better.
The Christians in Lebanon celebrate Easter this weekend; so today is Good Friday. Also, being a Friday it is the holy day for Muslims. Thus most shops are closed.
The military seem to be every few kilometres; all with rifles or machine guns. Lots of military trucks and tanks in convey.
On the return we continued the tour around Beirut – a city of contrasts. Cosmopolitan and glitzy in parts and a bombed out shell of its former self in others. Still crazy drivers and the only traffic lights I saw are in the city centre – but not as crazy as the Egyptians. Many of the cars are expensive new Mercs and BMWs.
Lebanon is another country worth a longer return.