Sunday, January 1, 2017

Lebanon September 2016

So I'm waaaay behind in blogging and I'm going to try to do a quick catch-up over the next few days just focusing on the highlights of the last 4 months- which is basically just places I traveled. I've been so busy this school year with work and school work that I haven't had much time for other things, but if I remember something interesting I did this first half of the school year I'll blog about it.

At the start of September I went to Lebanon. I actually went for an IB workshop for professional development. It just happened to be right before the Eid holiday and I was able to get approval to go- normally taking time right before a holiday is not allowed. This made it so I could attend the workshop and actually get to see some of Lebanon.

A HUGE bonus was the fact that my friends Alexa and Eric, co-workers from my time in South Korea, just started working in Beirut. When I messaged them that I would be there for a workshop they graciously invited me to stay with them. This turned out to be more amazing than we realized because it turned out that my workshop was a block away- a 2 minute walk. I actually couldn't have got a hotel closer.

The workshop was really good and it was so good to spend time with Alexa and Eric. Like I said, we worked together in Korea but we also travelled together a couple of times and we all went to a job fair for international schools in South America together. None of us got jobs at that fair but it was so nice to have friends to go through the first job fair experience with. (job fairs are kinda crazy and I'm off to another one in a couple of weeks) Alexa and Eric are foodies so they made sure we ate at really good places. I don't remember the names of any of them, but they were good. I'm clearly not a foodie or I would remember.

After my workshop was finished I had a couple days to do some sight seeing with Alexa and Eric. The first day, we saw things around Beirut, like the farmer's market and museum. Funny story: one night we went out to eat and randomly ran into some of my co-workers from Kuwait at the restaurant. It was totally random running into them and it was awesome. One of those cool, small world moments.

Then the next day their school had a scheduled trip for brunch at a winery. A couple of teachers from my school had arrived in Lebanon for the Eid holiday and we all crashed the wine tour. (different teachers from the ones we ran into at the restaurant) The food was good and it was nice to see the scenery of Lebanon-- very different from Kuwait, like, they actually have green and mountains. It was also fun to hang out with other international school teachers in a different country.

On the way home we stopped at some ruins. It was funny because while we were there an ice cream truck showed up and a wedding party drove through. It's kinda in the middle of nowhere so that seemed pretty random. I've since discovered that we missed a whole section of those ruins. My friends from here have gone since and had we just gone down the mountain a little further there was more to see including columns and stuff.

On my last full day we hired a guide and went to see Anjar and Baalbek- both UNESCO Work Heritage Sites. These are pretty close to the Syrian boarder (we were 2km away at one point) so it's best to go with a guide. There were a lot of check points and a lot of refugee camps, but I felt safe the whole time.

Anjar is the ruins of an ancient city. "The city of Anjar was founded by Caliph Walid I at the beginning of the 8th century. The ruins reveal a very regular layout, reminiscent of the palace-cities of ancient times, and are a unique testimony to city planning under the Umayyads." (UNESCO website) It was very interesting and it just continues to amaze me at how these cities were built and how they functioned in their time.

Baalbek is "Known as the Heliopolis or ‘Sun City’ of the ancient world, Baalbek’s ruins comprise the most impressive ancient site in Lebanon and are arguably the best preserved in the Middle East. The temples here, which were built on an extravagant scale, have enjoyed a stellar reputation throughout the centuries yet still manage to maintain the appealing air of an undiscovered wonder due to their semi-rural setting."
(Read more:
Baalbek was breath taking. It was HUGE! And rather then the ruins of an ancient city it's actually the ruins of ancient temples for worship. The scale of things is what really blew me away there. We also had the opportunity to purchase Hezbolla t-shirts outside Baalbek. While I did consider it for Christmas presents, we ultimately passed on that one.

Sadly, that's all I had time for. There's SO MUCH MORE to see in Lebanon, so much history there. Not sure I'll get the chance, but totally some place I would return to.
The view from my friend's apartment- that's the Mediterranean right there.
One day after my workshop I walked the Corniche and took photos of people fishing.
I even saw a sea turtle! 
Fishing and hooka/sheesha

This was from Alexa and Eric's house. I was totally afraid I was going to see that man fall to his death. 

Farmer's market

bullet holes on buildings

This reminded me of Paris-- a very beige Paris

The most interesting part of this museum is how the preserved the artifacts during the war.
Read about it here:

The damage in the bottom corner was from a sniper during the war. 

The baby holding the bird means something but I totally forgot.. :(
But I thought the writing on this was really cool- so old. 

a fresco

more ancient writing

This confused me.... 

a stair bench

the winery we had brunch at 

old ruins on the way home from the winery

random ice cream truck

beautiful view from the ruins

beautiful sunset on the way home

Syria is on the other side of those mountains (we got much closer than this) 

On the road to Damascus. 

Welcome to Anjar in English, Arabic, and Armenian. 

So that layer of smaller stones is to give the structure the ability to move and not fall during an earthquake.
Pretty darn clever. 

Crossword in Armenian. 

Refugee camp


The pink granite is from Egypt. 

Look at the size! 

See the people at the corner of the temple? 

These columns are amazing and have never fallen. 


Notice the details in the ceiling. 

wine glass... not really. Some kind of footing for something. 

That's part of the ceiling you see in other pictures that has fallen. HUGE! 

again- the size!

top part smoothed out, bottom part pre-smoothing

How they might have moved these MASSIVE blocks. 

I thought this bathroom sign was funny- which way do you pee? 

There were a few random clowns and costumed people on the side of the road selling things to kids-
not creepy at all, right? 

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