Five weeks into life in Beirut I got a part-time job doing what I’ve always done to support myself while studying in the UK: bar and waitressing work. After a brief chat with one of the three young owners of Secteur 75, a new late night bar and restaurant in Beirut’s up-and-coming Mar Michael area, I agreed to start training on the bar three nights a week.
Despite the somewhat terrifying experience of my first trip to the Valley of the Saints it is such a beautiful place that when my aunt Chantal, who loves hiking in the mountains, came to visit me I simply had to take her there.
We spent the first couple of days of her visit in and around Beirut, drinking tea and eating biscuits and smoking argileh on the corniche watching the sunset. We went on a day trip to Byblos, which, along with Damascus, claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, believed to have been founded in 5000BC. Continue reading →
The Qadisha Valley in Northern Lebanon is often referred to as the Valley of the Saints, due to its enormous concentration of monasteries and hermitages, some of which date back to the 4th century AD. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty, the valley itself rising steeply upwards from the river, its lower slopes covered in pine forests, fringed with a high rocky cliff above which small towns perch precariously on the edge of the deep gorge. Above these rise Lebanon’s highest peaks, reaching heights of 3000m above sea level.
On our first trip to the valley Everitte and I took a minibus from Tripoli to Bsharry, the birthplace of the famous Lebanese artist, poet and writer Khalil Gibran. With a population of 13,000 Bsharry is one of the biggest towns in the Qadisha valley, Continue reading →