Earthquakes and tarantulas – Lebanon’s unexpected extras

Last night after nine months in Beirut two unexpected things happened which freaked me out. I am used to worrying about the normal things: money, work deadlines, walking home by myself at night – but then up popped two things I had (perhaps foolishly) not anticipated.

Firstly at ten o’clock last night I was in a fourth floor flat in Gemmayzeh, babysitting and watching a DVD, when I felt the sofa rocking under me. The dog was some way away and couldn’t possibly have moved it and I was alone in the house. I got up and walked around it, trying to work out what had happened, then decided I must have imagined it. I sat back down and a minute later the same thing happened. I realised that the sofa couldn’t moving by itself – which meant that the building must be moving, which meant – earthquake!

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Crossing half a country for lunch

Last weekend once again we decided to take advantage of the sun and head down south for the day. The restaurant we had discovered on a previous trip to Tyre with my family was so lovely, perched by a lighthouse and practically in the Mediterranean, that Alex, Renko, Everitte and I decided it was worth the 5 hours of travel time in rickety old service taxis to go there for an open air lunch.

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The Hidden Treasures of Tyre and a meeting with Mr. Hezbollah

Sunset over the Roman ruins

A few days before Christmas we took my parents and my brother to the South of Lebanon, to the ancient city of Tyre, or Soor, to give it its Arabic name. Like Baalbek, one of Lebanon’s major tourist attractions, Tyre is on the foreign office warning list, which advises against all but essential travel in Lebanon south of the Litani River, due to its proximity to the Israeli border. Continue reading

Return to the Qadisha Valley

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