Hear about things to do when you travel to Lebanon as the Amateur Traveler talks to Vanessa Hobeika about her native country of Lebanon.
Vanessa says, “I do think that the main reasons for anyone to travel to Lebanon would be the element of surprise and how unexpected the whole Lebanon experience will be to them. I live in the U.S., and I have been to a lot of places. I know how many misconceptions there are about the Middle East and about Lebanon. And every person that I know who has visited Lebanon for the first time has said that they did not expect to see any of this. First of all, the diversity. This is a country that has been colonized by over 17 civilizations. There’s a lot of diversity in terms of the cultures that you see there. There are 18 religious sects in Lebanon, and with each come habits, lifestyle, the type of food that they eat. On some streets in Lebanon, you find a couple of churches, and then you can walk 5 minutes away, and you’ll see mosques and all this co-habits in a really wonderful way that I am sure will be very interesting for any person who visits the country.”
Vanessa starts us in the capital of Beruit. She directs us to a few museums but also recommends the nightlife, which she thinks is better than New York City (where she lives) or Berlin. You can stroll along the Corniche or try the restaurants along the Mar Mikhaël. You can visit the large Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque or visit churches that have foundations dating back to the 5th century.
After Beruit, Vanessa sends us south to the cities of Tyre and Sidon (??r and Sayda). These are ancient cities that date back to the Phoenicians and earlier. According to Herodotus, Tyre was founded in the year 2750 B.C. Tyre has the ruins of a Roman Hippodrome, which is a UNESCO site. Vanessa also says the cities are known these days for their great sweet desserts.
Next, we head to the Chouf District. One of the sects you can find in this area are the Druze, who believe in a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion separate from Islam and Christianity. In the Chouf, you can find one of the largest forests of Cedars of Lebanon. Vanessa also recommends a visit to the Beiteddine Palace, which is a 19th-century Ottoman palace.
As we head to the northeast, we come to the Beqaa Valley, which is a fertile valley in the mountainous country where much of the agriculture comes from including Lebanon’s wine production. The UNESCO site of Anjar is also in the valley, which has the ruins of a palace from the Umayyad Caliphate. The UNESCO site of Baalbek is also in the valley, which has the large, well-preserved Roman Temples of Bacchus and the Temple of Jupiter.
Vanessa recommends a visit to the seaside city of Byblos, which has been continuously occupied for 7,000 years. She also recommends a visit to the Cedars of God and to Mount Lebanon.
Lebanon is a small country (smaller than Connecticut) where you can easily ski on Mount Lebanon and swim in the Mediterranean Sea on the same day. You can find ancient history and modern nightlife. And you can find some of the best food in the Middle East.
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Cedars of God
Music Hall (Beirut)
The Grand Factory
National Museum of Beirut
Musée National de Beyrouth
Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque
Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve (Barouk Forest)
Our Lady of Lebanon
Contact Tourleb to learn more about how you can visit Lebanon AmateurTraveler.com/tourleb
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About Travel to Paraguay – Episode 709 Jeff wrote:
Comments on Paraguay.
I was there in 2009. Paraguay is such an undiscovered jewel. The rolling green hills (no mountains like the Sierras or Rockies) and agricultural farms (tea and sunflowers) in between the pine forests and palm groves. The roads are good except for all their speed bumps (“loma de burro” or hump of the burro) and roadside squatter tent cities (these may be gone). The prices were one-third of that in Brazil, virtually no tourists at the tourist spots, and people extremely friendly even if English is really a foreign language. As you mentioned the primary language is their native Guaraní then German (even before Spanish)! German farmers and Mennonites settled in the country before their German cousins fled to it at the end of the Second World War. Itaipu Dam is considered one of the seven Modern Wonders of the World. Try the local catfish called Surubi. Bella Vista is famous for its teas especially the sugar and milk “cocido.” You mentioned the Missions. They have a mission trail, the Jesuit Route, in South America not unlike the California Missions. Take in a Folkloric show with the Paraguayan harp. Paraguay has their own beautiful harp. And, Paraguayan lace is extremely colorful and handcrafted. I highly recommend Paraguay for a vacation; apparently the Vikings were the first tourists (google it)!
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