5 Places to See in Lebanon

After recovering from our jet-lag, we set out to explore as much of Lebanon in 10 days we possibly could.
Luckily, Joy was sweet enough to drive us everywhere which saved us the hassle of figuring out public transportation. We did use the bus system in Achrahfieh a few times, which was actually surprisingly easy and straightforward IF you know Arabic. It was also extremely cheap, being only 1000 Lira (.66 ¢) to ride.
We didn’t end up going to a few cities I was really looking forward to seeing. But I know my limits and if a local is telling you that its not safe to go there, I generally listen! Due to this, we were unable to visit Tripoli in the north, Baalbek in the Baqaa Valley (which I’m still kinda wishing I went to anyways because it looks INCREDIBLE) and Tyre in the south. All of these places are just reasons for me to return.
1 . Beirut
Raouche “Pigeon Rocks”
Beirut is as beautiful as people say and more. Its the area we explored the most so this section definitely has the most information!
To See & Do: Raouche Rocks, Souks of Beirouth, ABC Mall, The Blue Mosque (Al-Amin), American University of Beirut, Beach Resorts, Zaitunay Bay, Shrine of Harissa & Jeita Grotto (which pictures aren’t allowed of).
ABC mall in Achrahfeih has stores for all price ranges. 
Souks of Beirouth definitely caters to the rich. But fun to was around nonetheless.
Zaitunay Bay
Souks of Beirouth
Also it’s key to know that Lebanon’s government has privatized nearly every single beach. So in order to catch some rays in your swimsuit, you have to pay a local hotel or resort. To my understanding, there is a public beach in the south near Tyre that is really well-known, and one in Byblos!
We spent the equivalent of $21.00 (33,000 LBP) to spend an afternoon at the Riviera Hotel Beirut on Paris Street. It was okay. I thought it was way too expensive for the amenities and I was honestly just annoyed there wasn’t a public beach.
But the amenities of the resort were nice, drinks were priced as expected, and they have towels for rent!
2. Byblos (Jbeil)
I’m honestly so upset I didn’t spend more time here. We did an afternoon here and then headed home as the sun went down.
I’ve been in quite a few Middle Eastern souks… the Byblos souk was like nothing I’ve ever seen. It had the old architecture and cobblestones running the streets, but every store was selling modern clothes and trinkets. There were maybe 2 or 3 shops selling ancient/authentic artifacts but for the most part people were selling Nikes and Adidas out of an ancient storefront! Not exactly my favorite souk, but definitely memorable.
I did like that there were ancient pillars still standing and a covering over the walk way inside. This trip, was in late July and was HOT. Shade was my best friend!
My favorite part was the Byblos sunset on the water.
There were kids standing in the shallows catching crabs and tiny minnows. We grabbed some fresh juice in the souk and found a spot on the ancient sea-wall and watched the sun kiss the horizon.
3. Bcharre / Kadisha Valley (Valley of the Saints)
I wish I had a bigger camera with stronger lenses, because the images I could have captured at these places would have been incredible.
I didn’t get any pictures of the town of Bcharre itself, but if you’re considering going on your trip to Lebanon, don’t even think twice. It is the most picturesque, fairytale town I have ever seen. Here’s a picture I had to snag off google.
It sits on the edge of the valley. As we drove around from one side to the other, I stared out the window the entire time with my mouth wide open. Hence, why I didn’t get any good pictures! Living in the moment is good sometimes too, I guess.
The only picture I got of Old Lady of Diman Church in Bcharre
Other Things To Do:  Khalil Gibran’s home (Author of ‘The Prophet’) & Mar Lichaa. Mar Lichaa is a medieval monastery sitting inside the cliff of the Valley of the Saints.
View from inside the monastery doors into the Valley of the Saints
4. Saida
I feel as if Sidon may be overlooked when planning a trip to Lebanon because it wasn’t on my radar when we were looking at places to see! But Joy has family there and she wanted to take us, and it was absolutely beautiful.
Saida is a muslim majority city in the south of Lebanon with the souks being more traditional.
We ate an amazing spread for breakfast and then went to the ancient sea castle off the coast.
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This was from the top of the castle looking out at the small boats that still regularly used the harbor.
We decided to take our chances and barter for a boat trip out to a little island off the coast! For 10,000 LBP each, we took off.
The heat was intense, but the views were worth it.
And lastly..
5. The Cedars of Lebanon
The drive up the mountain from Kadisha Valley was beautiful in of itself.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves!
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The Lebanese are very proud of their Cedars. They said that the tops of the trees are flattened because they rise so tall they can see God, and flatten at the sight of how powerful God is. Hence “the Cedars of God!”

Are you thinking of visiting Lebanon? 

First stop – BEIRUT!

After a long three years of not traveling, I finally graduated and spent six weeks traveling throughout the Middle East. With three years of Arabic under my belt, it was my first traveling experience that I could finally communicate and comfortably travel in another region!
To start – I did so much research on Lebanon before traveling there. I found maybe two bloggers who went to Lebanon in the last few years. Both of which were not Americans, and definitely weren’t women. So, if anything, I hope this blog post is especially helpful for women who are looking to visit!
This blog post is dedicated to Beirut – more specifically Achrahfieh, where we stayed for the duration of the trip.
After a 15 hour flight from Dallas to Qatar, a 9 hour layover, and then a 4 hour flight to Beirut, we landed at Rafic-Hariri airport.
From research online, we (my friend Marcus who traveled with me during the 6 weeks) were told we would have to pay a visa fee landing in Beirut. We talked to 7 or 8 different airport employees (even in Arabic) and none of them knew what we were talking about. They waved us through with out any fees saving us from what we thought would be about a $20 visa fee.
Our time in Lebanon was a little different from those who travel on a whim. Marcus had a friend, Joy, who moved back to Beirut a mere week before we arrived. Honestly, she is the only reason we would have seen anything of significance. She drove us around and shared her family, food, culture, and hospitality with us. Similarly, my Arabic professor at the University of Arkansas is from Lebanon and his brother just so happens to be the Provost at The American University of Science and Technology. This connection got us a free place to stay at the AUST dormitories. Although not the best lodging, it was free and gave us more money to spend on other things.
This was the view outside my dorm window. The bullet holes and shelling from the civil war are even more noticeable against the backdrop of more modern apartment buildings going up next door.
I actually really like the architecture of Beirut. Ugly and somewhat scary to most, I see it as living history. It tells a clear story and serves as a daily reminder to the past atrocities  and hardships that Lebanon has, and is still enduring.
The rolling hills of Lebanon are indescribable. Alongside having incredible views from all angles, it is seemingly populated on every square inch. Much of this is due to the heavy burden of Palestinian and (now) Syrian refugees that Lebanon houses, but it is also because Lebanon has some absolutely stunning pieces of property. My favorite view was the fog covering the bay of Beirut from the top of Joys house in the mountains.
The first few days of this trip we took to get acclimated and sleep off the jet-lag. After that, we explored the more touristy sites Lebanon has to offer! One of my favorite was Raouche, or Pigeon Rocks off the coast of Beirut.
We tried to sit at a cafe and drink some beer while overlooking the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, it’s little things like this that are made into political or religious statements in Lebanon. According to Joy, the restaurants that didn’t serve alcohol were making a statement that they were siding with Hezbollah – an ultra conservative Shii’a militant group focused in the south of Lebanon. Although Hezbollah does have a lot of power in the region and one of their central ideologies is “anti-west,” I felt nothing but safe while being here. Whether that be because I was with a guy while traveling, or because Joy lives there and knew where/where not to take us, everyone I met was more than hospitable.
Seriously though…. Lebanon is an incredible country with beautiful people.
Oh… and we went to an Avicii concert on day three and I HAVE NEVER HAD SO MUCH FUN.
But seriously, there were way too many incredible things going on in Lebanon during my trip to only have one post about it. So here’s just a quick look!
If you’re thinking of going to Lebanon… book that ticket! You won’t regret it.