Lebanon – South, Tyre, and Lebanese Drivers
Going to places that are not on Google and other offline maps is always interesting. I put in the Geographic coordinates in my GPS and set off to the areas I could go without requiring special permission from the Lebanese army.
During the morning breakfast, I met a group of 4, possibly Swiss staying at our hotel. They had tried to go to areas that need special permission, and as they didn’t have that paperwork, were turned back.
Beaufort Castle, or Qala’at al-Shaqif was the first stop. Not having turn by turn directions and driving on new roads created after the war meant I’d have to use my homing instincts in giving directions to my husband, some road were tight dead-ends which were extremely hard to reverse out of. Asking for directions doesn’t help. I don’t speak french and knew some Quranic Arabic. Anyone I asked directions from was puzzled when I didn’t respond in Arabic (I was wearing a black abaya). I barely managed to explain I was an “Ajnabi” – literally stranger (to here).
The castle was deserted which gave it’s charm. It overlooked the south from a dizzying height – I was glad I visited as it was definitely off the beaten track.
Mleeta, again was on no maps or guide books that I had, and using Geographic coordinates and homing instincts to make my way. Mleeta is a Hezbollah touristic site not in the special permission zone. It had a tank with it’s middle nose turned and hidden bunkers. Interestingly, I spotted a few Europeans as well. Listening to the Azan was a bit surprising as it had a few lines I haven’t heard before. I suppose Shia azan is different.
We had seen enough Roman sites in Greece, but a few more won’t hurt so went to see two in Tyre – The Ruins (Hippodrome) and a few ancient pillars by the sea which were beautiful.
We met another Swiss couple (whom we saw again in Beirut and then in Byblos later on) which was nice.
Having done the south, we had breakfast alone the next morning with the tastiest Lebaneh ever!
Search for the soap museum was an interesting experience. We know soap is called Saboun, and when we asked anyone about Saboun museum, we either got soap, or weird looks. Eventually someone told us the Arabic word for museum is “mat’haf” which helped up ask for directions along the way correctly.
We went to Beit-ud-din and despite having a Cedars Reserve entrance right next to it, opted to go for what the guidebook said was “the most scenic” one.
To my horror my husband was driving along 30ft high walls of snow on both sides and in some places the car wouldn’t go forward, so I had to get out so my husband would reverse near the barrier less plunge of a few hundred feet at the edge of the road before hitting the race to overcome the steep curve.
Lebanese drivers are the most careless drivers in the world! Twice – people just reversed into our parked car and said “it’s nothing”. It meant we had to waste two hours with the car company so they could sort out the insurance. The drivers regardless of age (first time it was a driver on a bus), religion (second time it was a girl on a BMW X5), location (mountains and Byblos), they’re all the same – unless it’s a family with kids – then they’re sane.
An interesting picture i took at Beit-ud-din, for the pleasure of my readers eyes;