Cedars, Baalbek & Anjar
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Lebanon is a small country with everywhere easily accessible. The areas inland are all called the mountain and the scenery to anywhere including The Cedars and Baalbek are grand, to say the least.
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I woke up early to make the most of my day and headed to the Cedars, the Holy Cedars, Cedars of God or The Cedars of Lebanon, whichever you prefer. These grand forests provided timber to 6 mega empires throughout history from Phoenicians to Romans to Ottoman Empire and I had to see it despite being told it required a detour.
The first mini-break was a quick stop on the road to see the fortress of Mseilha. Alone mountain in the middle of a vast valley makes it a weirdly beautiful spot. It is quite ruined though or I’d definitely try to get to it besides the lack of time.
Next spot on the way was a special one, Bsharri al Ariz; the village of Khalil Gibran. Right from the first view, you believe a place this beautiful had to have Gibran or maybe my mind went into an overdrive of romanticism. I passed through the village, took all the air on and then continued driving to the Cedars.
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I didn’t go into the Gibran museum because frankly the Khalil Gibran I know doesn’t need clothes, housing or material possessions, he is immortal. Feel free to pop in, I have heard it is quite good.
I arrived at the cedars quite hungry and after some food in a café opposite the entrance, rested with my green tea and then headed in.
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The cedars forests that spanned hectares are now confined to a small patch of land. I wasn’t sure whether to be happy about getting here or at the very-soon death of this beautiful treasure. I did both. A walk around, some rest and some hope of a conversation with the God, I made my way to the exit and drove away towards Baalbek.
Baalbek is at a drive of an hour and a half away with some more winding roads. I arrived and headed straight to the Roman ruins. In my head, I’d spend some time, see some ruins and head out to Anjar further into the mountains. But there’s a reason so many people head there, the ruins are very different from the usual broken walls and a few shards and sculptures lying about. There are entire mega temples very well persevered. It needs at least 2-3 hours to marvel at the size of these ruins. I have never actually realised how gran Roman architecture was until I got here.
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It was starting to get late and I had yet to cover Anjar so I headed to the city. Another hour’s drive and I was in the town but after Baalbek, frankly, the Roman ruins were somewhat unimpressive but that’s no reason not to visit. Anjar has another speciality. They have some grand restaurants where people come all the way from Beirut and Tyre to enjoy the food. They do the best meat in the whole country and I certainly will give them credit for some of the best meat I have had during my trip.
A delicious dinner later, I headed back to Beirut quite impressed about what I had seen today…
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