Meet the charming Lebanon

I am so happy to finally share with you my impressions about charming Lebanon. Since this was a spontaneous trip, my friend Vukica and I didn’t prepare for it in advance. Surely, we knew a few places we would like to visit, but that was it. We decided to go with a flow. And it turned out to be the best solution. I had a wonderful time there and everything was beyond my expectations. 😊

So, let me introduce this country to you.

Lebanon is a small country in the Middle East, however a country of great diversity. With a great variety of religions, languages, ancient cities, historical places, cedar forests, spectacular landscapes, Mediterranean Sea coastline, friendly people and so much more, it is a country worth visiting.

Good to know before going:

Capital city: Beirut

Languages: Arabic – official, English and French widely spoken

Currency: Lebanese pound (LBP), US dollars widely accepted

Time zone:  GMT +2 hours

Flight time: Belgrade → Beirut ∼ 2 hours 35 minutes

Map - Belgrade to Beirut

As usual, I will try to transfer my impressions to you about people I met, places I visited and things I did when I was there few months ago.

So, let’s get started..

People

We met sooo many amazing and friendly people, and I can say we made new friends in just a couple of days we spent there. That’s how wonderful people are there and that’s why this is at the top of my list. They were great hosts and made sure we visited and met as much as we could of Lebanon for that short period of time. 😊

Beside locals, we met so many amazing people from Serbia as well. They came to Lebanon to attend Beirut Unisports Festival. They are super funny and Vukica and I had a wonderful time exploring Lebanon with all of them. So, in general, people I met there are my biggest impression from this vacation. 😊

 

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Harissa

Harissa is a village in the mountain of Lebanon, about 25 km from Beirut and at a 600 m altitude. The Harissa Hill is well known for the statue of Virgin Mary called Our Lady of Lebanon – a twenty-ton bronze statue built in the 19th century. Inside the base of the statue is a little chapel, and outside you can find circular stairs that leads to the top.

You can reach Harissa by car or from the coastal city of Jounieh by a ten-minute cable car (known as Téléphérique) ride.

This was the first place we visited, and that magnificent view was the enough reason I fell in love with this country. 😊 I think I can never get tired of the majestic views like that one. Make sure not to miss this place on your visit to Lebanon.

 

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Byblos

This ancient city was the first city built by the Phoenicians. Byblos, considered as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, is UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s an authentic historical place with pretty fishing port, remains of the old city, Crusader castle, churches, souk – old market known for its souvenirs, crafts and fish fossils.

By walking through the city you will get impression of walking through history, even though it is nowadays a mixture of modern and traditional.

 

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Saida/Sidon

Saida or Sidon is the third largest city of Lebanon, located on the Mediterranean coast. This is also one of the ancient cities that has a fascinating and unique history. First thing we’ve visited was the Sea Castle built by Crusaders in the 13th century. The entrance ticket was around 2 EUR. It was really nice experience exploring the ruins of the fortification, to climb the towers and have a beautiful view from the top.

 

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The Sidon Souk is also something you have to experience. The streets of Souk retain ancient origins but functioning nowadays as an actual market for locals. You can find there bakers, grocers, butchers, but other goods, too, including souvenirs. This colorful markets called souks are typical for Middle East countries, but in every country I’ve visited so far, I experienced it differently.

 

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Beaches

Since we were there in March, it wasn’t bathing season yet, but I couldn’t resist myself and had to feel sand between my toes. 😊 In my opinion beaches are made for good vibes, fun and joy, so, yeah, beach is definitely my happy place. We visited two beaches, but there are a lot more, with cool and fancy beach clubs and resorts. Hope I’ll be back to check them out. 😊

 

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Cedar 

The cedar forests of Lebanon are considered as the oldest documented forests in history and represent an important part of the cultural heritage of the people there. Cedar is one of the Lebanon’s most recognizable trademarks, since it’s featured on the national flag. I think Lebanon is one of a few countries where you can enjoy yourself at the beach and ski in the mountains on the same day. So cool. 😊

And yes, after visiting beaches, I also had a chance to enjoy the snow at Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve. And yes, it was very cold there, considering the fact I was wearing ballet flats that day. Brrrr! Obviously, I wasn’t prepared well for that experience, but all in all, it was fun.

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Beiteddine Palace Museum

Beiteddine palace was finished in 1818. after 30 years of construction. The outside of the palace looks ordinary, but inside you can find objects from the Phoenician period to the 19th century, carved cedar wood ceilings, decorated floor tiles, collection of mosaics, reception rooms, etc. It’s located approximately 45 km from Beirut. Although Beiteddine Palace functions as the presidential summer residence, the main areas can be visited during the summer, too.

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Food

When you travel somewhere, especially if you travel to a country totally different from yours, make sure to try local food. You will be surprised how eating habits vary from region to region. But, it is also one of the ways of meeting traditions and culture of new country.

I was really looking forward to try original Lebanese hummus, as I tried it before and loved it. They eat it with pita bread, and the taste is delicious. They served almost everything at once (don’t have three separate dishes as we have in Serbia) and during the meal bring a few more dishes. Beside hummus, we tried falafel, fattoush, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush and many other dishes (I forgot all the names). Majority of Lebanese cuisine consists of vegetables, rice, poultry, lamb, etc. with different herbs and spices.

 

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Beirut

Beirut – the capital and the largest city of Lebanon is a cosmopolitan city full of contrasts. You can see churches next to mosques, skyscrapers versus small houses, buildings destroyed in the war and a lot of new construction areas, etc. As a place where East meets West, it’s very culturally diverse and multilingual place.

You will have a chance to read more about what to see and do in Beirut in one of my future posts. 😊

 

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Even though it is a small country, Lebanon has a lot to offer. I would highly recommend visiting it. Trust me, you won’t regret it. 😊

I am so happy and grateful I had a chance to visit it. When we decided to go to Lebanon, I couldn’t even imagine how great time I’m gonna have and how amazing people I am gonna meet. Thank you all guys for having us, hope we will see each other again soon.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post, as much as I enjoyed writing it! 😊

Do you have favorite country in the Middle East? Let me know in the comment box below which country I need to visit in your opinion.

 

1 Comment

  1. July 13, 2017 / 12:35 pm

    Great, it is the perfect post to form an idea about Lebanon 🙂

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