My third and final day had finally arrived, and I had saved the two most highly-recommended sights for my morning tour. I woke up with a light fog in my head. I had ended up staying out a little late, celebrating my new tattoo. Dang it, my arm felt like a sunburn. When I booked everything, they made sure to let me know that I needed to be fully packed before I was picked up.
I finished getting my stuff together and descended to the lobby to check out. Another rickety van arrived a little late, but whatever. We headed back to the Nakhal headquarters where I was re-reminded that I needed to have all my stuff packed. The lady also informed me that I could just ride in the second van alone since the other van was already packed. PRO: Bus to myself. CON: No guide to explain stuff. Sure whatever, let’s go. The driver sensed my breakfast pangs I guess, so he stopped and picked up a zaatar for each of us. I gave him my other apple in return.
Our first stop was the Jeita Grotto. The caverns ended up as a finalist for the New 7 World Wonders. The caves are a source of pride to many Lebanese citizens, for obvious reasons. They are absolutely gorgeous and awe-inspiring. I am lucky to have seen them. The caves have a pretty strict “No Picture” policy. I stowed my GoPro, but I snuck my phone in. What harm can one picture do, right? I snapped my shot… Then the guilt set in… Deeper and deeper. It made it so difficult to marvel at the beauty I was witnessing. The upper cave is absolutely HUGE! And I could barely enjoy it.
I will write more about this when I get to my trip to the Sistine Chapel, but I will refrain from taking this kind of picture, going forward.
We made our way down to the lower cave, boarded our boat, and motored out into the calm water. I am happy we went early in the morning. It was so peaceful and relaxed. After we docked, we headed out to the Guardian Statue.
As we walked out, three buses full of tourists were emptying into the parking lots. Ugh. Thank goodness we were out of there.
After we left, we headed to the oldest, continually inhabited city on the earth. Since 5000 BC, tribes of people have lived in this site. It is difficult to see this many different cultures and buildings and history collide in such a small place. It truly is a magnificent place.
It was cool to learn how each culture used elements from the previous occupants to build their buildings and structures. After the tour, I wandered the streets of the little town to see that it was mainly just Chinese-made replica trinkets. My ride was ready, so we headed to the airport.
I was quite happy with everything I was able to do and see in Lebanon in such a short time. If you have been considering a trip, I strongly recommend it. This place will forever live in my memory. In addition, I will not longer break the no picture rules. The world does not revolve around me… There are rules, this isn’t Nam.