Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Faraya

How am I doing in Music? Introspection on my Initiation to music

Posted on January 27, 2009

I was living in Lebanon since 1981, after a stint of 4 years in the US for higher education and a year in Africa. And I had a job that I could Not stand and had no idea what were my functions. Sort of “Are you feeling redundant?” kind of impression.

It was during that period that I tried to learn musical instruments that I was never initiated to in my upbringing. Thus, I purchased an accordion and a classical guitar, but gave up quickly.

I enrolled for music lessons on Saturday mornings at the University of Kaslik, but had no musical ears or talent in that art. And I bitterly learned that it was too late for me to acquire any musical skills.

I recall vividly that the class of “solfege” got very excited as my turns approached for reciting musical codes.  The laughter started before I started and it grew to a deafening crescendo.  The next room music teachers used to immediately come in and join the merry.

I didn’t believe the students were serious: I was damned sure that my voice was correct since my ears were telling a different story. I was 100% sure that my “silent” recitations were perfect.

At long last I had to fake that my voice was not suitable and started preempting laughter. Well I simply agree, there is no coordination between my brains specialized in music and my ears.

Voice performances in my head were valid when Not vocalized. 

Actually, I envy the kids who vocalize songs without understanding a word of the lyrics. Sang lyrics do Not match my comprehension of the written lyrics. Though I do Not mind dancing to the rhythms.

My musical instruments didn’t go to waste; they are used by my young nieces, occasionally. They have more potentials than I. Two of them nieces advanced in their instruments beautifully.

I enrolled in aerobics because it was the fashion; I was trying to catch up with any activity that I was denied as a kid, and trying to discover any innate skills that I could develop as a hobby.

I was to discover no genuine artistic or physical skills and blamed it on age.

I had many trips to the sky resort of Faraya; I had a second-hand Peugeot 404.

I purchased all the snow skiing equipments and outfits.  Most of these trips I took alone during weekdays when I lost my job.

The weekend trips I drove with Rose, a neighbor. I was doing my best, as taught in my initial training, but Rose intimidated me with her performance

I enjoyed swimming in the sea and covered heated swimming pools.  My best months for beaches were from mid-September to mid-November: the kids are in schools, the sand and sea water are cleaner, and I am practically “master of the location”.

How deep listening to music is an Art form? Even if you can’t understand the lyrics, as usual?

Listening to an album from start to finish? As if all the songs must be connected to deliver a story?

Many times, I just share articles to readers who might have different interests and tastes.

By RANDALL ROBERTS STAFF WRITER of Los Angeles Times. MARCH 17, 2020

What’s your favorite album? When was the last time you actually listened to it from start to finish? With intention, like you were watching a movie or reading a novel?

Clear your schedule for the next 3 hours. (Is that a new Yoga technique?)

Choose three full albums, whether from your collection or your streaming service of choice.

Put them in an ordered queue as though you were programming a triple feature (series?)

Because:

1) Musicians spend years making their albums. They struggle over syllables, melodies, bridges and rhythms with the same intensity with which you compare notes on the “Forensic Files” reboot, loot corpses in “Fortnite” or pound Cabernet during pandemics.

(L-R)- Photographs of Paul Simon, Nina Simone, Kacey Musgraves, and Sly Stone in a quadriptych to illustrate "38 life-affirming albums to get you though self-quarantine." Credit (L-R): Jim Dyson/Getty Images; Getty Images; Michael Nagle/For The Times; Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

MUSIC35 life-affirming albums to help get you through self-quarantine, according to music experts

But most of us are “half-assed” (Meaning disinterested?) when it comes to listening to albums. We put on artists’ work while we’re scrolling through Twitter, disinfecting door knobs, obsessively washing our hands or romancing lovers permitted within our COVID-free zones.

We rip our favorite tracks from their natural long-player habitat, drop them into playlists and forget the other songs, despite their being sequenced to be heard in order.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

There was a time when listeners treated the mere existence of recorded sound as a miracle. A wonder, a kind of time travel. Priests warned of early wax cylinders being tools of the devil. Vintage images from the space age show couples seated around their high-fidelity systems as if being warmed by a fireplace.

The late experimental composer and teacher Pauline Oliveros coined the phrase “deep listening” for just this practice. Defining it as a kind of “Radical attentiveness: I differentiate to hear and to listen. To hear is the physical means that enables perception. To listen is to give attention to what is perceived both acoustically and psychologically.”

A Stravinsky ballet caused a riot. The least you can do is commit to deeply listening to three full albums.

Visitors listen to music at the Los Angeles Public Library in this undated photo.

(Yalla) go dig a ditch in your backyard, put your phone in a Ziplock bag and bury it. Get comfortable on the couch, centered in the sweet spot between the speakers. No stereo system? Put on your headphones (pro-tip: Audio-Technica has become the recording studio standard) or earbuds, or lock yourself in a closet with your best bluetooth speaker. Whatever works.

Stoners will probably tell you to consume an edible an hour prior. Scotch is wonderful. (LSD is illegal.) None of it is necessary. Mindfulness is essential. Light a candle or not. Doesn’t matter, but dimmed light will change the environment for the better. (I would suggest total darkness: cosy in a tomb)

Don’t turn the volume up to 11. Set it at 8.5 and then make a pact with the voices in your head to shut the front door.

The point is to listen with your ears in the same way you read with your eyes, to absorb the flavor as you would velveteen swig of Cabernet washing over your taste buds.https://www.youtube.com/embed/3zUDcdH3OI4?feature=oembed

In 2006, the Staten Island rapper Ghostface Killah, best known as a founding member of Wu-Tang Clan, issued his fifth studio album. It’s about wine’s evil cousin, cocaine. Called “Fishscale,” the album is an hourlong, Tarantino-style action-adventure film, and one of three albums I programmed for a recent night with music.

A conceptually linked, drug-slinging series of vivid, F-bomb-dropping narratives set in the Wu-Tang cinematic universe, “Fishscale” stars Ghostface under his Tony Starks pseudonym.

Unlike the rapper’s previous albums, though, for this one he stepped away from Wu-Tang producer RZA in favor of productions by legends including J Dilla, MF Doom and Pete Rock. The move broadens the landscape.

Gmac Cash - "Coronavirus" video

MUSICPandemic pop: At home and around the world, dark-humored new songs about coronavirus go viral

Snobs will tell you that you’ll need a belt-drive turntable connected to a tube amp driving a pair of Klipsch speakers, and that the only way to truly appreciate something like “Fishscale” is to listen to the Japanese vinyl pressing or something. That’s not the point here.

Straight talk: Compact discs from the 1990s and ‘00s sound fantastic. And in a blind test you likely wouldn’t be able to distinguish between a 320k Spotify stream and a 2006 pressing of “Fishscale.”

As a writer, Ghostface is unparalleled. His love of wordplay, his urgent delivery and frantic phrasing move across bars with the singsong freedom of five-minute John Coltrane solos.

After a cuss-heavy intro, “Fishscale” commences with “Shakey Dog,” a cinematic punch akin to a car chase opening an action movie. We’re with Starks on the way to a robbery. He’s in the backseat eating fish and dipping French fries into ketchup. He drops tartar sauce on his shoe, a portent that the advancing plot might not go as planned. By the end of the song, nearly a dozen people are dead and a bullet has grazed our hero’s ear.

Across “Fishscale,” the rapper’s verses are dense with wordplay and references: cheeba weed brownies, “Sanford and Son,” fried plantains and rice, centipede stab wounds, Pyrex scholars and extract oil cut from Cuban plants.

He raps of professors at war and terry-cloth Guess shorts; of a lover, whose “voice was a slow jam, full length white mink,” who seduced him in a room scored by Barry White slow jams and with cigarette smoke that “floated when it left her throat — spelled ‘Honey’.”

As with every work of art, “Fishscale” is a portal, in its case into a space dense with action, urgency and invective. Yes, you are still sitting on the couch, but you’re also wandering in isolation through the fabric of someone else’s musical universe.

If “Fishscale” is a thriller, Aimee Mann’s 2017 album, “Mental Illness,” is an expert series of vignettes whose characters are dealing with isolation and social distancing, even if it’s not due to COVID-19. “Mental Illness” is about as far removed from “Fishscale” as “Twin Peaks” is from the “Fast & Furious” franchise.https://www.youtube.com/embed/fhThS-PJOFE?feature=oembed

The Los Angeles-based Mann is one of the city’s most eloquent songwriters, and for this insular record producer Paul Bryan and she convey a sense of gentle effortlessness. Strum-propelled waltzes augmented with subtle string arrangements (“Stuck in the Past”) ease into songs about abyss-leaning narrators. “Three thousand miles to sit in a room with a vanishing groom,” she sings on “You Never Loved Me,” a song about someone who gets ghosted after traveling to meet a fiancé.

And then there’s “Patient Zero.” A song written long before sheltering in place became standard, its opening verse reads like a portent: “They served you champagne like a hero / When you landed someone carried your bag / From here on out you’re patient zero / Smelling ether as they hand you the rag.”

Turn the volume up to 9 as Bryan’s arrangement builds. Measure by measure, he and Mann add texture: a gentle tambourine, plucked-string accents, a precisely placed kick-drum. Organized noise, made by experts in their field and recorded when the virus lay dormant in some god-forsaken bat’s innards, but resonating anew.

“Life is good / You look around and think / I’m in the right neighborhood,” Mann sings as she seizes the narrative. “But honey you just moved in,” she adds, as if predicting catastrophe. “Life is grand — and wouldn’t you like to have it go as planned?”

If it had gone as planned, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. But we are stuck inside. We don’t know for how long. There are no sports. You have been scrolling through the Netflix page for an hour now.

Give up. Let go. Things may be falling apart, but there’s still music.

On their epic 2011 double CD, “RE: ECM,” the experimental electronic producers Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer were given the keys to the vault of the lauded jazz and contemporary classical label ECM Records.https://www.youtube.com/embed/_mKa98J3HlY?feature=oembed

Onetime home to artists including Arvo Pärt, Keith Jarrett, Meredith Monk, Jan Garbarek and dozens more, ECM possesses a catalog of master recordings that contains millions of musical tones: rhythms, wails, bass hums, snare snaps, cymbal sizzles and synthetic boops and warbles.

Villalobos and Loderbauer built an abstract masterpiece from these measures. A haunting, minimal tapestry of acoustically created tones and voices that the pair then electronically recontextualized, each of the work’s 17 pieces draws from specific ECM works.

Rensenada,” for example, uses as source material jazz multi-instrumentalist and Miles Davis collaborator Bennie Maupin’s classic 1974 album “The Jewel in the Lotus.” Among the players on the recording: Herbie Hancock on electric piano, bassist Buster Williams and a trio of percussionists including Billy Hart.

“Rekondakion’s” source material is a sacred chorale by Estonian composer Pärt. Inhabiting it at full volume can be an overwhelming experience. Pärt composed the piece for the 750th anniversary of the Cologne Cathedral, but to hear it reworked by Villalobos and Loderbauer — to absorb it minus distraction, moment by measureless moment — is to be transported to a place immune to anything nature can throw at us.

Trekking to Sadd Shabrouh: A dam in Keserwan Lebanon

Note 1: Re-edit of “Trekking about Sadd Shabrouh”. Written in July, 2007 and posted in August 2009

Note 2: I opened a special category on my blog “Travel/Excursion” to collect all my trips stories.

Note 3: We have conducted an excursion in the the valley before it was inundated a couple of years before this trekking. We had enjoyed our excursion and ate at a “restaurant” there.

I woke up at 7:30 a.m. and the weather was sunny and hot.

I read the daily “Al Balad” that we received for free for an entire year as a promotion campaign. I performed my exercises and fed the chicken.

Joanna was busy calling: she was programming a walking trip to “Sadd Shabrou7” around Faraya.  Joanna was also planning to end the day at Cherries’ for karaoke night in honor of her sister Ashley’s birthday.  She asked me to join the trekking expedition and I agreed.

I packed a spare of undershirt and socks and a light rain jacket and some biscuit and peanuts and I waited for everybody to be ready.

We waited for Ashley to come back from mass because she was not aware of this “surprise” excursion.  Cedric could not go because he hurt his fingers and the skin of his feet while playing wild basketball yesterday.

We drove off in two cars. Joanna took Ashley and retrieved Tony at St. Elie Movie Theater in Antelias. William took Adrea, Chelsea, David and I.

We met at Aoun supermarket in Zouk and they purchase a few items to eat.

Adrea waited in the car in the underground parking lot because she is pretty lazy.  We resumed our travel around 2 p.m. and William picked up Hanane at her home at Ballouni and we met at Yuhanna’s house in Ajaltoun.  From there, Yuhanna drove his car and carried Joanna, Ashley, Tony and Chelsea.

We arrived and parked our cars in the monastery parking lot and started our walk after getting some information and references from a passerby.

I wore a small towel under my cap and took the lead, hunched in a comfortable stature, and distanced the straggling group for 5 minutes and stopped and took off my top clothes and dried in the sun until they joined me.

I again advanced the group because I felt that keeping a fast and steady pace is relaxing for me, otherwise I will slacken off and my back might ache from slow walking.

I tried to investigate a promising path off the beaten road which was starting to bore me. Ashley asked me to backtrack.  I figured it was a good path that ultimately would merge with the beaten road.

We waited for the rest to join us and it seems that Adrea had trouble with her shoes that she didn’t wear for quite a time.

I took the lead again and decided for another off path and William came after me, looking very frustrated and said that we should stick together as a group and keep to the road. 

William and I took shortcuts to rejoin the group and then Joanna asked a driver for the best place to sit down near fresh running water and he gave her the direction of the path that I had already climbed before William came after me.

Thus, we retraced our walk; I suggested a path among the apple groves but they decided to take short cuts and climb a hill which took my breath out and had to sit down for a couple of minutes to recover.

We reached an area with a small waterfall “shalal” and a flat rock with no trees around.

Yuhanna and Joanna decided to go down among the apple trees to investigate the area.  It was the same apple grove that I intended to cross before I was desisted from in order “to stick to plan”.

Meanwhile, William climbed the rock opposite the road to check if there is a nice area and I removed my tops and my shoes and washed my face and dipped my feet in the icy trickle of water running across the flat rock.

David stored in the icy stream the amassed small apples and pears that he gathered from the trees and we also let our water bottles cool in the water. I had a pear and enjoyed it.

While the remaining group was anxious to go down to the apple grove where Yuhanna located a “nice place” to have lunch, I felt as happy as a clam tanning in the sun, walking bare feet and cooling my feet and rubbing lavender flowers on my hands and having a smoke.

William was pounding on a stone and it turned out to be of silex and he wanted to transform it into a stone knife; he had seen a big silex stone, but when he climbed to retrieve it he could not find it again to bring it back.

Within 15 minutes, Yuhanna asked us to join and we went down to another stream of running water among the apple grove and Yuhanna was frustrated with Chelsea because she was venturing far off the group.

We had lunch. The chips were first to go and Joanna prepared us cheese sandwiches and then we ended up with the Oriole biscuits and other kinds of chocolate covered biscuits; I had also raw peanuts and kept belching for the rest of the trip.

Joanna tried her hands with the kite that she had sent to Yuhanna from London. She failed to make it fly.  David and William drenched Hanane with icy water. I had a comfortable nap while people were chatting away.

Chelsea was a pain for the group in her wandering off, climbing and jumping off walls and rocks and being “har2a”. Obviously, she was a close second to my pain in the ass behavior for discovering new paths. We stayed and rested until 6:30 p.m.

The return path among the apple groves coincided with the path that I had suggested before we climbed the hill.  I took the lead again with Tony who was anxious to terminate the trip. And I never stopped for an hour and a half.

William joined Yuhanna and Joanna to check on a camping area and Chelsea joined them.  After a while we saw Chelsea coming alone grim faced and clutching her right hand and not stopping to talk to us: she had hurt her hand and was furious with Yuhanna.

Ashley decided to walk with Chelsea for the remaining walking trip.  Ashley was even jogging in order to advance me. I kept my fast steady pace and even jogged for a short distance but could not catch up with Chelsea and Ashley. Thus, I arrived third to the parked cars.

William gave us a summary of the statistics of this trip, collected on his cellular. He said that he walked 17,000 steps and the round trip was 11 kilometers and it took us 5 hours and a half, including the resting period, and the average speed was 5 kilometers per hour as a group.

At the suggestion of Yuhanna we had dinner at “Istira7at Al 3erzal” in downtown Farayat.

I refilled many cups of hot tea. We had labheh, baked potatoes, hummus and cucumbers.  I lent Hanane my light jacket to warm up.  Chelsea would not relent and never gave the gang peace or any quietude.  Tony brought up his dish to where we were sitting William and me, at the other end of the table.

Tony said that he usually sit in front of a wall at home to enjoy what he is eating and that when in groups, people eat a lot without noticing; William agreed with Tony and I sat next to Tony and we had a cigarette (the only two smokers).

By the time we paid the bill of 40,000 LL ($25) around 10 p.m. (I didn’t pay a dime: I had none) most of the gang members were exhausted and sleepy.

They decided to drop the karaoke part and go home.  I sat in the back seat: David needs to feel entirely comfortable; William was driving.

Chelsea made herself comfortable and slept on my lap while Adrea was sleeping in the other corner, all crumpled up. David was sleeping in the front.

I was feeling good and full of energy. We arrived at 11:30 and the public electricity was still out since noon.

Mother was awake because she watched the interview with General and Deputy Michel Aoun along with Raymonde and Victor till 11:30.

I watched TV till 12:30 a.m. David slept at Ashley’s. Ashley and Joanna gave Tony ride home.

Note: In that period, Ashley and Tony were sort of boyfriend/girlfriend. They are now married with a girl.

 

TOP 25: THINGS TO SEE & DO IN LEBANON THIS SUMMER

Afqa Waterfall - Afqa

With more than 5 million tourists from all over the world expected to visit Lebanon this summer, I thought I’d put together a list of places you guys can visit. Some of you may have already visited most of the following destinations however, I can guarantee you there are a few in there that you never knew existed.

(5 million tourists is a vastly exaggerated number, even in the best of years, especially with the new car explosion this June 20)

ALSO SEE: Top 10: Beach Resorts & Bars in Lebanon

Without too much beating around the bush, here are 25 amazing things to do and see in Lebanon this summer in no particular order:

1. Baatara Gorge Waterfall – Tannourine (map)

Baatara Gorge Waterfall Tannourine

During summer the water’s flow isn’t that strong, but it’s well worth the visit. Make sure you keep an eye our for the signs as there is a designated place you can park and walk straight down to the cave. Be very careful when crossing the natural bridge though.

2. Rikky’z – Faraya (map)

 

 

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A group of friends and I discovered this place by accident while driving through Faraya. Best wrong turn I’ve ever taken.

Rikky’z holds daily brunches for approximately $66, where they supply you with all the food and alcohol you need to have the time of your life. The owners are lovely people and will go out of their way to make you feel right at home. Definitely a must add to your Lebanon bucket list.

3. Our Lady of Leabnon – Harrissa (map)

Our Lady of Leabnon Harrissa

Overlooking the city of Jounieh, the Our Lady of Lebanon status is one of the most visited touristic sites in Lebanon. Thousands of people from all backgrounds and different religions make the trip to Harissa every year.

4. Raouchè Sea Rock – Raouchè (map)

Raouchè Sea Rock Raouchè

Again, another one of Lebanon’s most popular natural landmarks, the Raouchè Sea Rock can be viewed from the top or you can head down to the water and have a water taxi spin you around and through the rocks.

5. Ceders of Lebanon – Ariz (map)

Ceders of Lebanon - Arz

Lebanon is predominately known for its cedar trees. Hency why it occupies the national flag. During summer the Ariz region is filled with tourists purchasing souvenirs, relaxing in their villas and visiting some of the most delicious restaurants.

ALSO SEE: Top 5: Beirut Nightclubs

6. Chowan Waterfall – Nahr Ibrahim (It’s a joke)

Chowan Waterfall Nahr Ibrahim

After two long hours on the road, missing turns, smashing through pot holes and thirteen pittstops, we finally made it to Chowan waterfall located at the end of Nahr Ibrahim.

7. Nahr Ibrahim (map)

Naher Ibrahim

So Nahr Ibrahim stretches for several kilometres and as you saw previously, possess some great stops. My advice, jump in a car and drive alongside the river until you see a cool spot to stop over and take a quick dip.

8. Jeita Grotto – Jeita (map)

Jeita Grotto - Jeita

So close to making it into the Wonders of the World a couple years back, Jeita Grotto is a breathtaking cave covered in limestone that have formed over thousands of years. For a few dollars, you can travel through the natural river and sneak a couple illegal photos.

9. Saydit El Nourieh (Our lady the mendicant) – Chekka, after Batroun going north(map)

Saydit El Nourieh (Our lady of Nourieh) - Batroun

Overlooking Chekka, the Our Lady of Nourieh monastery has an amazing history behind it. Head up the hill and check out the views of Chekka and Tripoli.

ALSO SEE: Top 10: Beach Resorts & Bars in Lebanon

10. Jbeil – Byblos (map)

Jbeil - Byblos 1Jbeil - Byblos 2

Possibly the oldest city in the world, Byblos hosts ancient buildings and artifacts dating back thousands of years.

The city also has an amazing old Souk dominating with lively restaurants, pubs, and clubs that’ll keep you entertained for hours. When walking through the old streets, make sure you don’t trip over the cobblestone paved walkways 😉

11. Lake Qaraoun  (man-made)– Southern Region of the Beqaa Valley (map)

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 12.18.39 am

One of the many places I’ve been meaning to visit, but have never had the chance.

Will definitely be driving here this summer with a bottle of wine, some cheese, light music and a good group of friends to just chill.

12. Temple of Jupiter – Baalbek, Beqaa Valley (map)

Temple of Jupiter - Baalbek, Beqaa Valley

I visited the ruins of Baalbek when I was younger but haven’t had the chance in the last couple of years due to the unrest in the region. God willing, if the situation in Lebanon becomes a lot safer, you should definitely visit the temple and other ruins scattered across the site.

13. Downtown Beirut – Beirut (map)

Downtown Beirut - Beirut

Where the rich and famous are seen walking the streets alongside the poor. Downtown Beirut hosts everything from store front to store front of luxurious retailer designers to some of the most prestigious hotels, restaurants and bars.

14. Bekaa Valley (map)

Bekaa Valley

Similar to Nahr Ibrahim, Beqaa Valley is a whole region that could take you a day or two to scout efficiently. The entire area has secret, yet amazing, locations embedded that’ll have you staying longer than originally planned.

15. Msaylha Castle – Chekka, North Lebanon (map)

Msaylha Castle - Chekka, North Lebanon

If you’re from the North of Lebanon you will be very familiar with this castle as you most likely pass it on average twice a day on your way to and from Jounieh or Beirut. The castle is managed by a keeper, who after tipping a couple dollars, will allow you to roam the castle freely.

ALSO SEE: Top 5: Beirut Nightclubs

16. Kefraya – Western Region of Beqaa Valley (map)

Kefraya - Western Region of Beqaa Valley

Famous for its vineyards and amazing wine, Kefraya is a must if you’re interested in taking the family or a group of friends out to a memorable lunch.

17. Afqa Waterfall – Afqa (map)

Afqa Waterfall - Afqa

I give you my word that this waterfall will be the first place I visit in Lebanon this July. I stumbled across an Instagram photo of a group of mates swimming here on my flight back to Sydney last year and will not put my mind at ease until I’m doing the exact same.

18. Taanayel Walk – Taanayel (map)

Taanayel Walk - Taanayel

I’ve penciled in this romatic walkway for a potential outfit shoot for this July. I personally adore places like this, where you can go for strolls around the greenery and free your mind from everything.

19. Sidon Sea Castle – Sidon (map)

Sidon Sea Castle - Sidon

One of the most prominent archaeological sites in the port city of Sidon, stands the Sidon Castle built around 4000 BC.

20. Al-Khiam Restaurant – Al-Khiam, South Lebanon (map)

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 12.53.39 am

Another destination I have not been able to get to due to the instability of the country. After hearing about how amazing the food is here, it must be done this year!

21. Monastery of Saint Anthony – Kozhaya, North Lebanon (map)

ALSO SEE: Top 10: Beach Resorts & Bars in Lebanon

Monestary of Saint Anthony - Kozhaya, North Lebanon

This place is filled with so much peace, quiet and serenity. The holy monastery accommodates for monks who are on the journey to become priests.

22. Yahchouch Waterfall – Yahchouch (map)

Yahchouch Waterfall - Yahchouch

Yes, another waterfall. I want to make it my mission to find the most epic waterfall in Lebanon. The Yahchouch Waterfall definitely isn’t, but it’s something!

23. Kfar-Hilda Waterfall – Kfar-Hilda (map)

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 1.48.03 am

My last water related destination, I promise. Again, an ideal location to chill with the friends overnight, cooking meat on the bonfire, telling endless jokes and just having a genuinely great time.

24. Laqlouq Mountain Range – Laqlouq (map)

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During the winter, the spectacular mountain range of Laqlouq is completely covered in snow. However during summer when the Mediterranean sun melts away all the snow, you’re left with the above view. Spectacular.

25. Mar Mikhael Stairs – Mar Mikhael, Beirut (map)

Mar Mikhael Stairs - Mar Mikhael, Beirut

Last but not least, the famous steps found through the streets of Mar Mikhael, Beirut.

These type of stairs have been seen all over the world, which brings me to my final point. Lebanon has inherited everything that other countries boast about from the nightlife, historical artefacts, hotels, restaurants, cars, people and or food.

So when you’re planning your next trip, Lebanon should be your number one ;)

Also check out:

Top 10: Beach Resorts & Bars in Lebanon

Top 5: Beirut Nightclubs

Part 5. “On the wild trails of Mount Lebanon”: To Hrajel: (Mar. 8, 2010)

          The next target town for Pierre Bared is Hrajel; the path is visible; a rare case.  He follows an irrigation canal for one kilometer; he arrives at a fork: the right path should lead to Hrajel but he prefers to investigate the left path toward the mountain; an army helicopter is over him.  Hills succeeded to hills for four hours but the objective is not behind any of them and Pierre is losing hope; he starts thinking about his three children for comfort. The water bottle is empty.  He is in the real “jurd” high altitude arid lands; then he reaches a plain with hunting bullet casings scattered all over.

          Pierre observes a giant cross on a mountain and walks toward it in 20 minutes.  He can see Hrajel from this top.  On descending the mountain he meets people drinking the national drink “arak” on a terrace; they appear to be next generation cultivators because their hands are not badly calloused: Syrian helpers work the land.  They invite Pierre to join and they roast a giant piece of meat for him and prepare him a cup of arak.  First thing first, Pierre needs to have water badly.  The “keskoun” (to your health) fuses from every corner of the table.

          Pierre resumes his walk and meets an artisan linking to the main electrical cable (system D) for energy-consuming tasks.  Pierre crosses the Faraya highway and heads toward the town of Fakra.  Two harsh hours of ascent before descending to the small town of Bekaatet Kenaan; he had to ask for directions several times.  Pierre sits in the shadow of a church; he tries to revive a dying bird.  The trail leads to a dry river bed that he takes.

Pierre  has to climb many rocks in the river bed and bypass carcasses of trucks, cars, and mounds of detritus. An hour later, Pierre realizes there is no path on the left bank; he tries the right bank for half an hour and retraces his steps. He had to try creating a path through heavily densed thorny plants. At this crucial moment his cellular rings; a certain Chamoun arriving from the USA wants to join Pierre for the remaining section of his trip. Chamoun got wind of the adventure from the guide-book association; they decided to meet in the town of Falougha in a couple of days.

          Pierre is thinking that if any harms occur to him in this location then no one will find him.  Within 45 minutes he is in front of a newly renovated convent.  Pierre traverses the convent land and comes face to face with a Syrian worker cutting trees for coal for the convent.  The next village is Wadi El Karm with red tiles, arcades, and no cement for home construction.  Pierre sit amid adolescent boys by a shop.  One of them throws his soda can on the street.  Pierre resumes his trip to Baskinta.

          He heads toward a convent hoping for night facility; a monk is having dinner outside with two women; the monk adamantly refuses Pierre to sleeping over. On his way, an older woman sells Pierre a bag of chips and an orange juice; then the woman owner arrives and gives him a plate of tabouli for free. Lebanon is the country of contrast; you walk a couple of miles and customs change. Two women are having their evening walk; one is wearing jeans and the other a veil.

          Pierre stops for a hamburger and soda and then spends the night on the terrace of a vacant building.  On the 14th day, Mtein is the target town.  Pierre passes chicken farm.  A grape-vine is climbing three floors of a building to the roof.  Welcoming gestures are deteriorating: we are far away from friendly north mountain chain with ancestral traditions.

          Quitting the asphalt road of Baskinta Pierre is confronted with a stone fabric; Syrian workers sleep in open air.  A 65 years old woman is filling a 20 liters gallon from a tiny spring; Pierre carries the gallon to her car: the new VIP owner of the nearby villa diverted the water pipe to his unoccupied residence.  Within 30 minutes he arrives at Bteghrine.  At noon, Pierre takes a pause and a guy borrows a cigarette; the discussion reverts quickly to politics: the political figure of the region has bought the allegiance everyone.

          The next town is Mrouj; an hour walk.  Pierre eats “lahem bi ajeen” and yogurt on the terrace of a bakery; he recharges his cellular.  Around 2 pm, Pierre locates a relatively clean place in the forest to have an hour nap.  On the way, a woman is cutting parsley; she halted him a moment and emerges with a sandwich for Pierre.

          From Mtein Pierre arrives at Mchikla; two young men are having lunch and smoking narguileh under a nut-tree; they invite Pierre “tfadal”; Pierre asks directions to Bzebdine.

Trekking about Sadd Shabrouh; (Written Sunday, July 22, 2007)

Note: The description of the trip is extracted from my diary

I woke up at 7:30 a.m. and the weather was sunny and hot. I read the daily “Al Balad” that we received for free for an entire year as a promotion campaign. I performed my exercises and fed the chicken.  Joanna was busy calling: she was programming a walking trip to “Sadd Shabrou7” around Faraya.  Joanna was also planning to end the day at Cherries’ for karaoke night in honor of her sister Ashley’s birthday.  She asked me to join the trekking expedition and I agreed.

I packed a spare of undershirt and socks and a light rain jacket and some biscuit and peanuts and I waited for everybody to be ready.  We waited for Ashley to come back from mass because she was not aware of this “surprise” excursion.  Cedric could not go because he hurt his fingers and the skin of his feet while playing wild basketball yesterday.

We drove off in two cars. Joanna took Ashley and retrieved Tony at St. Elie Movie Theater in Antelias. William took Adrea, Chelsea, David and I.

We met at Aoun supermarket in Zouk and they purchase a few items to eat; Adrea waited in the car in the under ground parking lot because she is pretty lazy.  We resumed our travel around 2 p.m. and William picked up Hanane at her home and we met at Yuhanna’s house in Ajaltoun.  From there, Yuhanna drove his car and carried Joanna, Ashley, Tony and Chelsea.

We arrived and parked our cars in the monastery parking lot and started our walk after getting some information and references from a passerby.  I wore a small towel under my cap and took the lead, hunched in a comfortable stature, and distanced the straggling group for 5 minutes and stopped and took off my top clothes and dried in the sun until they joined me.  I again advanced the group because I felt that keeping a fast and steady pace is relaxing for me, otherwise I will slacken off and my back might ache from slow walking.

I tried to investigate a promising path off the beaten road which was starting to bore me; Ashley asked me to backtrack.  It was a good path that ultimately would merge with the beaten road.  We waited for the rest to join us and it seems that Adrea had trouble with her shoes that she didn’t wear for quite a time.  I took the lead again and decided for another off path and William came after me, looking very frustrated and said that we should stick together as a group and keep to the road. 

William and I took short cuts to rejoin the group and then Joanna asked a driver for the best place to sit down near fresh running water and he gave her the direction of the path I had already climbed before William came after me.  Thus, we retraced our walk; I suggested a path among the apple groves but they decided to take short cuts and climb a hill which took my breath out and had to sit down for a couple of minutes to recover.

We reached an area with a small waterfall “shalal” and a flat rock with no trees around; Yuhanna and Joanna decided to go down among the apple trees to investigate the area.  It was the same apple grove that I intended to cross before I was desisted from in order “to stick to plan”.

Meanwhile, William climbed the rock opposite the road to check if there is a nice area and I removed my tops and my shoes and washed my face and dipped my feet in the icy trickle of water running across the flat rock.  David stored in the icy stream the amassed small apples and pears that he gathered from the trees and we also let our water bottles cool in the water.

I had a pear and enjoyed it. While the remaining group was anxious to go down to the apple grove where Yuhanna located a “nice place” to have lunch I felt as happy as a clam tanning in the sun, walking bare feet and cooling my feet and rubbing lavender flowers on my hands and having a smoke.

William was pounding on a stone and it turned out to be of silex and he wanted to transform it into a stone knife; he had seen a big silex stone, but when he climbed to retrieve it he could not find it again to bring it back.

Within 15 minutes Yuhanna asked us to join and we went down to another stream of running water among the apple grove and Yuhanna was frustrated with Chelsea because she was venturing far off the group.  We had lunch; the chips were first to go and Joanna prepared us cheese sandwiches and then we ended up with the Oriole biscuits and other kinds of chocolate covered biscuits; I had also raw peanuts and kept belching for the rest of the trip.

Joanna tried her hands with the kite that she had sent to Yuhanna from London; she failed to make it fly; David and William drenched Hanane with icy water. I had a comfortable nap while people were chatting away. Chelsea was a pain for the group in her wandering off, climbing and jumping off walls and rocks and being “har2a”; obviously a close second to my pain in the ass behavior for discovering new paths. We stayed and rested until 6:30 p.m.

The return path among the apple groves coincided with the path that I had suggested before we climbed the hill.  I took the lead again with Tony who was anxious to terminate the trip and I never stopped for an hour and a half.  William joined Yuhanna and Joanna to check on a camping area and Chelsea joined them.  After a while we saw Chelsea coming alone grim faced and clutching her right hand and not stopping to talk to us; she had hurt her hand and was furious with Yuhanna.

Ashley decided to walk with Chelsea for the remaining walking trip; Ashley was even jogging in order to advance me. I kept my fast steady pace and even jogged for a short distance but could not catch up with Chelsea and Ashley; thus, I arrived third to the parked cars.

William gave us a summary of the statistics of this trip, collected on his cellular; he walked 17,000 steps and the round trip was 11 kilometers and it took us 5 hours and a half, including the resting period, and the average speed was 5 kilometers per hour as a group.

At the suggestion of Yuhanna we had dinner at “Istira7at Al 3erzal” in downtown Farayat; I refilled many cups of hot tea. We had labheh, baked potatoes, homus and cucumbers.  I lent Hanane my light jacket to warm up; Chelsea would not relent and never gave the gang peace and quietude.  Tony brought up his dish to where we were sitting William and me, at the other end of the table.

Tony said that he usually sit in front of a wall at home to enjoy what he is eating; that when in groups people eat a lot without noticing; William agreed with Tony and I sat next to Tony and we had a cigarette (the only two smokers).

By the time we paid the bill of 40,000 LL ($25) around 10 p.m. (I didn’t pay a dime: I had none) most of the gang members were exhausted and sleepy. They decided to drop the karaoke part and go home.  I sat in the back seat: David needs to feel entirely comfortable; William was driving.

Chelsea made herself comfortable and slept on my lap while Adrea was sleeping in the other corner, all crumpled up; David was sleeping in the front.  I was feeling good and full of energy. We arrived at 11:30 and the public electricity was still out since noon.

Mother was awake because she watched the interview with General and Deputy Michel Aoun along with Raymonde and Victor till 11:30.  I watched TV till 12:30 a.m. David slept at Ashley’s. Ashley and Joanna gave Tony ride home.

Initiation to music (continue 34)

It was during that period that I tried to learn musical instruments; I purchased an accordion and a classical guitar but gave up quickly. I enrolled for music lessons on Saturday mornings at the University of Kasleek but had no musical ears and learned that it was too late for me to acquire any musical skills. I recall vividly that the class of “solfege” got very excited as my turns approached for reciting musical codes.  The laughter started before I started and it grew to a deafening crescendo.  The next room music teachers used to immediately come in and join the merry. I didn’t believe the students serious: I was damned sure that my voice was correct since my ears were telling a different story. At long last I had to fake that my voice was not suitable and started preempting laughter; well I simply agree, there is no coordination between the brains specialized in ear and voice performances in my head.  My musical instruments didn’t go to waste; they are used by my nieces occasionally.

I enrolled in aerobics because it was the fashion; I was trying to catch up with any activity that I was denied as a kid and trying to discover any innate skills that I could develop as a hobby; I was to discover no genuine artistic or physical skills and blamed it on age.

I had many trips to the sky resort of Faraya; I had a second-hand Peugeot 404. I purchased all the snow skiing equipments and outfits.  Most of these trips I took alone during week days when I lost my job; the weekend trips I drove with Rose, a neighbor. I enjoyed swimming in the sea and covered heated swimming pools.  My best months for beaches were from mid-September to mid-November; the kids are in schools, the sand and sea water are cleaner, and I am practically master of the location.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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