Adonis Diaries

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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)

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 1.20.34 am

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

A political transition Economy? Only in Egypt?

Despite billions of dollars from Gulf countries, a new minimum wage and efforts by the country’s central bank, Egypt still faces big economic challenges.

Protests and clashes since 2011 have scared off investors and tourists to Egypt.

Tourism was an important source of foreign currency for the country and income for many Egyptians working in the sector. Egypt’s tourism revenue fell by 41% to $5.9 billion in 2013 from $10 billion in 2012Egypt’s tourism hit hard from unrest

WORLD – FEBRUARY 4, 2014

Egypt’s economy stumbling amid political transition

Egyptian media have hailed the military’s role as bringing stability to the country, which could help investment and tourism. Military chief Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, who is expected to become the next president, may not reform the economy, however, because the military controls a vast economic empire.  Explainer: Egypt’s military
Egypt’s currency traded at 6.96 pounds to the dollar on Feb. 4, a decrease of about 11% from the previous year.
It has declined since the 2011 uprising, before which it traded around 5.8 to the dollar. The Central Bank has held extraordinary auctions to prop up the currency, but a black market persists.
Construction across Cairo and increased access to cheap appliances has pushed up demand for electricity.
Fuel shortages have increased, causing more frequent electricity blackouts. Exploration companies are not developing Egypt’s gas-rich waters, saying the government is not paying them enough.
Copyright 2014 Reuters

COPYRIGHT 2014 REUTERS

Protests and clashes since 2011 have scared off investors and tourists to Egypt. Tourism was important source of foreign currency for the country and income for many Egyptians working in the sector. Egypt's tourism revenue fell by 41% to $5.9 billion in 2013 from $10 billion in 2012.
COPYRIGHT 2014 REUTERS 
Egyptian media have hailed the military's role as bringing stability to the country, which could help investment and tourism. Military chief Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, who is expected to become the next president, may not reform the economy, however, because the military controls a vast economic empire.
COPYRIGHT 2014 REUTERS
“Nobody can live, in the long term, on aid. It is not sustainable.” SHERIF SAMY, EGYPT’S FINANCIAL SUPERVISORY AUTHORITY

Since the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has spent about half its foreign reserves, which fell to $17 billion in the end of 2013 from $36 billion in 2010.

Egypt has used billions of loans from Gulf countries on stimulus packages, but analysts warn debts will hinder the economy in the long term

In January the government increased the minimum wage for public sector employees to 1,200 Egyptian pounds per month ($172.41). Many Egyptians say the minimum is not enough, even with additional support from subsidies on essential goods. Strikes by government doctors occurred despite the rise.

“The minimum salary should be 3,000 pounds. If it doesn’t get resolved, we will all take to the streets. If this continues I will suffocate.” SAYED HUSSEIN, PHYSICS TEACHER AND FOOD SELLER

Many people in Egypt supplement their day jobs to make ends meet. A popular refrain during the 2011 uprising was “Bread, freedom and social justice,” and price increases to bread have caused riots in the past.

About one in four Egyptians, or about 20 million people, live on less than $1.65 per day, according to government statistics.

About 30% of children under 5 years old suffered from malnutrition in 2013.

In rural areas the poverty rate reaches as high as 60%.

A brief encounter with Amman, Jordan

Though there is still much left to be seen, the short trip to Amman was a success, a rich experience of tradition and an eye opener to lots of what is uniquely Jordanian.

Wajdi Ghoussoub posted on Sat. 10/06/2012:

I did not see much of Amman. Though not ideally suited to offer much judgment about the city situated on a set of hills, my short trip is still worthy of a few descriptive lines.

The Jordanian CapitalAmman has a certain charm and feels distinctively authentic, two traits not much uncommon with other Levantine cities (Near Eastern States such as Syria, Lebanon and Palestine).

What makes Amman – and every urban center for that matter – really unique are its people (not so cheerful I heard many say, though I am yet to be convinced) who appeared to be very friendly; most men leave a proud moustache and most women clearly have what one could call Arab features.

This is in addition to the sloped and not so gentle on the stomach roads, the low and not quite attractive rises, the unstructured planning that easily loses someone’s sense of direction, and other small things that often make the difference and a city’s heart beat.

The trip from the airport to the hotel felt eternal and as dangerous as any trip one makes in that part of the world.

I later came to know that Jordanians often compare any trip, which is long and a cause of weariness, to their airport road. Forty five minutes or so later, I was in my hotel and ready for an imbibing session with my Jordanian friend (with the company of Johnnie Walker many local men would want to emphasize).

We were to spend the next day taking a brief tour of Amman before making the 45 minute trip down to the Dead Sea. Yes – ‘down’ but more on that later on.

The last day would be spent back in the city, lunching on the famous and sensationally delectable national dish, Mansaf (see note), followed by another brief cruise before flying back to Dubai. Sounded like one heck of a weekend, though not a too insensible one.

Very late on Thursday night and after much concentrating effort by the buzzing mind, I came to learn that Amman, unlike say Jerusalem, Damascus or Baghdad, hasn’t been the metropolitan city it is today until quite recently.

Nevertheless, its history is quite long and rich and not to be underestimated, very much like that of the rest of the land now forming Jordan. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the capital sits on more than 8 hills, a usual characteristic of villages and not cities.

Before we began our journey – again down – to the Dead Sea, we took a ride through the capital, driving on the major axis and around a series of numbered roundabouts, stopping at a place for an Oreo milkshake – not a Jordanian tradition, but still a very tasty treat – and passing by a weekend market where my friend once saw Ilham Al Madfai, my favorite singer of Iraqi origin who currently resides in Jordan.

The trip to the Dead Sea was a cause of some childish and not too serious stress. If Amman’s lowest point is at around 600 meters above sea level, the Dead Sea is approximately 400 meters below sea level (marking the lowest elevation on land).

Overstretched imagination made it hard for me to comprehend how possible it is or noticeable it would be to be at the lowest point on earth. Will it be a tight curved road? Will it be severely and frighteningly sloped? What if a big bang of sorts takes place and the not too far Mediterranean Sea comes rushing down towards us like a tsunami? I was mocked at and then jokingly assured that all will be fine.

Indeed, the road was wide and comfortable and the Dead Sea, except for the lack of boats and the high salt content (8 times or so that of the ocean) that makes you float with no effort, felt like any other sea really. The apparently common knowledge that it is receding and will dry up in less than 50 years has led to some far-fetched solutions by some.

Across the calm waters, one can see the Palestinian territories and the west bank of the Jordanian river that diminishingly feeds the sea. At night, and to my great surprise, what apparently were the lights of Jerusalem from a distance were pointed out to me.

We were so close yet felt so detached from Palestine, Jerusalem and the entire Palestinian and Israeliexistential issues and also from the nearby Syrian tragedy.

The map itself looked random and clearly drawn by the powers of the early 20th century. I saw where Petra, the ancient city carved in stone, and Aqaba, Jordan’s port town, were located.

Before hitting the long road to the airport again, we stopped to have coffee delivered to our car in the poorer East Amman (one ‘Turkish sabb’ my friend excitingly exclaimed), we drove on what is supposedly the longest S shaped suspension bridge in the world (is there any other we jokingly thought?) and came to notice that the Jordanians have invested a lot in their capital’s postal code system (unlike in other cities in the Middle East) but not so much in its public and not to be relied upon transportation system.

Had I planned to stay longer, I would have embarked on the usual routine I follow when I visit any new place: buy a map, understand it up to the most granular level and walk extensively on foot abiding by it.

To be fair, the motivations this time around were different. The point was only to drink, eat, laugh and catch up with my friend and, why not I thought, see just the very basics. The score of meeting such goals was a 10 on 10. Still, I will undoubtedly return to Amman and Jordan and next time I will give them the focus they rightly deserve.

Picture source: http://www.jordanholidays.net

 
 
Note 1: Mansaf is a Bedouin dish of rice, lamb and jameed (a yogurt-like substance). Tradition dictates that the large plate is to be devoured only by hand. The OCD reader might be happy to know (though not so convincingly) that Mansaf is hygienic because there are some basic rules to follow, 3 of which are perhaps the most critical: hands, of course and in any case, are to be washed, each person has an area of the dish to cover (a Mansaf realm?) and the handful small ball of jameed watered rice and lamb is to be thrown into the mouth by the way of a thumb throw, thus not allowing the fingers to touch the lips. It was a very tasty, tiring and filling experience. As my friend followed this food “massacre” with a power nap, I found myself looking in more detail at the map of Jordan.
 
Note 2 (mine): Israel has been exploiting the minerals from the Dead Sea for decades, and also diveritng part of its water and reducing this Sea to a deader condition

adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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