Leisurely start to the day, Ramzi drove us to their other vineyards in Hadath on the way the very efficient and friendly Lebanese army stopped us at one of their numerous checkpoints to search our bags and check our passports. We made a brief stop to a hut on the roadside to buy some of the exceptional flat breads that we had been feasting on since our arrival.
Planted in the vineyards in Hadath are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, all the vines are quite young circa six years old. It is a superb vineyard site as to one side you have the mountains and on the other side the Mediterranean. There is always a cooling breeze running through the vineyard keeping every thing very healthy.
Off to Baalbeck to visit the roman temple which is incredibly well preserved despite the fact it has suffered from war, theft and earthquakes. We are looked after by a most informative young man who is the third generation of guides in his family. Baalbeck is north of the Bekka valley and on the border of Syria so a very different feel to this town than elsewhere, still very friendly and hospitable but due to the borders being closed between Syria and Le
banon the town was at least 40% down on tourism and trade. Back though the checkpoint, suspiciously quiet; it must be lunchtime where we hook up with Sami who bombs down the mountain side past Musar’s winery to the coast for another meal; this time a mezze of seafood for a late lunch in a lovely restaurant on the water where the sun sets and we head back into Beirut. A few hours later we meet Sami and have a few scoops at his friends bakery/café and a few tasty morsels of Lebanese cuisine before heading back to our hotel in the early hours of the morning. As I said Beirut is a city that never sleeps.
Sadly our final day in Lebanon and today we are just being tourists. As driving in the Lebanon requires a great deal skill we have opted for a driver. First stop; Jeita caves not far from Beirut these are a must if you are even in Lebanon. There are two caves, the first cave is not for the faint hearted and if you suffer from vertigo you may want to give it a miss, you walk through crystallised limestone in the shape of curtains, columns etc, it goes on and on and you reach quite a height within the cave. The second cave is accessed by a small boat and equally as spectacular, you can not go all the way through the cave as the narrow boat does not fit through all the rock formations.
Then we headed to Byblos a beautiful port town not far from Beirut (37km) where we wandered through the souk (market) and walled streets of the ancient port town. Wine has been shipped from this port town for 5000 years. We had superb lunch in Casa Pepe where photo’s of the rich and famous adorn the walls from there visits in the 1960’s. The seafood was delicious and as the restaurant is situated on the harbour you get a super view.
We got dropped back at the Cathedral in Beirut and we also went to the mosque and wandered back to our hotel to for a quick break before hitting the town. Joe Pena’s for tex mex and on to the Music Hall for a seriously funny evening’s entertainment. As we get up the next morning the heavens open and after three fascinating days in Lebanon it is time to go home.