Visit Lebanon and Fall in Love With This Amazing Place - Travel Squad Podcast

Visit Lebanon and Fall in Love With This Amazing Place

We took a squad trip to visit Lebanon, see the family, and tour this small, but mighty country. We go to ancient Roman ruins, blizzard mountains, have espresso on the Mediterranean sea, and eat SO much delicious Lebanese food.

We actually did a whole episode on middle eastern food, you can listen to it here. Warning: You WILL want to eat middle eastern food after listening.

is all about the great country of Lebanon! It may be tiny, but it has so much history, amazing food and the most beautiful sights to be seen. This episode is full of freakouts, fun, laughter, and so much more! Places to Visit in Lebanon

  • Tannourine
  • Baalbek
  • Byblos

Things to do in Lebanon

  • Go on a Beirut foodies tour
  • Eat so much amazing Lebanese food!
  • Go on a Beirut City Tour

Visit Lebanon – Episode Transcript

4 (59s):
Welcome to this weeks episode of the Travel Squad podcast. Today, we are taking you with us to Lebanon

3 (1m 7s):
Lebanon 2020. We had been planning this trip for over three years, and we are finally here to talk about it. This was actually a 10 day trip, but in Lebanon, we only spent about five days. We added on Dubai, which is a whole nother episode. We’ll talk all about that in little

6 (1m 23s):
It’s our next episode, actually, but I’ve been wanting to go to Lebanon ever since Jamal and I first started dating in 2007. So for the last 13 years I’ve been eating Jamal’s, dad’s authentic Lebanese cooking, and I’ve been dying to try authentic Lebanese food in the heart of Lebanon. Shwarma falafel baklava .

2 (1m 51s):
So this is Jamal and I’s motherland. In fact, the last place that I lived before moving to San Diego was actually Beirut Lebanon and Beirut is the Capitol of the country. So this trip for me was super bittersweet and really nostalgic because I’ve had some of my best younger years there partying throughout the city. And I did go to school there too. So good times.

6 (2m 15s):
Was it on the path of nostalgia?

2 (2m 17s):
It really was. It really

3 (2m 19s):
Was the west

2 (2m 20s):
Side. You know, it stay tuned for next week’s episode in Dubai and you’ll get those references.

6 (2m 26s):
So you guys ready to talk about Lebanon?

4 (2m 30s):
Yeah. Yellow. Just so everyone knows is hurry up or that’s go in Arabic. So it

2 (2m 36s):
Really can mean any,

4 (2m 37s):
It can, it can, but those are the,

3 (2m 39s):
Those,

4 (2m 40s):
Those are the main things that it’s used for. So while we were there, definitely at the squad was using key Lebanese phrases and yellow being one of them.

6 (2m 50s):
Why don’t you tell us about the current situation and Lebanon?

4 (2m 53s):
Yeah, so we, as mentioned earlier by Kim have been planning this trip for three years, we’ve been saying Lebanon 2020 for a very long time. And finally in September of 2019, we had booked it. And literally two weeks after we had booked it, a little fiasco has gone down in the motherland for Zana and I in Lebanon. They’re currently having an economic crisis of sorts. They, Lebanon is one of the most heavily indebted countries in the world. They have a bond that’s due in March. So by the time you’re listening to it, this bond has been due and they don’t really have the money to pay it.

4 (3m 39s):
And it’s really freaking out a lot of the residents of the country. And they’ve all started to try to go and pull out their money from the banks because they’re afraid that it might be like an economic collapse and a run on the banks and a run on the banks. If all of you, aren’t too familiar with American history during the great depression, people wanted to get their money out of the bank. The bank’s money that they use of the depositors. You know, people like us was tied up in loans and other stuff. So they didn’t have enough money to give people back out. And that’s the situation now. So they’ve instituted what they call capital controls, where they only give $500 a month to the average citizen in terms of what they can actually pull out and physical cash.

4 (4m 22s):
Now they could spend more money in terms of debit or like paying off, you know, via credit to somebody else. But in terms of pulling out physical cash in order to keep the banks propped up, they’ve limited that, and it’s causing economic unrest protests against the government. And so a lot of stuff had been going on before we left and that may have altered our trip where a lot of people were saying, oh, it’s not safe and you shouldn’t go. But nonetheless, we persisted and went to Lebanon.

2 (4m 49s):
One thing to note Jamal was saying that like, you can use debit and whatnot, but you really like, it’s a cash society. So they haven’t gotten to the place where they’re more debit and credit friendly. So that’s why it’s so hard. People like us in the United States rely on debit cards. They don’t

6 (5m 5s):
From the U S department of state. There is a travel advisory against Lebanon. There are four levels level. One is, you know, you can go still level four is absolutely do not go do not go at all. Level three is reconsider the trip and Lebanon is at a level three. So we were like, should we go, should we not go? We were kind of watching the protest, seeing what was happening because we did not want to essentially get stuck there. That was like our worry. But,

3 (5m 33s):
And our worry was that we would get there and that we would be prevented from doing all of the touristic activities that we had planned.

6 (5m 40s):
That’s true.

2 (5m 41s):
There’s a lot of road.

4 (5m 42s):
Yeah, because the one thing I didn’t say, I mean, I was talking about the situation and the protest, but one of the things that they’re doing to protest the banks and the government beyond that is actually, you know, blocking roads to, and from the airport or in and out of the city of Beirut. So if you want to leave the city and go do activities, whether you’re a local, there are tourists that can be hindered based on the protests that are going on and the blocking of the roads.

6 (6m 6s):
So we’ve got some tips, tips, tips for you guys that we’re going to get into

3 (6m 10s):
Tips, tips,

6 (6m 11s):
And likes. And I said, she already brought this up, bring cash. You can’t really bring your debit card or your credit card. A lot of places don’t accept them now because of the economic crisis, we saw a lot of restaurants, a lot of merchants saying we’re not accepting credit card payment cash only. And they’ve actually during the protests have destroyed a lot of bank ATM’s. So it would be really hard to pull out cash if you can’t find an ATM to pull cash from.

4 (6m 40s):
Yeah. And so when we’re saying, bring cash, you’re thinking, well, what’s their local currency. I’m coming with my home currency, whether it be the U S dollar or anything else, but let me tell you something, they want us dollars over there. So if you have us dollars, it’ll spend as good as anything else. They don’t care that it’s not in local currency. So when we say, bring cash, bring your us dollars. If you aren’t an American and don’t have us dollars, it’ll be easier for you to trade it into dollars and use it there because that’s their preferred default currency to use would be the dollar. And like Brittany said, the ATM’s are, some of them busted up. But on top of that, they put in what we talked about earlier, those capital controls.

4 (7m 20s):
So even if you’re coming with an American card, they’re still really going to limit how much physical cash you can actually pull out yourself. So you want to have your currency on you.

2 (7m 31s):
1,500 Lebanese Lira is equivalent to a dollar. And it’s exactly that. So if you go to a store and something costs $2, you can physically give them one us dollar and then 1500 Lebanese Lira. And they will take that. Or, I mean, now they’re not really giving us dollars back so much, but when I used to live there, they would give you a mixed change of American dollars and Lebanese Lira at the time now 1500, but there is a black market right now for it to increase to 2000 Lebanese Lira to equal $1.

3 (8m 5s):
The other thing that you should know is that the traffic and the car driving is wild. They don’t abide by lanes. They don’t abide by lights, Dade, somehow make it work. I didn’t see a single accident there, but I don’t know how we avoided them the whole time. It’s wild.

6 (8m 19s):
It’s crazy. And I feel like streets aren’t very well named or labeled. And so it’s like, how do you know to turn down this street? Because it looks like an alley to me,

3 (8m 29s):
Gray, gray,

4 (8m 31s):
Well, they’ve been driving on it, their whole lives. So for us, people coming as novices, who haven’t really driven, they’re like, it’s confusing. But to them, it’s organized chaos that I guess they understand

2 (8m 40s):
Me. I actually felt the last time I was, there was 10 years ago in 2010. And I felt that there were some improvements because I know that there were certain intersections that didn’t have stoplights. And they used to have an army guy in the middle of the road, kind of like on one of those things that a ringleader at a circus stands on. So they put lights there and now the army guy doesn’t sit there anymore. So I’m like, wow,

3 (9m 2s):
I have to tell the story of our cab driver that got out of the car to direct traffic. This like has to happen right now. Okay. We’re sitting in traffic, it’s a busy part of Lebanon. And they Ru we’d been sitting there for maybe five minutes, maybe more, no, one’s moving in either direction, any direction, cab drivers, like I’ve had enough as him. And he gets out of the car and he runs and he starts directing traffic. He’s like, you, you come this way, boom, car start moving. He’s like, you, you stop, stop. Okay. Now come, come, boom. And when people start moving, he’s actually clearing the way. And he starts running back. Boom. And boom. He jumps in the car and we actually have a way through and about, and it, it

6 (9m 44s):
Was amazing

2 (9m 45s):
Video of that.

4 (9m 46s):
Yeah. I jumped out of the car, cleared traffic to make way for us to get through because we were trying to make a left as everybody was seemingly to go. Right. And everyone who was on that perpendicular road. So going that direction was just blocking our traffic. So

3 (10m 0s):
Yeah, he,

4 (10m 1s):
He opened up the lane and had done that. It was quite impressive, but what the girls are saying too about, you know, just the traffic rules, even though yes. You drive on the right side of the road at the same time, there aren’t really lanes to tell you, okay, this is all for this direction and this direction. So it just kind of makes it work. So they have a wide lane, but you don’t really know what lane is. What, because there are no dividing, like yellow lines to say, this is the side of traffic,

2 (10m 28s):
But it works. And we got through it. Another thing to note is that they do have electricity cuts. And so every single day, most places have generators. So you’re good. But they just, for whatever reason, they cut power for a specific amount of time. And again, I remember last time I was living there, they would cut at 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM. The next day would be 9:00 AM to 12. The next day, 12 to three, the day following would be three to six. And then it starts all over again.

3 (10m 57s):
And you were living there when

2 (10m 58s):
This is 2010, but even while we were there, we were at my cousin’s house. He let us stay at his house all by ourselves, which thank you all lead for that. And, But we still had blackouts there. Now he had a generator, which is something that I never had at the places that I rented. So you can turn it on. Not that we were at the house that much anyways, or that I was ever at my house anyways. But you know, there are ways around it, but if you’re staying at a hotel, you’re going to be fine.

4 (11m 25s):
Yeah. If you’re staying at a hotel, you don’t need to worry about the power cuts at all.

2 (11m 28s):
But it is something to note because when, if you are visiting someone or whatnot, you don’t want to take the elevator. Cause the last thing you want to do is get stuck.

6 (11m 36s):
Yeah. That would be scary. Especially if there wasn’t a backup generator going. Yeah.

2 (11m 40s):
Yeah. I mean, we were even at the American university of Beirut and at one point the power went out and that’s a university and what it was maybe for no more than 30 seconds and they got it back on, but just like constant blackouts

6 (11m 51s):
While we’re talking on the subject of power. I just want to mention that it’s important to bring an adapter for your plugs. So in Lebanon they use the European style or middle Eastern style plugs. So make sure you bring that because they don’t use us plugs there,

2 (12m 6s):
Check the weather before you go. It is on the Mediterranean. We went in January, which was really, really rainy. Everyone kept telling us that we should have come in March. And then the summer is really intense humidity with high heat. So the mixture of the two, you’re going to be sticky the entire time, September is a good time to go. I think,

6 (12m 24s):
Yeah. They kept telling us March or September, March, or September.

2 (12m 28s):
And then all those tips aside, just know that if you go to Lebanon, you’re going to have some of the most fun that you’ve ever had. This country knows how to party, no matter what’s going on.

4 (12m 38s):
Yeah. I just want to say too, before we really get into the meat of our trip and talking about it, as we mentioned, this was the first part of our trip. We did Lebanon and then do buy. And most people like our friends were like, oh, when we came back, how was Dubai? How was Dubai? And not as impressive as Lebanon. And I don’t say that as a biased opinion because my father is from Lebanon. Like Lebanon truly is a lot more fun and cultural and had a really, really good time out there

2 (13m 4s):
Really friendly people to very hospitable.

3 (13m 7s):
So to kick off our trip, we started with a flight from San Diego. We had to connect through London and on this light, we use our hack. If you guys don’t know about this hack, we’ve talked about it before. If you send us a written five star review, we will give you our hack on how to get upgraded for free. Or if there is no seats for upgrading, you will at least get treated like you were in first class. And that’s exactly what we did on this trip. What did we get?

6 (13m 31s):
Oh my God, we got so much so started off at the check-in counter. She allowed us to board with first-class passenger. She said, you know, I don’t have the availability to upgrade you because the flight is booked, but you can board with the first boarding group.

3 (13m 46s):
And that was just the beginning. What else?

2 (13m 47s):
So it was nice because I’ve never boarded that far, like before everyone. So we had the entire section to herself. We didn’t have to fight for space or anything. And then once everyone got on the plane, they brought us champagne. And once we were in the air, they brought a champagne

4 (14m 0s):
And they brought a champagne to start off with any economy. You know, if you’re flying business class or first class, you usually get that. But you know, you don’t get that in an economy. And they specifically brought us a bottle of champagne from the front cabins and first-class in business for us to have,

6 (14m 16s):
And we had legit champagne glasses like this wasn’t in the tiny plastic throw away cup. These were in legit Champaign glasses,

3 (14m 25s):
Tree bags.

2 (14m 26s):
These are first-class toiletry bags.

6 (14m 29s):
My God, it had an eye mask, socks,

3 (14m 32s):
Tooth elements, college in paced

6 (14m 35s):
Face mask chapstick. It had everything

3 (14m 38s):
Spray,

4 (14m 39s):
Essential oils, all of the above.

2 (14m 43s):
Well then they brought us candy and then they came back and asked us if we wanted alcohol. And then they brought it in like one, they had the good

4 (14m 50s):
Alcohol, they brought us the alcohol from the first class cabins, high end stuff.

2 (14m 55s):
And they brought it in nice glass glasses. And under the plastic

4 (14m 59s):
Shit, beautiful crystal glass,

3 (15m 2s):
Fucking stacks. We couldn’t even take them all

2 (15m 4s):
Seriously

3 (15m 4s):
Between the snacks and the stolen airplane blankets. We did not have enough room.

4 (15m 9s):
And then the lead flight attendant, he also wrote us like a very nice thank you card. He asked where we were going. We told them that we were going to Lebanon and Dubai. And he said, oh, you know, I used to live in Dubai. That was one of my station areas. And so he wrote us a very beautiful card that gave us a list of activities and advice on what he recommends for us to do. So again,

2 (15m 31s):
Of British airways,

4 (15m 32s):
Shout out to Al. So just because there was four of us all going together, you know, it was definitely hard to find the room to upgrade all of us. But like I said, if you don’t get the upgrade, you had these get treated like royalty and first class, which makes the flight in economy so much better. If there’s not available space to upgrade, definitely do send in that five star review, screenshot it, send it to us, let us see it. And we’ll definitely give you that travel hack.

6 (15m 57s):
So after we got off the flight from San Diego to London, we had a little bit of a layover. And then we took a flight from London to Beirut. What was awesome about this flight was it was not full out all. So we sat in our original seats and then when the seatbelt sign turned off, we all went and claimed a row in the back. And we each got our own row and we got to sleep for a few hours on the way to Beirut.

2 (16m 23s):
That’s what happens when you go to a country and economic crisis and out of the tourist, see,

4 (16m 28s):
Yeah, flight’s not full. So he had her own rose to sleep in, which was really, really nice.

3 (16m 32s):
I would say I’m pretty happy with British airways to the food on the airplane was pretty good. Service was great.

4 (16m 38s):
Yeah, definitely good. Shout out to British airways had a really good flight experience all the way around. So we flew out on a Friday with the time change. We landed Saturday. By the time we got through customs and everything that was around 10:00 PM, we got picked up by Zayna and I’s cousin Waleed who allowed us to stay at his place as we had mentioned earlier. So he picked us up. And the first thing that he did, even though it was late at night, you go to the middle east, what do you want to do? You want to eat delicious middle Eastern food? And he took us straight to , which is a famous restaurant in the Humaira area of Beirut for falafel and chicken shawarma.

4 (17m 20s):
So

3 (17m 21s):
Good.

2 (17m 22s):
It was so good guys.

3 (17m 24s):
And that was the beginning of the feasting for the next five days.

6 (17m 28s):
I don’t think we stopped feasting. I was really happy that we got to try chicken shawarma, like 15 minutes after we landed at the airport. That was like, oh yeah, I know we just ate on British airways flight, but I can always fit in some chicken shawarma.

3 (17m 45s):
Then we went to sleep. It was late. We woke up the next day and we hit the ground running. What did we do?

2 (17m 50s):
Zeta grotto, Bethesda and the Cedars. So we’ll go over each of them one at a time

4 (17m 56s):
As mentioned, we were staying at Waleed’s and for this part of the day, he was our driver. So the first thing we did, we woke up early and went to a Zeta grotto, which is a 30 minute drive north of Beirut. And it’s very, very famous as a limestone cave and they have an upper and a lower section. The upper section is walkable for you. So you can walk through, see the cave, see the stalagmites stalactites. And the lower section is really interesting. That’s where all the water accumulates. So you can actually take a little river cruise if you will, within the cave in that area because of the water.

4 (18m 38s):
And there’s no walk-in space. You have to take a boat in that area.

2 (18m 41s):
And for those of you who aren’t going with family who are chauffeuring them around, they do have buses and whatnot. So you can always take a bus there. It’s about 11 miles north of Beirut.

3 (18m 51s):
You can also get a Viator tour.

2 (18m 53s):
We did not do that, but we did meet some girls who did do that tour. Yes.

6 (18m 56s):
Yeah. So we got to Jetta grotto at 9:00 AM and I would recommend it getting there, right. One to opens because we were the first people in the cave. They literally opened the cave for

3 (19m 8s):
Us, turned on all the lights.

6 (19m 9s):
Yeah.

3 (19m 10s):
And right up celebrity status, walking in there

6 (19m 13s):
And squad tip to know is you do have to put your cell phone,

3 (19m 18s):
Which sucks

6 (19m 18s):
In a locker. They watch you put your phone in the locker,

3 (19m 22s):
Really strict,

6 (19m 23s):
Really strict. They give you the key. And they say that there’s absolutely no photos inside the cave,

3 (19m 28s):
By the way, in hindsight, here’s what I would do. But my phone in my jacket pocket, I would put my purse in the locker acting as if my phone was in it. And I would put my phone in my jacket pocket. Because once you walk about the cave, you get to a certain point where no, one’s there. No one’s looking. And if you don’t have the flasher and you’re not hurting the Cavan, I would risk it because that cave is fucking gorgeous.

2 (19m 51s):
But if you get caught, they’ll take you to jail and cut off your hand.

3 (19m 54s):
Oh,

2 (19m 59s):
Just kidding, man.

4 (20m 1s):
I agree with that. Tip Kevin. That was a really, really good tip. You know, the last time I had been there, because I’ve done this before, when we’ve gone on family vacations and granted it’s been a long time, they didn’t have that rule at all. So

3 (20m 13s):
I do agree with the flash. You can hurt the natural environment, but if you don’t have your flash on it, just be secretive and like do it.

6 (20m 20s):
Did you guys love that? Jamal and I were your cave to wear guides for Jetta grotto.

3 (20m 25s):
I didn’t know how proficient in caves. You guys wearing,

4 (20m 27s):
I’m pretty proficient in caves. This is not the, this is not the first cave I’ve been in. So I could tell you all the difference between stalagmites, stalactites, draperies columns. Yes. All of that stuff.

3 (20m 39s):
Very intelligent.

4 (20m 40s):
Yeah. So not my first cave, but you know, each time you walk into one, it’s like you walk into it for the first time. It just never ceases to amaze you. They’re so, so beautiful.

6 (20m 49s):
And so like Jamal said, the upper cave is where you can walk through and it’s a self guided to where you finally hit an end where you can’t go any farther. You have to turn back around the same way that you came in. And then don’t forget to go down to the lower cave. You have to take a little tram down there. And then once you get there, there is a guy waiting on a boat for you. And you just load the little tiny boat. It probably seats no more than like eight people max at a time, along with the little boat driver and he

3 (21m 20s):
Guild ass driver too. He was like sliding through those passageways. Like, yeah.

6 (21m 28s):
So here Kim actually did take her phone.

3 (21m 30s):
He let us take pictures when you got past a certain point that nobody could see.

4 (21m 35s):
Yeah. And he was not allowed, he was doing it in the hopes of getting tips. So if they allow you to do it, definitely be courteous and tip the driver for it because they’re not technically supposed to tell you you’re allowed to take them. So if they do it, you know, they are working for the tip and just be a little courteous, maybe a dollar here, there, it’s not going to be the end of the world. That will definitely make their day. And those are actually the only photos we got to the cave is when we were in the lower cave,

2 (22m 0s):
We were lucky that we even got to go in them because when it rains and it was raining that day, but when it rains, the water rises. And so sometimes you can’t go through cause it’s not safe, but we were good. So just something to know, if you do go in the winter.

4 (22m 14s):
Yeah. You’re always able to do the upper, but the lower cave potentially may not be able to do.

6 (22m 18s):
Yeah. Because when Anna says the water rises, you’re on water in the cave. So if the water rises so much, you might not be able to sit up without hitting your head on the structures.

3 (22m 30s):
So all in all, you’ll probably spend about one or two hours there and then you’ll move along to the next place, which is another waterfall just down the road. What’s it called?

2 (22m 39s):
Africa grotto.

3 (22m 40s):
Beautiful. Right.

6 (22m 41s):
I didn’t even know that we were going to do this waterfall while a lead kind of just slipped that in.

2 (22m 46s):
Yeah, he did. He, he led us on so many surprises that day because we thought that we were just going to do XYZ and he took us everywhere. So another big shout out to him.

4 (22m 56s):
Yeah. Because from Jetta grotto, we were planning to go to Batara Gorge waterfall, which is a very, very famous waterfall. It’s in the mountain areas in north Lebanon and it’s cutting through multiple layers of the limestone and like little rings. I it’s hard to describe, but if you Google it, it’s absolutely amazing. And we wanted to go there. So along the way, we came across this other waterfall area. And so from the road we stopped, we were able to walk up. They have stairs specifically made for it, for you to get into there. And we just kind of enjoyed the scenery, being in a little cave with the waterfall on the outside, looking out, seeing the mountains part of the snow.

4 (23m 37s):
So, so, so beautiful. But that was nothing in comparison to the main thing that we wanted to do, which as we said, was go to the Batara Gorge waterfall.

2 (23m 48s):
The waterfall drops about 255 meters, which is about 837 feet into the Ballade pothole. And you can hike down and we really wanted to hike down to it. However, our cousin said it would take about 20 minutes. So that’s 20 minutes going down in 20 minutes, going up. The thing about it was it was snowing so hard. I think one of the biggest things that people have been surprised about Lebanon, when I tell them about our experience is that it snows. Yes. It snows, especially in the mountains, it is a complete whiteout. Like there is so much snow, so it was snowing and it was coming down so hard that we had to use our umbrellas because it was

6 (24m 33s):
An umbrella. You had to borrow an umbrella.

2 (24m 35s):
Oh, I use my cousins I’m problem. But I had an umbrella nonetheless, but I mean, I don’t even own an umbrella here in San Diego, let alone all the other three who brought umbrellas with him. Good for you guys, zero. So we used our umbrellas because the snow was coming down so hard and because the snow was coming down so hard, all of us were getting wet. We weren’t equipped for the snow because this wasn’t what we were expecting. So we didn’t go down because it was just too much

6 (25m 3s):
Best. Didn’t bring the proper footwear.

4 (25m 6s):
I was going to say, we knew there was going to be snow in the mountains. I just wasn’t expecting it to be a full blown blizzard. And to the point about the waterfall, you see photos of it online and you see people like standing at the base of it. And I thought like, okay, when you get there, you’re just at the base. But no, you’re at a high elevation. And as Anna said, you have to do the hike down. So what goes down must come up and it was freezing. It was like blizzard conditions. So we saw from the elevated position, but we’re like, okay, we’re too cool to invest the 45, 50 minutes potential to like hike down and then hike back up. But even so it was still really, really beautiful to see. But I recommend to anybody if you go during the spring or summer, because the summer months in the mountains and Lebanon are very, very nice.

4 (25m 50s):
It’s only in Beirut where it’s hot and humid, definitely go do it. You’re going to enjoy it. Even seeing the photos online, just so, so beautiful.

6 (25m 58s):
So after Batara we wanted to go see the Cedars of Lebanon and Lebanon’s tree is the Cedar

4 (26m 5s):
That’s right on their flag. Emblem is the Lebanese. Cedar very famous, mentioned the Bible numerous times.

6 (26m 11s):
And like we had already said it was blizzarding, it was snowing. The roads were white. We’re trying to drive through. And Jamal has Waleed’s phone. He’s trying to direct us how to get to the Cedars. And at one point the roads had been plowed and we get to a point where the roads are no longer plowed. And while he’s like, oh, do we keep going? Or do we not? And it’s like full whiteout around us.

3 (26m 37s):
It’s funny because I don’t think Walid wanted to disappoint us, but all of a sudden the car and we’re like, oh yeah, let’s keep going. And he was like, we’re fucking crazy. I don’t think we should be out here.

6 (26m 50s):
But there was a point where when we were on the cliff of a mountain and the road was no longer plowed, we were like, let’s turn around and take a different route to get to the Cedars. So we turn around, we get as close as we can to the Cedars. And we’re outside this little home and the guy’s like, this is the closest you can get, unless you plan on going snowshoeing,

2 (27m 14s):
Which there was a tour they’re doing Jamal spoke with the tour leader.

4 (27m 17s):
Yeah. I saw a bus just parked out right by where we were parked. And I asked him and he said, oh yeah, he’s like, I have my tour. They’re out hiking to the Cedars right now. They’re snowshoeing because we were able to see them. And usually there’s a road that can get you to them from the main road, but it’s not plowed during the winter. So the only way to get out there is really to hike it yourself. And clearly we weren’t prepared to do that, but we were able to see them from a distance, which was really, really nice and just really iconic to be up there in those forests. And you know, if you Google Lebanese Cedar, you’ll just really see how in the ancient world that an antiquity, those things were really reserved for special projects. And just the nature of the wood itself was like really, really treasured.

4 (28m 1s):
Where

6 (28m 2s):
Did Wally take us next?

2 (28m 3s):
So from there we drove to a monastery and Hemmat with a very beautiful overlook of the coastal city of Patroon so very beautiful lookout place.

4 (28m 13s):
Yeah. It was up on the top of the hill. There was a monastery up there. I don’t remember too much of the historical details of the monastery, but what was really nice about it is from going from the inland to the mountains right here in Vermont, we made our way back to the coast. We were still north of Beirut, but you were able to just see down into the Mediterranean sea, some of the coastal cities up north, and it was just really, really beautiful to have an overlook of the Mediterranean.

6 (28m 40s):
Yeah. And Waleed had planned most of the day for us. Like we had planned what we really wanted to do. He planned the little stops in between, but he said, essentially, we’re leaving the route, going up into the mountains. And then we’re going to come back down to Beirut on the coastal side. So this was us leaving the mountains and getting our first really good looks of coastal Beirut.

4 (29m 1s):
So as Brittany was saying, we know we started up in the mountains and Waleed’s plan was to work our way down the coast to Beirut back to our home base. So as we left tomorrow, we drove to the city of Patroon and he took us to a specific restaurant lay Marine, where we had traditional middle Eastern Mazza. And if you guys don’t know what Mesa is, Mesa is almost like Spanish top us where it’s a bunch of appetizers that are out, but they’re all meant to be eaten as a meal. So we had some homos, Baba news to Bulli for Touche kid be falafel. So whole bunch of middle Eastern staples, but all as appetizers that everyone just kind of reaches in and shares.

4 (29m 44s):
And it was super nice sitting in the classical town of Patroon looking over the Mediterranean, just right there, 10 feet away from us and having a meal. It was so nice. Yeah.

6 (29m 55s):
We had ocean views while we were sitting. And like we said earlier, while we were at that monastery in Heimat, we were looking over the coastal city of Patroon and this is where we drove to next, but it was a really nice lunch, you know, I’ve had for Touche before, but while I was there, it really reopened my love for fatigue. Like we had it pretty much every day from there on out.

4 (30m 17s):
And it opened Kim’s love for fatigue.

3 (30m 19s):
I love her too. She’s one of my favorite Mediterranean dishes, but this was probably the, our first like legit restaurant Lebanese meal, one of my first vacation and Ooh, did not disappoint.

2 (30m 33s):
What am I good. Lebanese friends used to call me Marusha for Touche.

4 (30m 36s):
Cause it rhymes. It

2 (30m 37s):
Rhymes.

6 (30m 39s):
Yeah. It did not disappoint. And I just felt like while Lee did all of the ordering for us, which was really great, but it just did not stop coming. Like we would finish something he’s like, oh, do you want more of that? No, no, no. We don’t want more of that. We’re good. And he’s like, are you sure food was just kept coming and coming and coming. And since we didn’t know, well, at least I didn’t know what he ordered. It was just a surprise.

2 (31m 3s):
And then after that, we decided to go get lemonade at Hillman’s around the corner. So even though we were stuffed, we thought let’s get more.

4 (31m 12s):
Well, that was Waleed’s idea to get that. And it’s a really, really famous Lebanese stand in the city of a true. And so he wanted to take us there really fresh squeezed lemonade. Very, very good. So if you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a try. But you know, this day, the main highlights of things that we wanted to do with was, is you had the grotto and the caves, the Cedars and patada Gorge waterfalls. So those were the main highlights and everything else in between WildAid squeezed in, which made it so, so amazing.

6 (31m 43s):
Yeah. So the next day was Monday and this was the day I was most excited for.

3 (31m 49s):
Surely the only reason I went to Lebanon,

4 (31m 52s):
Whoa. Only reason.

3 (31m 55s):
I honestly, I love ruins. They get me going.

4 (31m 59s):
I dunno if it’s the only reason I’m going to call you out on that. But one of the big reasons.

6 (32m 3s):
So when he went to Baalbek and we booked this trip through Viator, it was a full day trip and Baalbek is south of Beirut, but we are going not only to Baalbek, but to another place with ruins called an jar. And at the very end of the day, we did stop at a winery to do some wine tasting.

4 (32m 23s):
Yeah. So we ended up purchasing this tour to all three locations. Again, Baalbek Casada, which is the winery and an jar for a hundred dollars through a Viator. And I recommend to anybody who is going to Lebanon to look for the tours through Viator, if you’re not as fortunate as us to have transportation, because the places that we mentioned that we went in the previous day, they do have tours through Viader that go to those places. So definitely look and you can make sure to hit all the highlights, but for the a hundred dollars, we went to all three locations and included our entrance. It included a breakfast and lunch and our transportation pickup.

4 (33m 3s):
So we got to choose a hotel that we said we were staying at where we got picked up. So in the morning, the first thing that we did was pick up some Maneesh, which is a traditional Lebanese and middle Eastern breakfast. It’s basically like flat bread, pita bread. That’s toasted in a brick oven with some Sesame seed and time or melted cheese on top. And I absolutely love that. So that’s the first thing we did waking up before we got picked up was to go get a traditional breakfast.

6 (33m 31s):
I got the sausage and cheese and Ooh, it was delicious. And so after we had breakfast or while we had breakfast, we were staying, like we mentioned before at Weill leads apartment. And so by eight or we’ll pick you up from popular hotels. So we just put in the closest hotel to us, which was a Radison blue. And

4 (33m 51s):
We just crossed the street from all leads across the street.

6 (33m 54s):
The leads we walked in, had breakfast while we were there and just waited for our little van to come pick us up.

2 (33m 59s):
So once they did pick us up, the first stop that we made was for breakfast. Cause I didn’t realize that they were going to be feeding us but they gave us , which is really a sweet, sweet sugary breakfast with melted cheese,

4 (34m 15s):
Melted cheese with rosewater syrup. It’s a very famous middle Eastern stapled, really good, but we got picked up from Beirut. We weren’t the only ones on that tour. It was us for the squad and two other girls who are traveling solos, one girl from Germany and another one from Singapore. So we were all in the van together. It was six of us plus our tour guide and to get to Baalbek it’s in the Beqaa valley, which is Lebanon’s fertile agricultural valley. So you have to get away from the coast through the mountains and then down into the valley, which distance wise isn’t very far because Lebanon is a very, very small country. But with the roads, even though they do have main roads, traffic, et cetera, it takes a little bit of time.

4 (34m 56s):
But within the hour of being in the car, we stopped at the breakfast place to have that . And from there it was a, maybe another 20, 25 minute drive to , which is a UNESCO world heritage site. And we saw the ruins of angina.

2 (35m 10s):
When you get to Anja, you’re going to see mountains all around. And on the other side of the mountains is Syria because this is really close to the border there. So another thing to know is as we were getting closer to Andra, you do see a lot of just really makeshift tents out there. And those are the Syrian refugees who started coming into Lebanon since 2010. So a lot of them have been there in that country for that long. And these are not homes. These are like makeshift tents,

4 (35m 39s):
Refugee camps,

2 (35m 40s):
Refugee camps, where it gets at probably he said like below zero, sometimes in the winter

4 (35m 45s):
While they’re talking in Celsius. So freezing like 30 to 31 degrees.

2 (35m 50s):
Yeah. So it’s Lebanon, it’s, it’s just a big melting pot of a whole bunch of different people.

6 (35m 55s):
So we get to an jar and what I took away from it, it was built for the caliphate as a palace city. And it’s just one big, large pleasure palace. Essentially they have Roman fabs, they have like structures for the women that they had living there to please the men. And they would stay in their own quarters and the califate would come down and he would rub his ear. And then that would be one woman signaled to go spend the night with him. And then the next night he would go and I don’t know, rub his eyebrow. And that would be another woman signal to spend the night with him. A little

3 (36m 30s):
Ball scratch was another one

4 (36m 32s):
Maybe who knows what the signals were, but no Britney mentioned the califate what a califate is it’s the leader of an Islamic ruling city or culture. So Andrew was built in the eighth century. So we’re talking in like in the year 700, so really, really long time ago. And again, it was the pleasure palace for the caliphate of the time and really awesome old ruins. And it was only recently discovered like in the 1930s and forties, because now an jar and the city around it is a big Armenian population. And so they found the ruins themselves. And so they’ve still continuously been digging them up, but they never really finished excavating the site because of the Lebanese civil war.

4 (37m 19s):
So they know what they know of it now, but there’s still so much more that’s buried under there that they haven’t like fully excavated, but it’s a UNESCO world heritage site. And just so amazing to see those types of ruins.

3 (37m 29s):
That is so cool. And when we were there, our, I was a senior tour guide who made this? Is it the Romans? He was like, no, the Arabs, the Arabs took recycled materials from what the Romans had made and built this. And I was just like, wow, wow, beautiful.

6 (37m 44s):
Like, I could just imagine what it would look like if it hadn’t been torn down and destroyed.

4 (37m 50s):
Well, speaking of Roman ruins, after an jar, we headed to Baalbek, which is a little bit more north and more inland away from the Syrian border. And Baalbek is another UNESCO world heritage site. But the cool thing about Baalbek is it has some of the most massive and best well-preserved Roman ruins in the world let alone like outside of Rome itself, but just even in the world that some of the best preserved Roman ruins

3 (38m 19s):
As someone that’s been to Rome and seen the Coliseum and walked amongst all of the ruins in Rome, this place was fucking amazing. It was just as cool as Rome, but no tourists. There was nobody there. Yeah,

6 (38m 33s):
It was amazing because there was no one there, it was like we were having our own personal tour guide of the entire site to ourselves,

2 (38m 40s):
Just a guy they’re trying to sell you a t-shirt

4 (38m 44s):
And socks. Obviously, any tourist site they’re going to have street vendors. So that’s what Zane is referring to a lot of street vendors trying to sell like silly miscellaneous things and whatnot. But it’s just so cool. Like we said, some of the best preserved Roman ruins at Baalbek too, they have the largest stone in the world and away from the old temple grounds that are still standing, they have an old quarry, you know, an Accordi as a stone yard where they carved the stones and this is the largest stone ever carved in the world. And it’s just still sitting right there and you look at it and it looks huge. But then when you really see someone, yeah. And then when you really see someone stand next to it in comparison, you really realize like how huge it is.

4 (39m 28s):
And that was the biggest, and they’ve done more excavation and they realized there’s another one lower to it that they’ve never like fully carved out of the limestone itself. That’s still sitting there. So it’s crazy

6 (39m 38s):
Excavation too. They also found out that this largest carved stone is inside of a graveyard. Like that’s kind of creepy, but

3 (39m 46s):
It be,

6 (39m 47s):
It was cool to see.

3 (39m 47s):
And that’s one of the coolest things that I thought about Baalbek was it Baalbek is a town. It is a city and the ruins are underneath everything that the town is built on. It’s not just in this one site that we went to see, which does have massive, very impressive ruins, but they’re all throughout the town. And there would be lions spaces or little sarcophaguses that were put into the ruin site that were found in the city. And they’re still there. They’re not all dug up.

6 (40m 16s):
Yeah. They were saying that there’s a lot to still be discovered. Like some of it is underneath people’s houses now as well. But when we were at the actual site of Baalbek, we explored two main temples and they were called the temple of becausse and the temple of Jupiter,

2 (40m 33s):
Jamal loves temple of Jupiter.

3 (40m 35s):
I love because,

4 (40m 35s):
Oh, I love the temple of Jupiter of one because what’s left standing now is only six pillars. And it’s like, the famous icon of Baalbek is the standing six pillars left of the temple of Jupiter. But it is one of the most massive temples or Roman temples ever built. So it still has its base foundation. Only the six columns now that are still standing. But you think of how big it’s going to be, because then you see the temple of becausse, which Kim really loved. That’s pretty much 100% still intact, all the columns all the way around. And it’s massive. And then when you realize that it’s only like a third of the size of Jupiter, you just think to yourself, Jesus, what did Jupiter look like when it was still standing?

3 (41m 17s):
Because wine and

4 (41m 19s):
Women and orgies too, I thought, right? Yeah. It was basically the Roman pleasure palace of the area, the temple of ACOs

3 (41m 26s):
Everywhere you live with like wine orgies, like whoa.

4 (41m 30s):
And you really know it because if you look at the carvings and our tour guide pointed them out, they had a bunch of like grapes, glasses of wine women, topless that are like pouring wine. So it really was the Roman pleasure palace in the area.

3 (41m 44s):
Romans were super into pleasure.

4 (41m 45s):
Yes, they were.

2 (41m 46s):
I mean, they didn’t have the internet back then. What

4 (41m 49s):
Else are you going to

3 (41m 49s):
Do with your time?

6 (41m 51s):
Pleasure and architecture. Apparently,

2 (41m 54s):
Exactly.

6 (41m 55s):
What was really impressive about the stones was one, they are tons of like tons and tons and it’s like, how did they move all of these stones and get them perfectly into place? And they were also saying that they didn’t like cement them down to each other, that they’re just stone on top of each other fitting in. And one example that they used was one of the temples. I think it was outside the temple of, because a pillar from the outside had fallen onto the main structure and moved a stone in the wall. And so they were saying like, you know, it didn’t break, it didn’t crumble or anything. The stone actually physically moved and you can see the movement on the inside of the palace of ACOs.

6 (42m 37s):
And that was just showing us, like they didn’t use anything to stick the stone together.

4 (42m 42s):
Yeah. It wasn’t cemented in, you could almost imagine like a Jinga block tower. And it was like one of the blocks just kind of like push, not all the way out, but just like a little bit, you know, and that’s what it was, you know, one of the call-ins came over and pushed it and boop, you could see it on the inside, which was really, really cool. But after Baalbek we made our way to a lunch that was provided with our tour and the lunch was so, so good. We went to a restaurant called Lucky’s rest house, which was just a little bit outside of Baalbek. And from there we had such an amazing lunch.

3 (43m 17s):
What is this region known for?

6 (43m 20s):
Mean,

2 (43m 21s):
What is that? It’s like meat pies.

4 (43m 24s):
Yeah. They’re famous for their meat pies. So it’s almost like a meat pastry of sorts. So it’s baked and you know, with bread and meat in the center. So we definitely had that, that was on the table. They also brought out a lot of other appetizers, like to Bulli. And we were talking about kid beat earlier, but they brought out rock, had B, which an Arabic has called kid be

3 (43m 45s):
Ne I tried it,

4 (43m 46s):
Which Kim tra I’m so shocked that even tried like Robbie,

2 (43m 50s):
I was so proud of Kim, but I knew what it was. As soon as I saw it, I was like, oh, it killing me ne but Kim didn’t know what it was. And she was like, totally going for it. And I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, you should try it. She totally,

3 (44m 3s):
And you’re there. Right?

2 (44m 5s):
I was so proud of you and the other

3 (44m 7s):
Girls who it up,

2 (44m 8s):
But the German girl tried. She was like, she spit it out. And it’s so funny because she didn’t really speak that good of English, which I was just so proud of her for like, gosh, good for you. You know, you really only speak German and you’re still a woman traveling by yourself, which is amazing. But they did bring out like the cooked Kibby. And so when they, yeah, she was so funny. Cause she was like looking at me like, what is it? And then I to the Kibby name and then I was like final or whatever it was that I said. And she got that like, oh, okay. This is the before. And this is the after.

4 (44m 38s):
But no, it was so good. So beyond just the normal appetizers they brought out and what that region is famous for, for their meat pies, we had chicken shawarma on a plate with mounds of garlic sauce, French fries, like Lebanese coleslaw. It was so, so good. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Yeah.

6 (44m 57s):
We arrived to the table and there was all of these apps on there. So it was like Mesa and we’re filling up. And then finally, after we’re done filling up, we get another plate, which is our meat plate, our chicken shawarma, everything. It’s like, oh my God, how are we going to keep eating? But you find a way you find a way to do it.

4 (45m 13s):
Well after Baalbek we moved on from the restaurant there and we went to Casada, which is a famous winery and wine region of Lebanon.

3 (45m 26s):
Oh yeah. Not only did we get a via to tour to Baalbek that had breakfast and lunch, but we got wine tasting with it. Fucking amazing St. And loved it.

2 (45m 36s):
So Under normal circumstances, yes, I would have loved it. But throughout the entire day I was slowly feeling not good. And so by the time we got to Cassara way, it was maybe like three, four o’clock or something like that. I don’t know. But I was not feeling well at all. And you get three wines to taste. And by the time the second one came out, I was just like, I can’t even, and you could just see it on my face. How like over everything I was, I don’t think like I was irritable or mean,

4 (46m 11s):
Yeah,

2 (46m 11s):
I think you could just see them

3 (46m 13s):
For sure.

6 (46m 14s):
Let’s vote. How many people think Zena had a freak out and was irritable at this point? Fear of three out of four.

4 (46m 21s):
I know our listeners can’t see hands up, but hands are up.

2 (46m 24s):
I looked at everyone. I said, I’m going to go to the bathroom. Cause I was just not feel, what did I say? Did I say

3 (46m 30s):
You did? And by the way, the wine tasting was amazing, but this place was awesome. They had like a whole wine cave. They took us through a tour through, I’ve been in a couple of wineries that have caves. This was a massive cave, very impressive cave.

4 (46m 42s):
It really went deep in there. I think they said something like they had like 15,000 barrels in there. And so it was like corridor after corridor within the Cape. But all

2 (46m 50s):
Jokes are over a million bottles in there.

4 (46m 52s):
Yeah. But all jokes aside and giving Zana shit about the freak out. I mean, we’re giving her a hard time. She really was starting to feel sick on the trip and start to have like strep throat. So we understand. I know, I know we’re just giving, you know, a hard time nonetheless,

2 (47m 8s):
But I don’t realize that I’m getting

3 (47m 10s):
Him out of period every day. We haven’t even discussed this yet.

4 (47m 13s):
I don’t know about a freak out of the day. I don’t know what you guys are talking about. But anyway,

2 (47m 18s):
When we were in the tunnels real quickly, when we were in the tunnels touring the winery, I did end up speaking to one of the guys in the tour with us. He was an older gentleman from New York American. And he looked at me and he said, you know, they told us we shouldn’t really come, but here we are. And he mentioned how he’s having a great time. So just want to throw that out there, go to Lebanon. It’s a great time. The guy from New York said so too.

4 (47m 39s):
Yeah.

6 (47m 39s):
Yeah. It was a great time. The caves were beautiful. They actually discovered them because there was a Fox in the region that captured a chicken from someone that lived there around the area and it disappeared underground. And so they went to go find it because this Fox kept capturing chickens and eating

4 (47m 57s):
Them local farmer

6 (47m 59s):
From a local farmer. And they actually that’s how they discovered all of the caves and turned it into a winery. I think it was already a winery from the Roman era, but

4 (48m 9s):
They had some monks there and there was a winery from there. And so now they started to use it as a storage space. If I remember the story correctly to the store, the barrels of wine. Yeah.

6 (48m 17s):
Yeah. It was impressive. So our tour came with three.

3 (48m 21s):
Also use it to take safety.

4 (48m 23s):
Well, they were talking about, I think something during world war one, they stored some people and hid some people in there for safety. But I don’t remember the full story, but you are correct that you did use the caves to hide people during world war one.

6 (48m 37s):
It’s crazy. So our tour came with three wine tastings, but she threw in a fourth wine taste that she

3 (48m 44s):
Loved us

6 (48m 45s):
And it was a nice sweet wine

4 (48m 47s):
Was good.

2 (48m 47s):
And you know what? I gave mine to Kim because she never gives me shit about my freak outs

4 (48m 51s):
Until we’re recording because she raised her hand a few forgot

2 (48m 55s):
She did. But then she said that like, Zana didn’t really have a freak

4 (48m 58s):
Out. I don’t want, I said you were sick. I gave you credit to

3 (49m 1s):
No, I didn’t say that.

4 (49m 3s):
But so anyway, that pretty much concluded our tour that we purchased through Vitor. Obviously they took us back to Beirut, but what a deal for a hundred dollars, all the food that we got, the three sites that we got to go to an jar Baalbek it included our entrance fees, the wine. But as soon as we got back into Beirut, our cousin Waleed wanted to take us out to dinner, even though we had just had lunch a little bit ago.

6 (49m 29s):
Well, one last thing I wanted to say about the winery before you moved on Jamal, was that when you got to the winery, if you weren’t satisfied with just the three wine tasting, there was an option to upgrade and pay the difference for more tastings because we got the amateur tasting, but they did have like two other tasting that offered higher quality wines for professional wine tastes. For those

3 (49m 51s):
More developed

4 (49m 52s):
For the more developed palace, more high-end wine and more tastings in the three. Right? I think it was like five tasting and better wine.

6 (49m 58s):
It was one that had like five and I think one that had six. So we get back to Beirut and we felt like we had been eating all day. We had some done each in the morning. Then we had the can Napi at Lucky’s suite

3 (50m 11s):
With us.

6 (50m 12s):
Yeah. We took cocky bread. And we had that with us still too. And we get back to Beirut and Walid says to us, are you guys ready for dinner? We have reservations at eight 30.

3 (50m 23s):
And this is when I realized I will never go hungry in Lebanon,

4 (50m 29s):
Never go hungry 11 on it. There’s one thing the Lebanese are famous for. It’s their food and hospitality. And you know, we experienced all of that. So we had reservations and you know, it’s in the Lebanese culture to take care of guests. Number one. But one thing we didn’t mention was Walid was actually here in the states a week, two weeks before we were even in Lebanon. Cause he was out here on a business conference. So we were taking care of him while he was here. He was taking care of us while we were out there. So it was just kind of like a mutual exchange, but also part of culture. So nonetheless, we had some more Mesa for dinner, which absolutely amazing what was

6 (51m 4s):
The restaurant called

2 (51m 5s):
Tom Butta.

6 (51m 6s):
It was so good. And while we did all of the ordering for us again, and gosh, the table did not go empty.

3 (51m 14s):
Serious question. Did you guys like the Lebanese sausage or the Armenian sausage? More

4 (51m 20s):
Armenian sausage

2 (51m 21s):
Ooh, yay. The Armenian is referred to, as , nothing can compare to the Italian beef Kenyan sausage is referred to as Sisou and I love so much.

6 (51m 36s):
Yeah. So not only we did, we have multiple types of sausage. We had vine leaves. We had hummus with me kid be coughed potatoes. Oh my God. Their potatoes are, so

3 (51m 48s):
What are they called? Arabic

4 (51m 49s):
Words. But

6 (51m 51s):
That we had fried cheese rolls. Ooh we had so many good things.

2 (51m 58s):
And then just to throw out the restaurant was located in homina, which if you remember, when we first got there and we went to , it’s the same district. And so Hamada area is kind of like their rodeo drive. It definitely looks a little bit different, but that’s their main shopping district there in Lebanon. And they have all of these cafes around.

6 (52m 15s):
So he basically rolled out of there, like physically someone had to roll this out because we had been eating all day. We went home, went to sleep. And the next day we had a Beirut City Tour planned with Jamal and Dana’s cousin Haysom I

2 (52m 32s):
Love high some yoga Dates,

6 (52m 35s):
Shout out to high school.

4 (52m 36s):
Yeah. So he wanted to take us specifically on a Beirut City toward, as a matter of fact, you know, he has his normal profession. He works at one of the American schools out there in Beirut, but he’s been charged sometimes when Americans come to be stationed and work out there that he takes them around and shows them the ropes. And so now he’s gotten really accustomed to giving tours and he’s actually starting a business himself of giving tours of Lebanon, they route. So he gave us the works with a Beirut City Tour. And even though yes, it does. And even though it was a city tour, mostly turned into an eating all day tour because the first thing he did was take us to breakfast.

4 (53m 19s):
And where did he take us ladies?

2 (53m 21s):
He took us to . I almost didn’t make it to this one because remember yesterday I was, I wasn’t feeling very well. Well, nurse, Brittany examined me and I had strep throat, which I haven’t had since I was like 15 years old. So luckily I had antibiotics and I went with you guys, but I almost didn’t make it. Cause I was miserable.

3 (53m 39s):
This be a learning lesson to you guys get Cipro, which isn’t just for Traveler’s diarrhea. It is an antibiotic that can help you in many situations,

4 (53m 48s):
Broad spectrum antibiotic.

2 (53m 50s):
Exactly what I would’ve done without it.

3 (53m 52s):
Exactly. I mean, we all usually purchase traveler insurance when we go on a trip. But in this case, Dana, would’ve had to go to a doctor, get the prescription. It would have wasted hours of her day, but she already had the prescription with her. Boom, boom, boom. She took it. She put her panties up and just kept on keeping on

2 (54m 12s):
Because I could barely swallow it when I woke up and Kim can attest to the way that I sounded my throat was so sore. It was so swollen. I could barely swallow. And then by the time I woke up the next day, I was like, oh my gosh, my throat’s like at a two, I feel so much better.

3 (54m 24s):
And we’d been in Lebanon for just a couple of days. But when you travel, like you are susceptible to getting illnesses from the airport or the airplane or whatever. And it just, it just happens.

4 (54m 34s):
Yeah. Cause you’re tired and your body just gets weaker. So you’re more prone to getting sickness, but nonetheless, let’s

6 (54m 42s):
Get back to this breath.

4 (54m 44s):
That’s what I was going to say because he took us to, how do you say it again saying I’m not

2 (54m 49s):
Dom

4 (54m 52s):
Yes. So we had , which is a very traditional and famous Lebanese breakfast. And before we get into describing what it is, the restaurant that we went to was actually really famous. It’s featured on CNN. The best breakfast is from around the world. And this one is ranked obviously as you know, the best traditional like Lebanese breakfast. So out of all of like Lebanon, you know, this one is ranked number one as the best place to go. And with its ranking, it’s not even expensive, very cost effective and you know, middle Eastern prices, not expensive at all. And why don’t you ladies tell us what Fetty is.

2 (55m 28s):
It was so good. That’s what it is. Oh my gosh.

6 (55m 31s):
The only way that I can think to describe it is like almost like a chick pea porridge with yogurt sauce on top topped with pine nuts.

4 (55m 39s):
Yeah. Like a garlic yogurt of sorts. And it has the pine nuts. And then you almost forgot cause why it gets named Fetty almost like fetish with the crunched up Peter bread. So it has the toasted pita bread on top of it as well. That’s fried. So it gives it that texture crunch with the pine nuts and it has the seasoning. It is absolutely de malicious.

6 (55m 59s):
And we got a bull each, which a bull is enough to feed too, but I had all of mine. And then on top of that high, some ordered us eggs with me and a whole bunch of other dishes to have alongside our breakfast.

2 (56m 11s):
He’s so sweet. Kim asked the night before, do they have eggs? And so he made sure that we had eggs. So hospitable. Thank you. Hi Sam.

6 (56m 20s):
Thank you. Hi some, I don’t even think when we woke up, we were hungry, but we sure did enjoy breakfast.

2 (56m 25s):
so from there first off a high SIM, he knows a lot of people. So he hired a taxi for us that day and they just kind of drove us around throughout Beirut. And so from there we went to the American university of Beirut. I went there for my study abroad year and it’s just a beautiful campus. There’s an upper and lower campus. And on the upper campus, it’s right there on the Mediterranean too. So on upper campus, you get beautiful views of the Mediterranean sea.

4 (56m 51s):
Yeah, it was really nice. And we went there one because it does give you the good views. As Zayna said, even though it’s not a park, it’s one of the largest parks in Beirut in terms of just like natural, like open landscape of trees, greenery, et cetera, because Beirut truly is an urban sprawl, but they do have a large feral cat population. But even though they’re yeah, even though they’re feral, they’re so used to all the international students that are there. And so they’re really, really friendly. So they’ll come up to, you want to be pat. And so even if you have no association to AUB, if you go to Lebanon or Beirut in particular, you should definitely go and check it out. Really good views from up top of the Mediterranean.

4 (57m 33s):
And it’s just fun to stroll and see the cats. If you want to be honest, I know that sounds silly, but that’s, I find that to be fun, just playing with the cats. We had a good time,

2 (57m 40s):
Depending on the situation though, they might not let you in on campus.

3 (57m 43s):
We had a bit of a trouble getting on campus so that we were going to meet up with a professor. So a little trick you could probably use is to find a professor’s name and just say, you’re going to go meet him on campus.

4 (57m 53s):
Maybe you’ll get lucky, but truly we actually were going to go Truly. We were going to go meet a professor, a family friend of ours who is really high out Zayna went to school there. My dad actually taught there, went to school there himself, but we still have an association to someone who still teaches there. And that’s how we were able to get on. Usually you’re able to get on, but with the current situation, now they’re just being more cautious on who they let on, unless you’re really a student

2 (58m 16s):
Going back to those cats though. Remember the cat that only had one ear.

4 (58m 20s):
It was so cute. I, I wanted to take it home and pack it and bring it back here to San Diego. And it’s

6 (58m 24s):
A little tongue sticking out the whole time,

2 (58m 27s):
Little cute tongue out of his mouth with one ear, just sitting there begging pet me.

6 (58m 33s):
And it got,

4 (58m 35s):
It was so cute. But after seeing our family friend who is a professor there and just enjoying the beautiful campus of the American university, we also went to pigeon rocks or an Arabic. You would call it arousal. And it’s a very famous rock formation on the coast, in the Mediterranean sea where these two rocks looked like a pair of shorts and a foot just coming out of the water. And yeah, so it’s two structures, but it’s all one cause the right by each other. But yes, two structures. And very recently they had the red bull cliff diving off of those rocks. So if you Google like red bull bay route, you’ll see the cliff diving off of those rocks.

4 (59m 16s):
And they’ll just give you a little bit of perspective, but we went there cause it’s a famous landmark gives you good views of the sea, but they also do have a cafe that is there that we went to the bay rock cafe and we enjoyed some coffee and smoking some hookah while we were enjoying views of the Mediterranean

3 (59m 33s):
Was so much

2 (59m 33s):
Fun in the sunshine.

4 (59m 34s):
Yeah. The only day that we really had sunny in Lebanon was the day that we did the Beirut City Tour, which was really, really nice.

6 (59m 41s):
Yeah. Well we did pack our umbrellas, but we didn’t really have to use them much. And it was so nice to be outside in the sunshine on the Mediterranean admiring the pigeon rocks and smoking hookah at Bayrock cafe with beautiful views.

4 (59m 54s):
What did you think of pigeon rocks Kim?

3 (59m 57s):
It was gorgeous. It reminded me of Thailand on a much smaller scale, but it was beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful. And I liked the place that we went to have coffee, which is right in front of it. We had the view of the rocks and the water and the hookah and the sunshine. It was a beautiful place, but we had outdoor seating and the chairs were pink and I really liked the five. They’re beautiful.

2 (1h 0m 16s):
There are people around there that do do boat tours. And so high. Some at one point was talking with one of them about us going down. He said it was going to take 20 minutes, but we thought it might take a little bit more, but just something to keep in mind that you can go in the water and do a boat tour around it.

6 (1h 0m 32s):
Yeah, but we wanted to get to downtown Beirut because this is our first day. Even though we’re in Lebanon, staying in Beirut, this is the first day we’re really downtown exploring the city and high. Some wanted to give us a city tour. What was really interesting was a lot of downtown was blocked because of the recent protest we had seen. So we did go to the downtown areas, but we would walk by shops that had been looted essentially where the window had been knocked down. And like there was like a Puma store that the protesters had broken into and stolen all of the merchandise. And so in downtown Beirut, they had barbed wire along some of the downtown area to help keep people and protesters away from,

4 (1h 1m 16s):
Well, the barbed wire area was just a circle around the parliament building. So it’s really keeping the lawmakers more so protected than anything else. And that’s why they had that areas. But the downtown Beirut area after the civil war that went from like 1975 to 1990, they spend a lot of money to rebuild the downtown area, do it. And the old like stone building structures that they had, you know, before the war, like in the 1940s, fifties to give it that really classical feel. And it’s turned into a very popular nightlife area with shops, restaurants, high-end boutiques. But very recently because of the protest that started in October now they’ve barbed wired off some of the area, those beautiful limestone buildings are now graffitied up with like anti-government sentiment some of the areas again, looted.

4 (1h 2m 5s):
So it’s really crazy. You know, all the protests seem to be happening in that area. And again, you know, at night during the day, it’s fine, but it’s like a big disparity going from one area where life is functioning normally. And then you get to the downtown area. And I don’t want to describe it as a war zone, but it’s really like crazy yet in that area, safe if you’re not there during the protest, but just really crazy disparity.

3 (1h 2m 26s):
It’s crazy to see because you say war zone and it’s not a war zone, but there are tons of military and military vehicles and soldiers with guns, like huge guns all around the area, which in America, you don’t see as much in other countries. Sometimes you do. But that was, I mean, it could seem alarming, but they’re more there for the people safety, which is a good sign. And we actually had a scare, like we were, we weren’t trying to be at this place at night, but we were walking amongst. It was very busy people everywhere. It was starting to pick up and we were like, oh, maybe we should start moving along.

4 (1h 3m 0s):
They knew there was going to be another protest there that night,

3 (1h 3m 2s):
Every night the protests were happening. So we’re like, oh, maybe we should start moving along. Like, it’s getting a little bit late. And these children, they were asking for money. And then they flashed what appeared to be a gun. And we were like, oh my God, like, we’re so scared. Like, holy shit, these fucking kids have a gun. We’re like, oh my God, what the fuck? But it turns out it was a toy gun. So everything was fine. But it was like a little scary at first. And we’re like, oh my God. Oh my God.

4 (1h 3m 23s):
Yeah. We were even telling our cousin about, and he’s like, what? This little kid he’s like, are you crazy? It’s like, there’s a member of the military right there. He’s not going to do it. He thinks it’s a toy gun, but you know them over there. I guess they’re kind of used to those things where for people like us who aren’t, it’s a little bit more jarring.

3 (1h 3m 37s):
I just show you like we weren’t, we didn’t let the protest stop us from going, but we weren’t stupid either. Like we’re not going to stay around where they’re having protests. And I mean, it did get violent every night, but we weren’t trying to be a part of it.

2 (1h 3m 49s):
We do rally online to announce where the protest is going to be. So you ha you, you know, what’s going on. So that’s fine. But the night that we arrived ended up being one of the most violent protests of all. And so at that point, the army started using tear gas. So the army downtown had their gas masks ready for later that night and high Sam was saying that, you know, when he was talking with some of the military, you can just see how on edge they are because no one wants to go through that. Right. They’re the ones that have to break up all the protesters or whatnot, but they’re ready to go. They’re ready to rock because Heisman was talking to the military people simply because there is a huge clock tower that is there.

2 (1h 4m 33s):
Yes. And it is a Rolex, huge clock tower inside where the parliament area is. And under normal circumstances you can go in. But right now it’s being barbed wired all the way around. And so he kept asking different people, if there’s any way that we can go in there, which there was not.

6 (1h 4m 52s):
What’s crazy though, is the Barb wire isn’t like on top of offense. In most cases, it was like on the street levels, there was one point where I was talking with Jamal and his back was to the barbed wire and he backed up a step and it was like, oh shit, you could be cut. But we did get to see from afar, the Rolex watch tower. We also got to see some of the high-end stores. And we went by the, I love Beirut sign. So we’ve been by the sign in Amsterdam and it’s been like super, super, super crowded. But when we were there in Beirut, we were the only people taking pictures next to the side.

4 (1h 5m 24s):
Yeah. You know what I really think it is. I think it’s a couple things. One we’re in Lebanon during the off season of travel time, too. I think just with the protests right now, even normal tourism that would come in the off season really isn’t there. And downtown Beirut is now like ground zero for the protests. So not a lot of people are really going there right now, unless you’re going there to be at night for the protests or you’re a government worker working in the downtown buildings or some of the shops that are still open in the area. But what’s really funny is like you hear in the news, all these protests and we were thinking about it before we go. But if you’re not in downtown and you’re a couple blocks away in a different region, like life is functioning as normal.

4 (1h 6m 7s):
It’s just really in those regions. So it was really kind of surreal to be in a capital’s downtown, like real, real downtown, and just kind of be somewhat of a ghost town. It was surreal. It was eerie, but there’s a lot of history in the downtown area and they have Roman baths in there. Roman ruins, even in the downtown area,

3 (1h 6m 26s):
Things look very French. Yeah.

2 (1h 6m 28s):
One thing that we didn’t mention is that they do have a huge mosque downtown as well. And this was built by our former prime minister and he spent about 50 million of his own dollars. He is a billionaire. He spent about 50 million of his own money just to construct that mosque. And I believe that’s his final resting place. Cause he was assassinated there in Beirut in 2005.

6 (1h 6m 52s):
So after we got to see you, what we could see of downtown Kim was on the brink of a freakout.

3 (1h 7m 1s):
I’m not even going to deny it because it’s true. I was angry. I was angry. I was about to eat someone’s head.

2 (1h 7m 8s):
We had breakfast wet at 9 30, 10 o’clock. And by now it’s like four

3 (1h 7m 12s):
O’clock and I’m still hungry. I’m like,

8 (1h 7m 15s):
I don’t even care, whatever it comes with, where the closest place just buried, man.

2 (1h 7m 21s):
I remember

3 (1h 7m 21s):
Being like, oh shit,

2 (1h 7m 23s):
We’re were on the way to the restaurant. And someone asked him a question and she shook her head and she’s like, I don’t care. And the way that shuts down, I was like, whoa, Kim never gets mad. And Kian is like, whoa, she’s having a freak out, man.

4 (1h 7m 35s):
Yeah. Cause we were trying to figure out where we wanted to go high some water to take us someplace in particular, you know, based on what we said we wanted to eat. But at that point we just decided to go to one of the three options that was closest because Kim was on the verge of her hangry freak out. So we went to kebab.

3 (1h 7m 52s):
He was like, let’s just find the classes

4 (1h 7m 54s):
Maybe. But we ended up going to kebab G, which is a famous shawarma place. And we had a which tell us what that is. I know

2 (1h 8m 4s):
is meat wrapped in pita bread.

4 (1h 8m 8s):
It was almost like a shawarma, but not like more like kabob style meat.

2 (1h 8m 11s):
I think that there’s a difference between they do like shwarma versus your stove. The way that they cook the chicken shish

3 (1h 8m 16s):
Kebab makes sense. There you

4 (1h 8m 18s):
Go. Really traditional middle Eastern food.

6 (1h 8m 21s):
Got it all. So this, I would say it was probably at like 4:00 PM. We’re eating lunch. And we briefly go back to our apartment, which is what leads apartment before we ended up meeting up with Zena’s friend, Layla, who she’s known for a long time for an eight 30 dinner. That’s

3 (1h 8m 37s):
Common time for dinner. 8 30, 8 30.

4 (1h 8m 40s):
Yeah.

2 (1h 8m 40s):
It really is. I mean, I remember coming to Lebanon once and I was talking with Layla on Facebook messenger and she’s like, wait, you’re here. And I was like, yeah, I just got here. And she’s like, oh, okay. Me and my husband are going to come pick you up. And it was like 11 o’clock at night. And then we went out for like this big feast that night. Like it’s just so standard to eat late. I feel like.

6 (1h 8m 60s):
So where did we go with Layla?

2 (1h 9m 2s):
We went to cafe, which is in the Zaytuna bay. The Zaytuna bay is more of a newer area. When I left Lebanon, they were still under construction. And it’s just a new area right there on the Mediterranean.

4 (1h 9m 13s):
Yeah. It’s like a little region shop area that they’ve built right by the Harbor where all the rich people dock their yachts. So hence the bay in Zaytuna bay.

6 (1h 9m 23s):
So surprise, surprise. We had Mesa for dinner

2 (1h 9m 26s):
And it was delicious. It

6 (1h 9m 27s):
Was so

3 (1h 9m 27s):
Good.

4 (1h 9m 29s):
It was really, it was really good. But considering all the middle Eastern food that we had been eating, one thing in particular was a standout this night. And why don’t you ladies tell us about it?

3 (1h 9m 40s):
The dessert

2 (1h 9m 41s):
We had which literally means the girl’s hair. So it’s

3 (1h 9m 47s):
Not hair,

2 (1h 9m 49s):
It’s not hair at all.

6 (1h 9m 50s):
So it’s inside is a really thick, creamy, delicious ice cream and surrounding it is like a nest of this cotton candy. And then it’s topped with typically pistachios and

3 (1h 10m 5s):
Crystallized rose pedals,

6 (1h 10m 8s):
Rose pedals. So it’s very beautiful as well. And I had never heard of this, never had it before and my God did it impress.

2 (1h 10m 15s):
Ooh. And it was big enough to where it fed all four of us, five for Layla and six for her friend. Rola so, ah, just major, shout out to Layla. You guys I’ve known her for like over 15 years and she’s a really good friend.

3 (1h 10m 27s):
She’s a Swedish.

6 (1h 10m 28s):
Great. We all just needed a few bites each because we were stuffed from dinner, still stuffed from lunch. Still probably

3 (1h 10m 35s):
Stuff from all of our Days in Lebanon thus far.

2 (1h 10m 39s):
So from there, we went out with Layla and Roula to the Jamaica districts that used to be kind of where you would go to party. But over the past few years, it’s kind of moved to the area. So either one you’re going to find bars, but this is the night that the new government was announced. So a lot of people were afraid of going out. So when we were driving down the street there in , most of the places were closed. So Layla had a few places in mind like, oh, let’s go here. Let’s go here for drinks. But they’re all dead because no one wanted to go out. So finally we settled on Poloma and this is supposed to be a party area. They were saying how under normal circumstances you’re like sitting on top of people because it’s so packed, but it was pretty much empty.

6 (1h 11m 24s):
Yeah, there wasn’t very many people there, but good drinks and Jamal was starting to have a freak out by the end of this night.

4 (1h 11m 31s):
I wasn’t starting to have a freak out. I just wasn’t starting. I wasn’t feeling well in general. And as Dana said, this was the night that the new government was announced. And what we mean by that is, as we said, they were having government protests against the establishment. So the people called for a new government to help solve the problem. So they dismantled the old one and they announced the new one and the new one was nothing but the old one, so people were pissed and we were right by the downtown area and it could have spilled into that region. Cause we were like one block, two blocks away from where the protests were happening, but outside of it.

4 (1h 12m 13s):
But like I said, I was just for whatever reason, really full from all the food, tired, starting to feel sick. So I wouldn’t call it a freak out. It’s just, it was like 12 o’clock at night and I was ready to rock.

6 (1h 12m 26s):
So I will say this on this Lebanon trip, I got the least amount of sleep I’ve ever gotten on any vacation. I’ve gone on every single night,

3 (1h 12m 35s):
Single time I got into the car, I fell asleep. If it was two minutes,

6 (1h 12m 39s):
Like we were up every night or out till like 11, 12, and then we each needed to shower and then get up early in the morning and all of our D started super early. So we got like four hours of sleep. Max, every single day

3 (1h 12m 55s):
Really felt 30 on this trip because they kept asking for more sleep. And I have never done that before.

6 (1h 13m 2s):
So the next day is Wednesday and it is our last full day in Lebanon. And we had plans to wake up first thing in the morning and go to Biblios

3 (1h 13m 13s):
Jamal didn’t want to go to biblicist.

6 (1h 13m 14s):
Jamal had been shit talking bit blows the entire

4 (1h 13m 17s):
Well, truly the plan wasn’t biblical. Technically at this point, it was to go to a RESA, which we’ll talk about what that is in just a second. But the plan was to go with high some and he was going to take us, give us a tour, potentially go to biblical as well. But he was going to take us by hiring a taxi because he’s really good friends with the taxi driver and the taxi companies. And you know, you could rent the car for the day, but because the night before they announced the new government, they had some road closures, no taxi companies or drivers were willing to drive and fear that they would get stuck or the roads would be closed. So while lead said, you know what, I’ll play hooky from work today. Let’s just try our luck and see if we could get there.

4 (1h 13m 59s):
Because the road that we took was one of the ones that was closed. And we thought like, we’ll either go the long way around it or we’ll park our car where it’s closed and take a taxi from there. So we were trying to risk it. Well,

2 (1h 14m 13s):
We’d have to walk.

3 (1h 14m 14s):
We were sitting around the kitchen table having money each for breakfast. So fucking good and talking about, okay, it’s about 12 miles to Biblios how’s I want to dig is to walk a mile like 30 minutes. Okay. That’s six hours. I’m like, okay, it’ll take you six hours. Okay. I think we can do this guys easy days today. I think we can do this.

2 (1h 14m 34s):
And Jamal was like, no,

9 (1h 14m 36s):
No, no, no,

2 (1h 14m 37s):
No.

3 (1h 14m 38s):
But it did work out with Wally taking us. And there were no road closures, but we were legit about to walk there.

6 (1h 14m 43s):
There was a road closure, but then it was forced open by military force and right when it opened and it came on the news while lead was like, let’s go guys, let’s go,

3 (1h 14m 53s):
Go, go,

6 (1h 14m 53s):
Go. He got his car. And we jam packed in and went to

2 (1h 14m 57s):
On the way there though. Remember, cause it was a hundred percent for her RESA, but not a hundred percent for biblio. So we got to the place where it was a fork in the road and Walid was like, come on guys. I need to just, are we going to do business or not? And we’re like, yes, yes, yes. And Jamal is still trying to say no, no, no. So basically the girls won and we went to Buffalo. So you remember

3 (1h 15m 16s):
That? You want something?

4 (1h 15m 18s):
No, I don’t remember. But anyway, so we made our way to big blows, which locally it’s known as Azure bail and it’s about 22 miles north of Beirut. And again, another UNESCO heritage site. That’s what I love about loving on such a small country and so many UNESCO sites.

2 (1h 15m 40s):
I mean like middle east, this is where Hey says from, you know,

4 (1h 15m 45s):
This is where a human beings originated for that matter. If you

3 (1h 15m 49s):
Want to get its name from Goodlow’s

4 (1h 15m 51s):
Viv Lowe’s is one of the origins of the name Bible. Yes. Wow. Yes. Yes. So was first occupied between the years, 8,800 to 7,000 BC. And they know for sure that it’s been continuously inhabited since 5,000 BC making it one of the oldest, continuously inhabited cities in the world, in the

3 (1h 16m 14s):
World.

4 (1h 16m 15s):
As a matter of fact, the oldest sea port in the world is in Biblios that’s

3 (1h 16m 20s):
Still being used today.

4 (1h 16m 21s):
Yeah.

6 (1h 16m 22s):
Crazy use today, oldest and most continuously used port. Well,

3 (1h 16m 26s):
We don’t get that kind of history in California.

6 (1h 16m 28s):
No we don’t.

3 (1h 16m 29s):
Or in the United States at all,

2 (1h 16m 30s):
We have a California railroad museum

4 (1h 16m 34s):
From the 1800

3 (1h 16m 35s):
Elbow park.

4 (1h 16m 37s):
But you know, it’s really interesting though about Biblios is the ruins that are there because the original inhabitants of the area are called the Phoenicians and they have the original ruins there. And then another ancient culture, I believe it was the Greeks they built on top of that. And then after the Greeks, it was the Roman. So it’s this one city with ruins after ruins built on top from different cultures and origins, which is so, so interesting.

3 (1h 17m 4s):
It was really cool because you actually could see the layers in the ruins. It was like, wow, wow, wow, this is so old, crazy.

6 (1h 17m 11s):
And so we went into the Citadel and the ruins and you can just explore the whole area. And then there was years after stairs to get to like this top area that had a great outlook to the Mediterranean. And then you can go down and explore the grounds and see like their old amphitheater. And there was like a bird watching box and there was old train tracks that went through the area as well. It was just really cool to go out and explore the grounds. And it was pretty affordable for example, Jamal and Zayna they asked like the guy at the front, Hey, if we tell them what we’re Lebanese do you think we can get in for a cheaper price and for the Lebanese, it’s only 5,000 Lira. And again, 1,500 Lira is $1.

6 (1h 17m 53s):
So it’s not very much to get in for Americans. It was 8,001.

4 (1h 17m 56s):
Well, not for Americans for non-Lebanese let’s put it that way.

2 (1h 17m 59s):
We did have a sign that Lebanese are the 5,000, but Walid was saying that like, okay, we’ll just do one Lebanese and for non-Lebanese. And I was like, no, no, no, Jamal and I are fine, you know? And so he told him and he’s like, yeah, okay, fine.

3 (1h 18m 13s):
Me and Brittany Ortiz,

4 (1h 18m 15s):
But

2 (1h 18m 15s):
We really are. We really

4 (1h 18m 17s):
It’s true.

3 (1h 18m 18s):
Yeah. I am at heart

2 (1h 18m 19s):
Part of the family, Kim.

6 (1h 18m 21s):
Huh? So what did we do after we explored where did we head to next?

2 (1h 18m 26s):
How do you say, wait, wait real quickly though. So Jamal for someone who really didn’t want to go to blows, can you let our listeners know? What did you think?

4 (1h 18m 35s):
I enjoyed my time very much.

3 (1h 18m 36s):
He loved,

4 (1h 18m 38s):
I enjoyed my time very much. As a matter of fact, it’s really nice because up in that area, again, you see the ruins it’s right along the water, which is also really pretty. You could almost feel like you’re in Greece a little bit, you know, on the Mediterranean with those types of ruins. But I feel like in biblical that’s the clearest and bluest water I had seen on the entire trip was in that area. So it made it extra nice.

2 (1h 19m 1s):
I think Jamal also kept saying what is there to do in blows? And really you could spend hours there just exploring the ruins. Yeah.

3 (1h 19m 9s):
There’s also tons of shops along the alleyways and street bays. Tons of shops for like magnets and little knickknacks

6 (1h 19m 16s):
Souvenirs. Did you know that later Jamal told me Biblica was his favorite thing and place we went and Lebanon

2 (1h 19m 23s):
Really

3 (1h 19m 23s):
Fucking serious.

4 (1h 19m 26s):
No, Brittany, that’s not true. I

3 (1h 19m 28s):
Did not say that. I

4 (1h 19m 31s):
Was no, it’s not because I didn’t want to go. I thought there was other stuff that we could do in Beirut that was different. I didn’t want to run the risk of getting caught up there with the road closures, but we’re past that. We went, we had a good time after that. We made our way to Zuni and heresa. Now just so you guys are familiar. Zuni is a little bit north of Beirut, not too far north. And that’s the city at the bottom of the hill. Heresa is the city at the top of the hill and they have a cable car that goes from Zuni to harissa. But the main attraction beyond the view from the top is they do have a Virgin Mary statue. That’s called our lady of Lebanon and they have a big Catholic church at the top.

4 (1h 20m 15s):
It’s very famous because Pope John Paul, the second has actually been there and given service and mass at that location. But it just gives you an amazing view from the top of the mountain down to the Mediterranean, you could see Beirut, you can see the city of Juni below. So, so beautiful.

6 (1h 20m 33s):
Let’s talk about the cable car. It is, first of all, it is a long cable car. It’s 1,570 meters long. So there was five of us, Jamal and we’ll lead got into one cable car and the girls got into the other, but let’s hear your experience in the cable car. Kim.

3 (1h 20m 50s):
I mostly held it together until it started going more vertical. And then I was really freaked out.

2 (1h 20m 55s):
Well, I thought it was kind of not funny, but funny that as three are in the cars, so you can only fit like X amount of people in the cars. So we decided

4 (1h 21m 3s):
To, and

3 (1h 21m 4s):
They’re made in the fifties.

2 (1h 21m 5s):
Yeah, they’re old. And so we were like, okay, we’ll divide ourselves by sexes. So the girls went first and you’re already high up because it’s like on the second floor. And then you cross the street with the cable car and then once you cross the street, then you ascend at about an 80% incline. And after we crossed the street, Kim thought it was over and I’m like, oh no, no, Kim look, look up, look up. And then she like realizes, oh my God, we’re about to go up practically vertical to the top of a mountain.

3 (1h 21m 34s):
Cuttack Tron and Shanghai Disney. And I’m freaking the fuck out.

6 (1h 21m 39s):
So Zayna and Kim are freaking out and the cable

2 (1h 21m 42s):
Car, it’s just, you know, like I was a little nervous, but I wasn’t freaked

6 (1h 21m 45s):
Out, but I was really enjoying the beautiful views of the Mediterranean. And then we make it to the top of the cable cars. But this is not the top. We quickly learned that. So from here you can either take an elevator to heresa or you can do the walking path. And of course it was an easy day. So we took the walking path to the top. And then once you get to heresa, you get to a beautiful balcony and they call it the balcony of Lebanon and they think we’ll eat said, you can see like two thirds of Lebanon standing at that balcony looking out because you can see the north and the south. What you can’t really see is like the inland valley of Lebanon.

6 (1h 22m 25s):
Lebanon

3 (1h 22m 26s):
Is about the size of Delaware. Yes,

2 (1h 22m 28s):
Yes. That

3 (1h 22m 28s):
Is very small.

6 (1h 22m 30s):
Yeah. Not very big.

2 (1h 22m 31s):
It is 9,000 Lira for adults to get to the top round trip and then 11,000 on the weekends. So very affordable, very cheap. Remember we were talking about blackouts. It has been known to happen there too, but they’ve got a generator and they just get it back up. I’ve written it twice and I’ve never, ever had a power outage there. So

4 (1h 22m 51s):
The one thing I do want to say is you can take the cable cars to the top. It’s not the only way to get to the top. Again, a normal city is at the top, so there are roads. So if you’re taking a taxi or others type of transportation, you can get there by road. But the scenic and enjoyable thing to do is to take the cable cars all the way to the top. And it’s definitely really, really nice. Again, you see the statue of the Virgin, Mary. I would equate it to their version of Christ, the Redeemer, just like freestyle, Blanco and Peru. It’s another one that we’ve all been to kind of as the squad. Very, very nice and just amazing, amazing views from the top.

2 (1h 23m 28s):
You say cable card there, they call it telephone Creek. So if you’re looking for the station, it’s the telephone Creek station.

3 (1h 23m 34s):
Another thing to know about the, our lady of Lebanon is that it’s a sacred place. So you should keep your voice. Low people are, they’re praying. They’re, they’re bringing flowers. It’s a very holy place. They have music playing. You’re not supposed to take pictures. You’re supposed to be very respectful there.

6 (1h 23m 49s):
Yeah. And there are stairs on the lady of Lebanon. So you walk up the walking path to the balcony where it is heresa and then where that statue is. There is like a spiral staircase to the top to elevate your view even more.

4 (1h 24m 3s):
And one last little thing I want to throw out as Mondays, they are closed during the winter. And by being closed, we’re referring to the cable car itself. If you still want to make it to the top, you can make the drive. So after her Risa Waleed had one thing in particular that he wanted to do. And this was on our way back into Beirut. We stopped at a restaurant called Manno, and this is in the Armenian district or suburb a little bit north of Beirut. And he wanted to take us here because they have a classical twist on a middle Eastern favorite shawarma. And again, this is the Armenian district. So they have Suzuki shawarma, which is their Armenian sausage, but they make it as if it’s a shawarma sandwich.

4 (1h 24m 47s):
So instead of beef, lamb or chicken, it’s the Armenian sausage. And it was really, really good, definitely worth the visit and beyond mano there. I just want to say, if you do go to Beirut, want to do some shopping, this is the cheapest area to buy lots of stuff in the Armenian district. It’s

2 (1h 25m 5s):
Called Berge Hammad,

3 (1h 25m 7s):
Fake designer handbags.

6 (1h 25m 8s):
And I felt from like the minute we stepped into mano from there on out, we were just on a food tour of Lebanon. And we’re going to have an episode upcoming on international foods. And specifically we’ll be featuring middle Eastern foods and one of these episodes,

3 (1h 25m 23s):
Because we could literally go on forever. There’s so many good things to eat.

6 (1h 25m 26s):
Yeah. So after the Shizuka shwarma we then had falafel, we tried two different falafel places right next to each other that were owned by brothers. We went out for a balaclava.

4 (1h 25m 39s):
Yeah. So the falafel and balaclava and all the suite. So after Moto, which while he took us to, we ended up re hooking back up with our cousin. Hi Sam. So high some is the one who took us to the falafel places, the Bach, Lavon sweet shops, and the falafel place that we went to was really famous because they were two brothers that owned a restaurant and how to fight. And now they have their own restaurants right next to each other with the same family name. But they’re two separate restaurants and they have slightly different falafel recipes. So we did that. And that was really cool to do.

6 (1h 26m 14s):
You got a ton of balaclava by a ton? I mean, we’ve got three full bags of baklava for the last night we were there.

3 (1h 26m 22s):
It wasn’t just baklava. It’s like cakes and candies

6 (1h 26m 27s):
And

3 (1h 26m 27s):
Kilos.

2 (1h 26m 29s):
Yeah. Every tray was half a kilo. A kilo is 2.2 pounds. So we almost got like, what, three pounds of sweet.

3 (1h 26m 36s):
I really connected with high SEM during this food tour.

4 (1h 26m 42s):
I’m glad that you did.

6 (1h 26m 43s):
And so we ended our night in Beirut with just at a family dinner. Again, we’re going to talk about all of the food we ate in another episode, but that is pretty much what we did before Thursday flying out to Dubai. Is there anything else that anyone wants to add in any last final thoughts?

3 (1h 27m 1s):
No, not necessarily about Lebanon. I mean, it was just an amazing place in such a different kind of culture that you don’t get to experience in the U S so I absolutely loved it. I absolutely loved the wonderful airport lounge that we got to stay in. That was amazing. And it was like the best way to kick off our next leg of the trip, which was in Dubai.

4 (1h 27m 20s):
Yeah. The last thing that I want to say is there’s always a lot of negative connotation about the middle east saying it’s unsafe to go to and, you know, rightfully so for certain places. And a lot more recently has been talked about Lebanon just because of the protest and the economic situation. And, you know, I use this as an example. We’ve mentioned it before in other episodes about Mexico and you hear, oh, it’s unsafe. This, that, and the other. Well, I just want to tell you, you know, Lebanon is definitely a very safe country to go to now, can things potentially get worse over there and that change. Yes. But with the travel warnings that the state departments issued now, even though we have family and it made it easier, if you don’t and want to go to Lebanon, believe me, you’re going to have a good time.

4 (1h 28m 5s):
I promise you if you just Google Lebanon, travel and read blogs that you can find about it. Everybody is going to have nothing but nice things to say about Lebanon. I try to say that without a biased opinion of being Lebanese, that’s really the truth.

6 (1h 28m 18s):
I loved all the nature that we thought in Lebanon nature really gets me going. And Lebanon did not disappoint at all from their coastal city views to their mountains, to their waterfalls. I just had a really good time out in nature. One thing I did want to mention is people in Lebanon speak English. So I knew this before because Jamal and Dana are Lebanese. Jamal’s dad first spoke Arabic. Then he learned French. Then he learned English in French, and that is taught as their third language. So I knew that most people in Lebanon speak English.

4 (1h 28m 49s):
Yeah. Most people are educated to be trilingual. So it’s not uncommon. And if people don’t know English, they just probably don’t know it. Well, cause they’re not practiced, but they know enough. Most people definitely know English.

2 (1h 29m 2s):
Lebanon is a really under rated country. That’s often overlooked one Lebanese. And tell me that they’re boring. You just, can’t

3 (1h 29m 11s):
Not a God. The people are so good. They’re so nice. All right. Well, that’s all we have for you this week. Hope you guys enjoyed it. Thank you so much for tuning into our episode this week to keep the adventures going, please be sure to follow us on Instagram at Travel Squad Podcast and tag us in all of your adventures that you’re doing. And of course, in the senior questions of the week,

2 (1h 29m 29s):
If you found the information in this episode to be useful, or you thought we were just playing funny, please share it with a friend that would enjoy it too.

4 (1h 29m 37s):
Please subscribe, rate, and review our podcasts and tune in every Travel Tuesday for new episodes.

6 (1h 29m 42s):
Make sure to keep your bags packed and don’t forget your passport because next week we’re just taking a short flight over to Dubai,

4 (1h 29m 49s):
Dubai.

5 (1h 29m 50s):
Woo

4 (1h 29m 51s):
Bye everybody.

8 (1h 29m 52s):
Bye. Bye

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