Tuesday, April 24, 2012

lebanese greetings


french, arabic and english are all spoken in this cultural crossroads...
upon entering the country i was warmly greeted by the customs agent and told that there was no charge for a visa, certainly the gentlest entry i have had into any country.

we spent the first 2 nights in a neighborhood called Furn El Hayek, kind hospitality from our friend Michael's parents.
our first evening they treated us to a traditional Lebanese dinner, small plates, called mezze.  the cuisine was certainly one of the major reasons i wanted to come to this region....

classic Mediterranean dishes like hummus (this country has by far the best hummus... EVER. unbelievably creamy and perfect.... i have now tasted heaven and think i may find it difficult to return to the land of chunky hummus....), grape leaves, baba ghanouj (eggplant), tabbouleh (parsley with bulgar, mint and tomato), fattoush (peasant salad),  halloumi (semi hard brined cheese made of goat and cow milk, can be grilled), charwarma (meats), fuul (beans and lentils mashed with olive oil, lemon and cumin) kibbeh (national dish), manaeesh (mini pizza, often with za'atar, a spice blend that varies from family to family), labneh (the best breakfast- thin pita with strained yogurt, olive oil, dried mint and olives rolled up) and many other culinary delights... fresh fruits and vegetables are always served along with nuts-green almonds are in season now (dip them in salt and eat the whole thing), the national drink is Arak (tastes like anise) and the national "local beer" almaza is TOPS!
this is by far the best culinary trip abroad i have ever had!

we spent our first day walking around the city, getting lost and finding treasures.  yesterday we went on a tour to Baalbek, Anjar and a winery.  we checked into the hotel Le Gray and i am fairly certain that i will never stay anywhere this swanky ever again.

tonight our friend Michael is taking us to hear experimental electronic music performed by a fellow from Egypt. i am going on another tour tomorrow while Hank works.  I will be going to hear him speak at the American University here on wednesday.  i will pop some more adventures on soon.

hope this finds you all well enjoying a splendid day, take care!

national beer.... great! and the tap water is drinkable as well, water is abundant due to the mountains. 

view of the water from our room

churches and mosques, side by side

look to the right of the mosque, you'll see construction occurring on a tower... this is a bell tower for a christian church and is under construction so that when it is finished it will be taller than the spires of the mosque....

cool textures

almaza on tap!

Al-Amin mosque downtown

ruins of Anjar main road, located just 5 minutes from the Syrian border

formerly known as Gerrha, this site was built in the 8th century by a Caliph as a trading post which housed 600 vendors and summer palace

the Caliph's palace

ornate detail, the city was only occupied for 39 years before it was destroyed by another Caliph

pillars and other items and ideas were imported to complete the city

notice the sewer drains, these are original, Roman builders were consulted for the city's development

terra cotta bases in the bath house, the furnace was built below the bath house

the town of Anjar is completely inhabited by Armenians today, here's a classic import from the old country

Bedouin and Gypsy camps in the Beqaa valley

the Beqaa valley is located between the Lebanon and Anti- Lebanon mountain ranges and supplies much of the fresh fruits and vegetable for the region, the Lebanon mountains in the background contain the tallest peaks in the middle east

part of the quarry that Baalbek was constructed from (notice ancient Baalbek in the background)

overview of Ballbek by the German archaeologists, the first to excavate  the site
the highest and largest temple is the temple to Jupiter, (the largest ever constructed) the smaller temple to left is for Bacchus, and the smallest to the left of the text box is to Venus

after visiting Roman ruins in Greece and Italy these are by far the largest, best preserved and most accessible!

temple to Venus, with the modern town of Baalbek in the background

Roman inscriptions

nature taking over

temple to Bacchus
Hank and me under on of the fallen reliefs from the Jupiter temple

the 6 columns in the background are all that remain from the temple to Jupiter, there were 9 standing until the detrimental earthquake in the 1700's


decorative water spout

entry to Bacchus temple, notice on the left of the picture, the border is grape vines and opium  poppies 

massive fallen column

detail inside the Bacchus temple

from Bacchus to Jupiter

detail of the carving of the ceiling of the exterior of the Bacchus temple

entering into the stables/storage area, all built under the temple compound, now houses the museum

in the museum, recovered column, Sabina was Marcus Aurelius' daughter

looking for one of these to take to burning man this year!

Bardouni river, flowing through the middle of the restaurant Bardouni.... yummm!

private cellar in the Ksara winery

old bottle sterilizing machine at Ksara winery

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Grace - Thanks for posting. It all looks so beautiful. Your descriptions of the food made my mouth water! I'm glad you are enjoying your time there. I look forward to more updates. Have fun!