Tuesday, June 5, 2012

the next chapter....


grace on ice, aka iceicegracie is coming to an end...

partly because i have exhausted my free 1 gig of photo storage
and partly because i am no longer "on ice"

below you'll find the link to the next blog zoom zoom gracie


there will be more Lebanese posts on this new blog and a continuation of these adventures...

i hope this finds you all well and enjoying the day!
take care,
karen grace

Monday, May 21, 2012

photos from Dier el Qamar

Dier el Qamar translates to Monastery of the Moon, it is located 5 km outside of Beiteddine.  The structures in the town are some of the last examples of classic Lebanese construction, stone with red tile roofs.
cobblestone alley cat, very vocal

in the middle of all the sidewalks there is a ravine for water drainage



classic hillside view

Fakhreddine mosque

public water fountain in the middle of the main square

photos from Beiteddin palace

the name is pronounced bate~ah~deen

on the second story just in front of the courtyard entrance to the palace

courtyard view

inside view, like a genie bottle!

one of many ornate ceilings 

mosaic water fountain near entrance to a worship hall

more ceilings



receiving hall


water fountain for purification before entering the mosque

courtyard view

stables where many Byzantine mosaics were stored during the war, it is touted as the most comprehensive and best preserved collection of Byzantine mosaics

beautiful stonework

formal garden courtyard

valley view from garden courtyard

Thursday, April 26, 2012

more lebanese musings

greetings from Beirut!

i am enjoying the breeze flowing through the windows, carrying in the call to worship for the 3 nearby mosques, the sounds of horns and jack hammers just below...
this is Beirut.
the old, the new, progress and tradition, high rise construction next to bombed out buildings, muslim and christian, if there's one word for this land, it is DYNAMIC.
the traffic is wild, there are no lanes. no public transit, just crazed cabs, very aggressive - always honking at us-we definitely stick out...
i was able to go on a tour of Beirut, which included a trip to the national museum downtown, Beiteddin which is a palace built by the Lebanese prince in the 1700's and Deir El Kamar which was once the capitol of the country and is now a summer resort community in the mountains.  i made a friend on the tour, as Hank was working all day.  She works for the UN in Haiti.... you never know who you'll meet while traveling!
we made a trip to the grocery store last night, most of the produce is from Lebanon, there was a nut bar, spice bar, pickle bar, and so many other treats to enjoy!
Hank's talk at American University went well, we then visited with the local organizations that they are collaborating with...
we will be checking out of the hotel saturday morning to go touring with our friend Michael and then returning for sunday and monday nights.  i will spend my remaining 2 nights with Michael and fly out on thursday and spend the night in Frankfurt with friends.
i will let the photos tell the rest.
more soon.
i hope this finds you all enjoying a wonderful day.
take care,

these are phots from Beirut, the palace photos to follow...

ruins of the roman baths in the middle of town

roman baths with ottoman army barracks in background

mosque with the maronite church nestled next to it

greek orthodox church just across from the mosque

planned open air museum

new construction after the 15 year war (1975-1990)
downtown Beirut was mostly destroyed

Beirut National Museum
sarcophagus of King Ahiram, from Byblos
10th century BC
the museum was destroyed during the war, there were great steps taken to protect the artifacts inside,
 large concrete walls were built around each item

detail of the sarcophagus
the script is phoenician, a curse placed there from the king's son to anyone who opened it
below are lotus flowers- open is life and closed is death 

Roman sarcophagus 
street corner

new construction next to bombed out building

bombed building, the old architecture of Beirut was quite ornate

deserted synagogue

there are only 200 Jewish residents remaining after the war

curious calico kitty on the campus of American University

bombed out highrise

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