Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Decadence and sightseeing in Lebanon with friends

A couple of days after Christmas our best friends from Cairo arrived by plane for a two week visit. It was a dear reunion. The children – all the same ages – ran screaming towards each other and piled up in a big hug/bodies rub-together kind of chaos that lasted a good solid five minutes. It was loud and cute, both at the same time. It was great to see how happy they were to be together again. The kids then proceeded to pretty much spend the next fortnight in the same excited state, and I’m still wondering how they all got by on so little sleep for so long.

The adults were happy to see each other too, and we spent most of the holiday doing what we do best together; travel and visit sites, and eat & drink to our hearts’ delight. [I asked Courtney here if he could think of a verb form of ‘decadence’ and he suggested ‘decay,’ but however correct it would be to say that we ‘decayed,’ it doesn’t quite capture the spirit of our festive consumption.] We had fun indulging in everything from oysters with champagne, to caviar, duck, shrimp, bouillabaisse, salmon, wine and various spirits, sushi, octopus, and other delicacies.

On the day we went to visit Byblos we had a wonderful meal at a restaurant by the port; fresh fish that was cooked in an amazing way. The beautiful surrounding did their share to make the experience a truly memorable event. We hired a tourguide for our visit to the castle, well worth its money, and the whole day it didn’t rain but the sky looked dramatic with huge dark and fluffy clouds promising of a storm (a storm that came as we drove back to Beirut), which made the view over the Mediterranean sea fantastic.

Our visit to the Jeita Grottos was amazing as well, but what I think everyone enjoyed the most was our hike at the Cedar reserve up in the Al Shouf mountains. The kids just rolled around in the snow, excited to finally play in snow after all these years in the Egyptian desert, until they were so wet and cold they could do nothing but cry. Abraham kept excitedly exclaiming “No-man! No-man!” [For some reason he thought the word for snow was snowman.] but had trouble getting around in the foot deep snow. The adults enjoyed watching the kids have fun, as well as the beautiful view. Until that day I had not realized how diverse and extensive the country of Lebanon is. It’s not just Lebnah, horrible traffic, and Chestnut-selling men in the street corners; it’s ski-resorts and mountains, and hiking trails through forests.

After this decadent yet rejuvenating break we are now all back to work and school again. Bring on 2011!

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