Monday, February 13, 2012

Mini-vacation day two: Tyre

We set out early on Thursday morning, armed with home-made sandwiches, drinks and snacks, as well as two guidebooks, heading south, destination: Tyre. All was going well – very well in fact, with close to no traffic and a beautiful coastal drive in wonderful weather – until the signs that said “Tyre, 26 km” suddenly were covered with warnings, and information in Arabic that we couldn’t make out. Unsure what to do, we figured we’d keep driving until we came upon something. Very soon we did: large, white tanks with "UN" written on them, barricades and a check-point with very professional looking soldiers with big guns, who had us turn back around. We drove to the previous exit and got off the highway. After a quick check on the map, we decided to go inland and around to circumvent the area that seemed to be blocked off. A few wrong turns, several UN check-points, and a wonderful picnic in the beautiful mountains later, we arrived in Tyre. We parked by the port, and walked through the souk (check out the electrical wiring!), spent some time on the beach (the Mediterranean always takes my breath away, no matter the season!), and then visited the archeological sites. There were a few other tourists there, but no more than we could count on our one hand. The sky was blue, the sea breathtaking, and the boys enjoyed the Roman remains, the Hippodrome in particular, which was very well preserved.

Before leaving Tyre we had dinner at the highly recommended – by both Globetrotter and the Lonely Planet – restaurant Le Petit Phoenicien. Why not round off a great day with some fresh seafood and good Lebanese mezze, right? Well. One very old man ran the restaurant himself, and both had obviously seen their better days a long time ago. Only the fish was fresh. The rest of the food that the man served us was rotten. In fact, Courtney only smelled the tabbouleh and the hummus before deciding not to eat it, but I had to taste it. Boy do I regret that! Definitely rotten, with some other unidentifiable taste on the side. How in the world did this restaurant ever end up in such recognized travel guides?? Even the bread was stale. We picked a little at the fresh fish, and had the complimentary oranges, hoping we would not all be sitting with our heads in a toilet later that night. Courtney noticed that the man saved the food we had rejected, and put it back in the containers it came from. Euw. On our way home – which we found a better road for – we concluded that it was the worst meal in a restaurant we had ever paid for. And it was expensive!

For more pictures from Tyre, see them here.

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