I was very interested in visiting Lebanon, especially because many American travelers have blacklisted this country ever since they’ve been at war with Israel. Most people asked me, “Why Lebanon?” and I was like, “Why not Lebanon?”
Everyone in the Middle East that I talked to said they have some of the best food. The people there are friendly as far as I could tell, and I went from border to border. Like most Mediterranean countries, there are some wonderful places to visit, including an abundance of ancient cities such as Tyre and Tripoli and ancient sites such as Ba’albek and the old town of Byblos.
The Jeita Grotto cave system was by far the best international cave I have seen; it was extremely beautiful. Sorry no pictures from inside, but I could write an entire blog just on how wonderful this cave was. It has all-white rooms and stalactites on the upper cave with natural windows to the blue pools in the lower cave. On the lower-cave system you get to take a boat ride on a subterranean lake and look through those same openings in the cave ceiling. On the outside there are gardens along a cliff with a river running in the gorge. Bucket rides are available with restaurants and gift shops. It’s an experience all to itself. Look, this is the best cave I have ever seen as far as overall presentation. I was not expecting it, but no wonder they take your phones and all devices before you enter, and there are tons of park officers inside the cave.
Baalbek Phoenician ruins rival those in Italy and Greece as far as preserved historical buildings and cities. Beirut is a lively city with a nightlife to match the freer nature of some Middle East countries. The food here is a blessing to this earth. You know cities have great food if the vendors on the street all have 4- and 5-star ratings on foodie sites. Good food and drinks are everywhere, and they’re always a part of Beirut that’s up and active.
Driving in Lebanon is kind of hectic. Street lanes and lines were practically non-existent in major cities, but outside the city, streets are more familiar. A ride on the mountains just outside of town offers a wonderful opportunity to experience the quiet life of herders and farmers. You never know what wonderful things you will come across. I was able to catch an off-road competition and some amazing views. You can catch some bucket cart rides up the mountainside to religious sites and shops just outside Beirut that serve up the best views of the ocean and the hanging adventures many people come to Lebanon to experiences. I was never afraid, even in the Palestine state. I visited this country with an open mind and received open arms in return.
Jonathan Dryer: The Unofficial Traveler.