MarHaba o Shukran for stopping by and checking out the blog!
There are no words that I could say that would describe the immense joy I had during my stay, abroad, in the Middle East and this time around, I visited Istanbul, Turkey while seeing various cities throughout Lebanon!
Sit back, grab your favorite beverage, and join me as I take you through my journey of the Middle East.
My journey begin with a 9p flight from Miami to Istanbul, Turkey. Being that this was my first trip, abroad, post covid, being excited was an understatement. I had to prepare my body for a short 12-hour flight. Personally, I don't mind it. Mainly due to me finishing work on the plane and catching up on various project.
Once I arrived the airport, it was fairly easy navigating through the International airport. It was great seeing many different people and hearing the various accents as I traveled throughout the terminal. Albeit at 2-hour layover, and fearing that I would miss my connecting flight to Beirut, I knew that I couldn't explore too much.
Once I arrived in Lebanon, I was taken aback due to 1). the excitement of seeing my friends, and 2). to seeing the current state of affairs of the day-to-day life. Now for those of you who know me, know that I loath people who can not drive well. I've driven in many places throughout my life, e.g., Georgia, Virginia, Washington, Los Angeles, China, and most recently Florida. However, the driving in Lebanon is on a totally different vibe that took me about 4 days to be comfortable with. Mind you, after the 3 heart-attacks I had sitting in the passages seat, I was fine. Check this out...
Now, you're probably thinking to yourself..."that's not too bad." But ask yourself, "where are the driving lanes?" Most roads do not have driving lanes and for those that do, are faded or barely noticeable. That being said, people will past, cut in, without notice...similar to Florida. For someone not accustomed to the groove, and there is a groove, you can only imagine how I was feeling.
The first stop was the City of Beirut. To see the progress of the downtown area, today, compared to what it looked like 3 years ago is a true testament of the people in Lebanon. One can only imagine the horror that everyone felt and may perhaps still feel today. The area was gorgeously beautiful.
Literally, Lebanon is coast, mountain, and everything in between. The next stop of my excursion was visiting the mountain side of a region called the Chouf district.
The Chouf is a historic region of Lebanon, as well as an administrative district in the governorate of Mount Lebanon and a very, VERY, beautiful area. I was able to travel to a peaceful retreat and visit a Palace that was converted into an exclusive hotel/retreat. Man, what a view!!!!
The next stop was visiting the famous Cedar Forrest. Not only was it peacefully serene, the air quality was the freshest I've experienced since Lake Louise in Banff, Canada. In addition, I had a wonderful late lunch/dinner at a place called Deir al Oumara and the view was OUT OF SIGHT!
After leaving the mountains, I finally got a chance to visit the coastal side of Lebanon, their port, the University, a mineral cave (were photos couldn't be taken) and the local night life. I forget the name of the port and mineral cave, but it was very beautiful and looked like a scene out of a French movie. For those who know me, I'm all about coffee and a chill vibe and before we went to the music festival, we took a break at this hip coffee shop around the University and it DID NOT disappoint!
As I approached the end of my vacation, I got the rare opportunity to attend a Lebanese wedding. Unfortunately, I can't upload the videos of the festivities, but let's say that it didn't disappoint.
Not only was it an exciting time, I got a chance to experience a more intimate side of Lebanon through tradition, spirituality, and family. I got a chance to hear traditional Lebanese music, hang out with the musicians, learned the Depkin (traditional dance), and just be in my feelings.
I am truly thankful for the opportunity to be where my feet were and grateful to have been surrounded my the vibe tribe!
Looking forward to the next!!!!