We started day two as early as we could. I think we made it out around 830 AM and stopped at a patisserie for breakfast. Lebanese patisseries are fantastic, the French influence definitely has rubbed off. Ang bought two donuts, a small veggie pizza, and a croissant with almond (paste?) inside. The croissant was particularly delicious. Our first stop of the day was Byblos. We went to the harbor (modern built on ancient) and the archaeological park. On this day we took over 570 pictures and I think a good percentage were taken at Byblos. Not only is the area beautiful, the old city is built within the walls of the Crusader city, but the archaeological area is massive. Visible ruins in the area begin with the Chalcolithic Period and continue through modern times. There is a large Crusader castle built on an earlier Islamic fort, built on the Middle Bronze rampart and Early Bronze city wall. There is a Roman theater built next to the Phoenician necropolis and a beautiful 19th century CE house overlooking houses from the Chalcolithic period.
When we got back to the car it wouldn’t start. I realized that Jack had turned the lights on when playing in the front seat, but after the car was turned off and the keys taken out. Stupid French car. We found two very nice 20 somethings who were very helpful. They didn’t have jumper cables, but called around to friends until they found some. Middle Eastern hospitality at its best. We stopped on our way out of town and got some sandwiches. I got Ang and Jack a mixed grill wrap and I got a fried fish wrap, which was amazing. They put mint in everything in the Middle East and it did wonders to my wrap.
After stopping by Tell Fadous-Kfarabida, an Early Bronze site that I read about in Near Eastern Archaeology, we got to Batroun. It is a small vacation/tourist village with a really cool sea wall excavated out of the kurkar rock by the Phoenicians. Not much to say about this stop. We once again got to walk through the old souk part of town, super narrow streets and old buildings. In this town, houses had an affinity for staircases that emerged out of the side of buildings and led to nowhere, quite amusing.
Before we arrived in Tripoli we stopped at Moussaylha Castle, a fairy tale castle if there ever was one. Built in the 15th century CE to protect the main pass through this region, it was constructed on top of a rock outcropping. There was a Bedouin with his sheep nearby and a babbling brook, one just had to tune out the busy highway nearby to imagine you were back 600 year ago.
We then made our way to Tripoli. Despite getting somewhat turned around we made our way to the Old City. We wanted to see the Crusader Citadel, which dominates the area, and to try out a sweet shop that our guide book said was the best in Lebanon. Unfortunately the Citadel was closed (like the Moussaya Castle), but after many twists and turns through the unmarked narrow souk streets we found the sweet shop! It was quit fantastic, delightful kenafe with a special syrup to pour over top and amazing baklava. So, after all those twists and turns, we realized that we had no idea where our car was. We began retracing our steps when we ran into an eccentric Lebanese man dressed in a red tie and red pants with a green plaid vest. He asked where we were from in a quirky English accent (turns out his wife is Belgian) and informed us he worked for the tourist center in Tripoli and was delighted to see an American family in Tripoli. He also insisted on accompanying us through the back streets of Old Tripoli until we found our car. He knew every nook and cranny of those streets and told us all about them, and eventually lead us to our car. Hurray! He showed us the way to get back on the highway and then he was gone. Either disappearing into a back alley or vanishing into the ether.
We decided to try and make it up into the mountains and see the famous Cedars of Lebanon grove before it got dark. However we spent too much time trying to find our car and underestimated the time it would take to get up into the mountains, so we had to stop and turn around to return to Beirut, but not before seeing a beautiful sunset and some snow capped mountains.