Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Pilgrimage from Batrun to Juniyah 09/08/08

Waking with the alarm at 5am I'm surprised to find the beach completely deserted. Where are all the party goers??? I was told the party would continue until nine or ten in the morning so there is no reason for them not to be down here...

But I'm not complaining :) Rolling back over I go back to sleep and don't wake again till seven. Still there is only a single fisherman to be seen and the view is stunning. A perfect camping spot...

Setting off around the coast it is one hotel after another. Restaurants, swimming pools, health all looks very European. And the good news is it all looks very safe. :)

Finding a cute little cafe for breakfast the first thing that catches my attention is their choice of pet. There in a fish tank in front of me is a baby crocodile! The owner is extremely friendly and sits down next to me while I eat...

"What do you think of Lebanon?"

"It's great. The people couldn't be more friendly and the Mediterranean is stunning"

"Yes, we have a nice spot here. It is like a little oasis inside Lebanon that is not really Lebanon at all"

"Do you ever have any trouble here?"

"Never, north of Tripoli, south of Beirut and in the mountains there is trouble. The area in here is like a little sanctuary"

I don't know if this is entirely correct or not, but by all appearances I would have to agree with her. Sanctuary indeed...

Arriving in Byblos around lunch time I immediately start searching for spaghetti, only to find something just as good...Chinese! It's a bit expensive but I'm in need of a change and it's well worth it! Wonderful!!! And I even end up with enough to take for dinner :)

For some reason I was under the impression that the old city of Byblos is a couple of kilometers to the south. I almost leave town without checking out the castle I can see, thinking that the other ruins are likely to be far more impressive. Lucky I decide to stop because the old city is located right here...

Byblos is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world with the ancient city dating back to 8000BC! Many civilizations have left their mark here and it is well worth a look.

Heading off towards Juniyah I pass a couple of soldiers guarding an artillery graveyard. The young one calls me over looking extremely stressed out about my camera. He is another one of these young kids with a wild look in their eyes and someone I would prefer not to be holding a gun ;)

"What is that?!?"

"A video camera"

"Why are you here?"

"Just walking to Beirut"

"Where are you from? Give me your passport"


The anxiety instantly disappears from his face "Aaaah, Australia! Welcome! Do you have Facebook? I want to go to Australia one day. How can I get a visa?"

"Yes, I have Facebook. But as for a visa, it's pretty hard. I don't know how you get one"

We swap emails and he leaves me to continue on. I make another 7kms before trying to locate a hotel or restaurant with wireless. After a couple of attempts I find this great bar with swimming pool, an awesome view of the Mediterranean and internet. I sit and type, have a few beers then notice a couple of young guys playing backgammon. Waiting for them to finish I challenge one of them to a game and he completely demolishes me 5-1 :) But oh well, can't win them all...

A few kilometers down the road the sun starts to sink towards the horizon, finding a nice spot on the beach I sit, relax and enjoy the sunset while finish the rest of my chinese.

Stopping at another bakery for dessert the owners are great. I could happily spend the night chatting but after half an hour decide to make a move. And they don't even let me pay :)

Passing a Russian restaurant on the outskirts of Juniyah one of the workers is sitting on the steps and calls out as I go by...

"Come sit. Have a rest"

Sounds good to me "Sure"

Elie is a really cool guy. He's Syrian but normally lives in Dubai so his English is nearly perfect.

"Where are you staying tonight?"

"Don't know. I will camp somewhere on the other side of Juniyah"

"I have an apartment free here. If you want to stay you are more than welcome. I am renovating it right now so it's a bit of a mess but if you don't mind that you are welcome"

Champion!!! "That sounds great! Thanks" :)

The apartment is wonderful and after chatting for a short while I call it a night...

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