Featured, Lebanon, Podcasts

Travel to Lebanon

9 Comments 11 April 2011

Mediteranean Lebanon

A stunninf view from Our Lady of Lebanon in Jounieh

With one month in Lebanon, you can cover a lot of ground.  However I can’t say that I really traveled the country thoroughly and I certainly didn’t get to all of the traditional tourist sites.  Instead I was too busy sinking into the culture of Lebanon.  Thanks to my GeoVisions cultural exchange program who placed me with my local host family, I was able to dig deep into the web of Lebanese history, culture, and make genuine friends.

The People:

kids drawings

My works of art from Mickey

It was because of my host family that I was able to meet the wonderfully generous people I did.  People who took me everywhere allowing me to enter into their lives with ease an open arms.  So what if I didn’t go to Jeita Grotto, Baalbek Ruins, or the famous Cedars.  I spent my time with people, not places.

Instead I sat at family dinner tables, shared wine and shwarma with my family, shared stories, learned about our varied lives, and became attached.  I became attached to the country as well as the people who were in my life there.  A month felt like 6 months based on the relationships I was able to build.

My host family, the Costa’s, were so generous I felt guilty at times.  Mickey, the youngest child would shower me with attention and beautiful works of art I would hand above my little bed.  He always made sure that I wasn’t far from a blanket to stay warm.  I felt as if I adopted Maria (14 yrs old) as my own niece wishing I could take her with me to see the world.  And Mira, my host mom was like no other person I had ever met in all of my travels; generous, emotional, loving, and a little bit of crazy…which is why I loved her.  After all, we all have a little crazy in us.  My family introduced me to all of their friends and extended family and proceeded to ‘assign’ these various people to take care of me and show me Lebanon.  To Walid, Tony, Andre, and Mark – Thanks – I couldn’t have asked for better tour leaders!

My friend and GeoVisions manager, Yola, was also a constant in my month in Lebanon.  She took time out of her weekends to drive me to various sites including Our Lady of Lebanon to seem some of the most spectacular views Lebanon had to offer.  She also ensured that I gained plenty of weight by never letting me go hungry. The Lebanese Food is worth the trip alone!

Mickey and Maria

Mira and I at my birthday party she threw me

Visiting with friends, Andre and her mother-in-law

Yola in the GeoVisions office

Places to See:

However if you are going to Lebanon the more traditional way to see sites rather than cultural immersion then I can recommend some of the places I ventured out to as a tourist:

Tripoli  – see the souks and the corniche and make sure you sample the sweets.
Saida – Don’t miss these refurbished souks
Jounieh – where you catch the gondola to Our Lady of Lebanon
Beirut  – Make sure you do the city walking tour – Walk Beirut.  Wander the other neighborhoods on your own, and see Pigeon Rock along the corniche.
Anjar – Step back in town to the ancient Umayyad ruins in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley
Zahle  – a town in the Bekaa Valley with it’s own Virgin Mary monument and stunning views of the valley.
Batroun – a seaside town with an authentic souk and delicious lemonade

our lady of lebanon

There she is...Our Lady of Lebanon

Things I didn’t get to do, but I wanted to:

It’s always good when you leave a few things to come back for – here are a couple of my picks for my next trip to Lebanon.

  • The Shatila refugee camp is a long-term refugee camp for Palestinian refugees, set up by UNRWA in 1949. The camp is located within the Lebanese capital Beirut. As of December 2003, it housed 12,235 registered refugees. It is most widely known as the site of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in September 1982, but also played a significant role in the 1982 Lebanon war and the 1985 to 1987 war of the camps.  You can actually stay in the camp at the CYC Guesthouse which  is located inside the refugee camp, and is run by Children and Youth Center (CYC). The Guesthouse offers accommodation to visitors and volunteers, all year-round, providing the opportunity to learn about life in Shatila camp, firsthand. Short stays are charged at $10 per night.
  • Hike the Lebanon Mountain Trail – The (LMT) is the first long-distance hiking trail in Lebanon. It extends from Al- Qbaiyat in the north of Lebanon to Marjaayoun in the south, a 275 miles path that transects more than 75 towns and villages at altitude ranging from about 1,800-6,000 feet above sea level.  The LMT showcases the natural beauty and cultural wealth of Lebanon’s mountains and demonstrates the determination of the people of Lebanon to conserve this unique heritage.  The trail brings communities closer together and expands economic opportunities in rural areas through environmentally- and socially-responsible tourism.

Listen to More Information:

If you are heading to Lebanon, then take a moment to listen to my interview on the Amateur Traveler Podcast about what to expect with your travels in Lebanon.

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Some Inspiration:

I took hundreds of photos in Lebanon.  Here are some of my favorites.

My ‘Best of Lebanon’ Photography

Lebanon isn’t for everyone…but it was definitely a place for me.  Full of life, love, and heartache.

Your Comments

9 Comments so far

  1. Sherry –
    This trip looks so amazing. I love this post for the premise of being about people. YES! After awhile, during my RTW trip, i made peace with the fact that i didn’t have to sightsee…that wasn’t what it was about. Interactions with locals and friends was IT!
    I can’t wait to hear more.
    Lisa

  2. Sherry, I am loving your posts and your photography. Your shots of Lebanon are simply beautiful and this destination is very high on our *to see* list.

    As well, thank you for introducing us to GeoVisions. It seems like a great way to immerse yourself into the culture which is what travel is all about to us. We will be exploring this further for sure. Cheers!

    • Sherry says:

      Pete – thanks so much for your kind words…and thanks for stopping in to check out my site! Lebanon and the whole middle east is so culturally fascinating – I hope you make it there! Overall I was really satisfied with GeoVisions. I also did more writing about them on my other website – Briefcase to Backpack – we called it the Volunteer Chronicles – http://b2b.meetplango.com/category/volunteer-chronicles/
      If you have any questions about them – don’t hesitate to ask me!

  3. Awesome photos! Definitely inspired me to take a trip to Lebanon =)

    Overall, would you say you were satisfied the GeoVisions program there? I imagine you were teaching English a lot, but did you have any other responsibilities?

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    • Sherry says:

      I highly recommend Lebanon AND Jordan…some great destinations and people. Not to mention such an interesting culture. I really did love the GeoVisions program. Quite frankly I did zero formal teaching…I just did conversation with them – and that was simply natural day to day stuff. However – each family is different – some are looking for something more structured. it just so happened that neither of my families were looking for formal teaching. The program was well run and for me it was the perfect answer to cultural travel. It had ups and downs like everything – but overall it was one of my favorite ways to travel.

  4. Amine says:

    Hi Sherry,
    My heart jumped when I saw your beautiful photos of my home country Lebanon and specially my beautiful city Zahle…
    We have got an association for Australian – Zahle here in Victoria for migrants arriving since 1880 from Zahle to Victoria, Australia;
    Wondering if you have more photos of our beautiful Zahle to send me so I can share with the association as we are launching web site soon; Thanks a lot and have a great day

  5. Its was a nice trip description, i really enjoy to read also inspire from some pictures, its is nice coloring of picture, layout and writes. Thank you for sharing your experience.


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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
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Ireland -> Belgium

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