14/09/2010 - 15/09/2010
After our usual street falafel for breakfast (a treat i dont think i'll ever get bored of) we took the short cab hop to the Ksara Vineyard in the Bekka Valley. My uncle, who is a bit of a wine fan, had tipped us to the wine in lebanon and so i'd been looking out for it in the guidebook. And since we've been in Syria and Lebanon we've been served the local lebanese house wine which has been, without exception, yummy.
We had a tinker with the old fashioned machinery, watched the dvd of the more modern techniques, took a tour of the old roman cellars (which according to the story were discovered after the Jesuit monks who owned the original vineyard chased after a fox who'd been stealing the chickens - who disappeared down this mysterious hole and lo... instant kilometre long, perfectly conditioned wine cellar), had a few tastings and bought a couple of bottles to take with us to Baalbek to drink in the roman ruins there, should we have the chance.
Fortune was smiling on us and we made it to Baalbek in super fast time, found a dirt cheap hostel with a view of the ruins from our dorm's balcony no less and just chilled out with a beer feeling lucky.
Baalbek is one of the best preserved roman temple sites you'll find (and the small town of the same name is also the administrative centre of Hezbollah which means there is the strange only-in-modern-times situation which mean in front of the ruins there are chancers selling hezbollah tshirts to tourists on the streets...most strange). That evening the guide lead us through grand courtyards and temples dedicated to Jupiter, showed us where the human/animal sacrifices were made, let us soak up the enormity of the still standing columns and staircases, and then left us in the shadow of the temple dedicated to Baccus the god of Funtimes to spend the rest of our time to explore until sunset.
Which we did like children in an crumbling, limestone adventure playground for there are no red cord ropes of denial here! So we were still scrabbling around with the place pretty much to ourselves when we noticed the sun setting and we thought we'd better get our cheeky glass of wine in hiding behind some huge fallen column piece. And here we stayed until the sun went down and he lights started coming up wondering if we had been locked in until we saw other tourists and attendants paying no mind so we stayed sat there on the steps (feeling bold enough to drink our glasses in plain view) and watched the sun go down, the soft ruin lights come up and watched the few other tourists, the bats and even an owl play among the columns. It was so perfect I even made dave propose but had to turn him down on account of him forgetting my middle name :p The guard eventualy decided we should probably leave but I dont think they minded too much. I think they love that place and are happy to let people stay there who love it too.
When we got back to our hotel we were just getting stuff together to finish off our bottle on the balcony when there was a knock on our door and two girls stood there looking for the manager: Amy and Jaun from Beirut. looking a little travel weary but cheerful as ever. So the four of us swapped overlapping travel stories on the balcony and polished off the second bottle. Making a parting bedtime pact to continue on the road together for a few days rather than trailing half a day behind as we seemed to have been doing road trip!