Lebanon -Day 3

Disappointed to learn that Beyreuth does not host a Wagner festival. Apparently he never came here! Oh well, not that keen on his operas anyway. Just thought that while we were here………

To more serious matters. Last night we were to meet Mother Agnes, a nun from Damascus, but she could not get here. We hope to meet with her later in the week. Instead I walked up Hamra Road which is humming in the evening. Families, groups of girls, groups of boys, the elderly, all out for a stroll or for some shopping.mit felt like any cosmopolitan city, but safer. I was looking for an ATM to get some cash. It took me about 20 minutes and was a very pleasant stroll. The only thing was the continual plaintive enquiries from men cruising past in cars ‘Taxi?’ Do I look like a tourist? Apparently, yes, I do. On getting back and no sign of Mother Agnes we had a comparatively early night.

Up early today for an 8.30 start, heading south. In view of a holiday yet to come I’m not saying much about the morning, except that we drove up into the Chouf mountains with some spectacular views. It was a fascinating few hours. Do lease ask me about it on our return.

Lunch was taken in the mountains and an ice cold glass of mint lemonade slipped down a treat. From there we went to Beaufort Castle – a crusader castle built high above the Litani  valley. Away in the distance we could see, some 6 Kms away, the Israeli border and the wall they are starting to build there. The castle has had a chequered history having changed hands many times. It was finally held by the Israelis before being won back by the Lebanese in 2000. The Israelis had used it as a listening post for the region and when they left they set about destroying the castle. Only international protests stopped the castle’s complete destruction.Since 2011 it has undergone substantial restoration, although vandalism has undone some of the good work which is a shame. I suppose until tourists start to come there in sufficient numbers there won’t be money available to protect the site. It is spectacular and well worth seeing. The views are breath-taking, although they would be even better but for the pollution haze.

On our way home we stopped at an ice-cream parlour and sampled some delicious ices. I had almond and pistachio. Wonderful! Now a chance to relax before dinner and a talk from a young Syrian.

If there are two things I have learnt n these two days they are:

a) Not to be so trusting of the BBC and our media generally

b) That there is no such thing as truth, just probabilities of truth.

These may not be staggering revelations to many of you, nor indeed to me, but I have had to confront both of these head on over the last two days. It has been a steep learning curve and I’m certain it is not over yet. Tomorrow will be a tyring day – guess where we are going!

P.S. The young Syrian didn’t show up either, so we walked a few hundred metres to the Cafe Hamra and enjoyed a convivial evening of drinks and chats. I had a glass of arak which was very refreshing. Sitting outside in a large courtyard in the cool of the air conditioning while drinking and putting the world to rights is extremely pleasant. And so to bed……..


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