Flat Ruthie Travels to Lebanon

Glenda from Passion Fruit Garden blog writes about an adventure with Flat Ruthie

Last spring (that is, southern hemisphere “spring”), I offered to host Flat Ruthie.  I promised her great things: kangaroos, koalas, a visit to Perth, Fremantle, Kings Park, and lots, lots more but, alas, all Flat Ruthie got to see was Bridgetown.

So, when Maus and I set off on our adventures, to Lebanon, Dubai and Portugal I asked our visitor whether she would like to come along in my suitcase.  She sure would!!  At last, I was able to show Flat Ruthie a good time.  This post is of Flat Ruthie’s travels to Lebanon.  Travel shots of Dubai and Portugal will follow.  Flat Ruthie may even get to see a little of Western Australia.

BTW, the shot above is Flat Ruthie amongst Kangaroo Paws last spring, just to prove that she did make it to Western Australia.

Here is Flat Ruthie at Byblos fishing harbour.  It was a photo of this harbour that made me want to go to Lebanon.  Many years ago, we used to go to a little Lebanese restaurant in East Victoria Park.  The owners had a poster of the Byblos harbour on their wall.  Of course, we got talking and I asked them where the photo was taken because it reminded me of Greece.  I thought it would be wonderful to see the Mediterranean from a whole new perspective and experience the life represented in the poster.   The word bible is derived from Byblos.  Byblos is the oldest continually inhabited city in the world.  It is the birthplace of the Phoenician alphabet and lots of other great things.

Alas, the harbour was tiny and a big disappointment (the poster must have been Photoshopped) but Byblos was lovely.  It is a favourite destination for Beirutis on the weekend.  If you look closely along the horizon, you can see Beirut.

Here is another shot of the harbour, for good measure.

Here is Flat Ruthie (on the left) at the Roman ruins at Baalbeck.  They were not a disappointment!  The temples are massive, well preserved and arguably outshine anything in Italy.  Normally, the site would be crawling with tourists but Baalbeck is Hezobollah territory and because of this, its proximity to Syria and the fragility of Lebanon at the moment, we were the only tourists there (as we were at every other site we visited).

The temple in the photo is the temple of Bacchus which, as you can see, is still extremely well preserved.

The site includes a Temple of Jupiter which was built on massive foundations over 90 metres long and incorporating some of the largest building blocks ever used.

I have to admit I am not sure what Flat Ruthie (again on the left) is looking at here.  It was at this stage that we heard machine gun fire (not too far away) and were a wee bit keen to move on.  It was such a pity.  The site was fantastic but we only were able to stay about one hour.  In the circumstances, we were extremely lucky to find someone willing to take us there but the driver would only wait that hour

This is a photo of our site guide, Ferme, and Flat Ruthie at the Temple of Bacchus.  The photo shows ceiling detail with the bust of a Nymph.

Here is Flat Ruthie (and Maus) at Anjar (another town in the Bekaa Valley). This time, the ruins are of an entire Islamic city dating back to the Omayyad period.  The city was built by Caliph Walid 1 (705-715).  It had a very brief life because it ended with the extinction of the Omayyad dynasty in 749.  Anjar was completed with residential quarters, markets, baths, religious buildings and palaces.  Behind Maus is a colonnade along which residents would walk.  Behind the colonnade were hundreds of shops.  Maus is standing in the street which is yet to be excavated.  In the middle of the street is a drainage hole, part of the original drainage for the city.

Here is a photo Flat Ruthie checking out the intersection of the two main roads.  In the intersection was a monumental tetrapylon.  It consisted of four large bases, each bearing a group of 4 columns.  Most of the columns and capitals used in the construction of Anjar were recycled from 2nd and 3rd century Roman buildings.  By recycling building material, they were able to erect the city much more quickly than starting from scratch.

Over the hill, 3.5 kilometres away, is Syria.

Below is Flat Ruthie (and Maus) at Tyre (Sour). They are standing on a Roman road which is 1.6 kilometres long.  You can even see chariot wheel indentations in the pavements.  The archway dates from the time of Emperor Hadrian (2nd Century AD).

At the site is the world’s largest and best preserved Roman hippodrome.  It was 480 metres long and had capacity for over 30,000 spectators.  The only other moving object at the site that day was a big black snake.

In this photo, you can see some of the hippodrome’s stadium in the background.  Above the seating were rows of shops.

If you look closely at the centre of this photo, you can see Maus and Flat Ruthie in the stadium waiting for the next chariot race.

Here is Flat Ruthie, at Sidon (Saida), in front of the Crusader Castle which stands on a small island about 80 metres off the coast.  It was built on top of the ruins of an ancient temple.

This photo shows Flat Ruithie in front of Beirut’s famous Pigeon Rocks.  The Rocks were extremely disappointing because the surrounding waters were littered with debris (mainly plastic water bottles). Yuk!!

One last shot of Flat Ruthie in Beirut.  The photo illustrates modern rebuilt Beirut and a reminder of the civil war.  In the background is the Holiday Inn.  It opened in 1975, just weeks before the civil war commenced and was a prime sniper position, resulting in its bullet-ridden appearance.  The building remains derelict, a painful reminder of the damage done during that protracted civil war.

Here is a close up.

Stay tuned for me more of Flat Ruthie’s travels.

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