Even though we'd already spent two nights here, today was really the first day we got to know Byblos. What a great town! It reminds me a lot of Buzios in Brazil. Lots of chic open-air bars, cafes and restaurants. There is a whole string of bars in an old alley that are especially cool, and when we walked home from dinner tonight, they were even lively on a Monday.
I was dragging a bit today with the stomach bug, but we went and toured the ruins here this morning. Byblos is actually the oldest port city in the world, and maybe even the oldest continually inhabited city (if you look it up, it's contested -- kind of like determining the world's biggest waterfall). It was a big base for the Phonecians, and the alphabet was invented here -- hence the town's name from the Greek word for book.
We saw yet another Crusader castle and a neat little ampitheater; one unique sight today was a Phonecian king's tomb underground. It was a bit overcast, so it was nice to have a break from the heat.
Shopped a bit in the old souk and got some souvenirs. Chamoun treated us to fajitas for lunch because I needed a bit of a break from Lebanese food. (Will say, however, I am nowhere near as weary of Lebanese food as I was of Chinese food last year!) We bid him farewell and thanked him for everything he did to make our trip outstanding.
Took a mid-day siesta and then met Elie and the gang at Edde Sands, a private beach club within walking distance of our hotel. Oh my. What a place! I don't know if I've ever seen anything quite like it. Five pools, a private beach with beach beds and lounge chairs, restaurant, drink service, etc. I was sorry we didn't get there earlier to take advantage of our entry fee, but I really had to rally to leave the hotel room.
Frank and I cleaned up and caught the sunset from a landmark called Pepe's Fishing Club on the harbor, then we walked next door for another fantastic meal with 20 of our closest Lebanese friends. We had three kinds of calamari, tiny fried fish, delicious white grilled fish, and a spread of desserts I can't even describe. Amazing! The weather was absolutely perfect to be outside.
We are headed back to Beirut tomorrow morning for one last night in the city and are looking forward to a home-cooked dinner with Nibal and Tony. Not looking forward to the long flight home but so grateful for every experience we've had.