Caves to Cable Cars

November 4, 2011

Uncategorized

Caves to Cable Cars

The Jeita Gratto

Having both met Walid Jumblatt and visited Balbeck our intensive weekend was followed by a relaxed  tour in the north. After the remarkable sights and experiences of the Beqaa Valley our latest trip had a well welcomed vacation like feel. We made our first stop at the Jeita Gratto, an incredibly beautiful system of caverns that snakes its way 9km into the mountains. During the civil war the caves were used to stock munitions of every caliber but today they are restored as one of Lebanon’s largest tourist attractions and have made it to the finals in the global New 7 Wonders competition. The Jeita Gratto is divided into upper and lower halves. The upper caves feature one of the world’s most amazing collections of stalactites and stalagmites. As we walked along a suspended bridge through the massive underground chambers we felt somewhat like ants, dwarfed by  the stone columns that descended from the ceiling. Below our feet the chamber dropped a long way into a fresh water river that we later navigated by electric boat. Unfortunately, the Grotto has a strict “no cameras” policy that kept me from taking pictures.

This statue is known as the Keeper of Time, he sits outside the entrance to the Jeita.

The Winery 

We later headed to a well known winery in the north. Fine wines are one of those things that makes Lebanon, well, Lebanon.

In the middle of the tour we were taken via crate evaluator to the dungeon-like basement where the wine was stored. In order to properly stock and age the wine the product must be kept at a constant temperature. Their secret…. massive heaps of cobb webs that coat and insulate the bottles. Let it be known that these webs come from actual, eight legged spiders and not charged particles. The gangly webbing drooped heavily with dust so that I would occasionally have to duck my head to keep them out of my hair.

I’m fine with almost all insects, EXCEPT for spiders and I can’t say this visit did much for my fear.

Huge clay jars full of Lebanese Arak! Love the aroma.

Wine tasting time.

About mid day we made a stop in Byblos and had some free time to wander around.

Harissa

By sunset we were in cable cars suspended over the city and being pulled up the Beirut mountains.

We are on our way to Harissa, a gigantic 15 ton statue of the Virgin Marry that sits atop the mountain and over looks Jouineh.

A stone staircase spirals its way up the statue. Each turn reveals a new vantage point.

A retro church

This is a panoramic image from the top. Click to Enlarge.

Photos from the Mediterranean Sea.

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2 Comments on “Caves to Cable Cars”

  1. Scott Anderson Says:

    Good evening,

    My name is Scott Anderson. I am possibly traveling to Lebanon in a few months and have Soooooo many questions. Would you be willing to answer a few for me? I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you for your time.

    Respectfully,

    Wm. Scott Anderson

    Reply

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