Finally, finally, I made it up to Byblos. For a city so nearby it took surprisingly long to do it. And as part of another school-subsidized trip it was very satisfying.
The bus trip up was excruciatingly long. We met up at Charles Helou and only paid4000LL each way (I think), but what should’ve taken no more than an hour took nearly 2 hours thanks to Saturday morning traffic, but once we arrived it was an easy 10 minute walk to get to the ruins. Byblos, or Jbeil, is another Phoenician city in Lebanon and believed to be the oldest continually-inhabited city in the world. That’s quite a feat right there.
Anyway, the ruins were less than I expected. I suppose after going to Baalbek I’m just spoiled to seeing amazing Roman ruins, but they were still interesting and fun to climb around in. The position of the site right on the sea was really nice and the castle itself had amazing views from the top and a cool museum inside. Despite being denied discounted student entry at Baalbek because I wasn’t a Baalbek resident, we got in for the student price of 2000LL at Byblos, which was definitely a nice perk.
Afterwards, we wandered down through the super-touristy old souks on the hunt for some food. Alexis had tipped us off to an old fishing club (Chez Pepe’s Byblos Fishing Club) and restaurant frequented by the rich and famous back in Byblos’ heyday. It was really comfortable and relaxing, right on the water with some nice, themed décor.
At Pepe’s we ordered some delicious mezze and shrimp cocktail, along with a yummy new food I have never heard of before and forgot the name of, some goat cheese with thyme and tomatoes and other spices. Combined with some mint lemonade it was a perfect lunch and end of the day in Byblos, we were all so tired and just wanted to go home. Through the souks again on the way to the bus stop I picked up a couple cheap scarves I’ve been looking for the whole time I’ve been here and began an addiction to pashminas. It really is impossible to only buy one…
After getting home and thinking about it, I don’t think I got a real taste of Byblos. My excursion was pretty much restricted to the touristy sights in the city and we left soon after we saw the sights because we were all way too tired to continue any longer, especially after that meal. I’ll definitely have to make a trip back to the city at some point, especially hearing about their supposedly excellent sandy beach and chill rooftop clubs.
And I think it’s worth mentioning the abundance of snails and the mini TV the minibus driver had in place of a rearview mirror on the drive back to Beirut. Just sayin’.