On the main square there is a lovely café in the classic Middle Eastern style – old gentlemen drinking tea, smoking water-pipes and playing backgammon.
We stayed at the very pleasant hotel El Koura, centrally located, clean and comfortable and very affordable (50USD for a double room with bathroom and breakfast). It is a family run little place in an old house, and Pierre the manager is very kind and helpful. Having granny sitting in the sofa all day in the lobby just adds to the charm.
We arrived to Tripoli yesterday. This morning we continued up the mountains to Ehden, Bcharre and the Cedars. We found Ehden vastly overrated. Bcharre was better but not very special. The gorges in the area are dramatic though. The Cedars has a little tiny forest with Cedar trees, and some nice views of the mountains. That’s about it.
Unfortunately, the road over the mountains to Baalbeck is still closed due to snow, so we have to take the long detour South via Beirut. Therefore we decided to stop for the night in Byblos since we liked it so much. It is a very quaint place.
Last time we slept at the newly opened Canary de Byblos hotel. It is nice and comfortable but the location is dull, on the other side of the motorway.
This time we found another place, Hotel Alhiram just by the water and close to the harbour. They have a lovely terrace (where I am sitting now enjoying their free wifi) with waves crashing in on the beach just below.
When walking in to the harbour for dinner we passed through a gate in the old city walls. On the other side we heard faint singing. Soon we found an ancient church filled to the brims by singing people – it is Ash Wednesday. We stood inside for a while enjoying the atmosphere. It was beautiful and special to here the Arabic psalms echo under the high stone vaults.
Then we had a very romantic alfresco dinner at Pepe’s fishing club. Locanda and Bab al Mina might have better food but Pepe’s was good enough and nothing beats their terrace. Femke found us a table under a tree with splendid views of the harbour with its Mamlouk defence tower. We finished the evening with desserts and a game of carcassone :-)