Think you’ve done it all? Here are some ideas by Nidal Majdalani to inspire you to travel beyond your comfort zone this season.
1. JOG IN THE RAIN
With a new season comes a change in the weather. Enjoy the sensation of jogging along Beirut’s Corniche from Ain el Mreisseh to the Manara lighthouse under the gentle rain for a truly invigorating experience. The epic sea view will motivate you to push on through.
2. PARAGLIDE OVER THE BAY OF JOUNIEH
If you’re a bit of a thrill seeker, try your hand at paragliding. Club Thermiquev (03 933359, clubthermique.org )offers a number of paragliding services at different sites across Lebanon, one of the most popular being the route from Ghosta down towards the bay of Jounieh.
3. EXPLORE THE CANA GROTTO
Located in South Lebanon, Cana is famous for its history and for being an important place of pilgrimage. A number of natural caves bearing old inscriptions can be found in the village and it is said that Jesus’ first miracle took place in one of these caves. The warm spiritual atmosphere of Cana is one that can be embraced by visitors of all faiths.
4. ADMIRE BEIRUT’S STREET ART
It’s difficult to walk around the capital without stumbling across some funky street art that’s worth admiring. Gemmayze and Mar Mikhael are particularly artsy so keep your camera handy and wander around the narrow lanes and up the numerous staircases.
5. WATCH SHIP BUILDERS AT WORK
The tradition of shipbuilding is one that dates back to ancient times in Lebanon. Tripoli became a center for the trade during the Umayyad period (circa 650 A.D.) and remains one of the most important shipbuilding locations. Tyre is another place where visitors can witness firsthand the skill of these remarkable craftsmen.
6. SKI LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW
The winter season provides a great opportunity to hit the slopes and there are no fewer than six ski resorts in Lebanon, including Mzaar Kfardebian, Zaarour, Cedars and Laklouk. Even if you’re a novice, you can still find the perfect piste to have some fun. Contact Ski Lebanon (70 103222, skileb.com) for help in organizing a trip and arranging lessons.
7. WANDER THROUGH THE CEDAR FORESTS
Symbolic to all Lebanese, the magnificent cedar tree tells an incredible story of Lebanon. The oldest documented forests in the world, Lebanon’s cedars were first mentioned in records dating back to 3000 B.C. There are several beautiful forests like the Al Shouf Nature Reserve (05 350250/150, shoufcedar.org), where one can touch these exceptional trees and feel at one with nature.
8. GO WINE TASTING
There are some 50 wineries dotted around the country producing more than 600,000 cases of wine per annum, which means plenty of wine tasting! While a number of red wine varieties are produced here, such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, Lebanon is home to the indigenous white grapes: Obaideh and Merwah. You can visit a selection of boutique wineries in Batroun or head to the Bekaa where you’ll find the greatest number of wineries, the largest being Chateau Ksara (08 813495, chateauksara.com).
9. HIKE SOMEWHERE MAGNIFICENT
Lebanon is blessed with a unique topography, making it a wonderful hiking destination. There are countless trails of varying levels of difficulty throughout the country which can be enjoyed year round. One of the most breathtaking hikes is in the holy valley of Qannoubine.
10. GET ON A BIKE
Biking has become an increasingly popular means of exploring Lebanon’s towns and villages. A great place to visit by bike is Deir Taanayel in the Bekaa, with its picturesque scenery and unique wildlife. Refer to page 59 for more on the area.