Pulpology: Mark & Sonia's Intercontinental Absurdities!


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19 June 2013
Wanderfood Wednesday: Bab El Mina in Byblos

Lebanese tabbouleh is the BEST
Lebanese tabbouleh is the BEST

After our Jordan adventures, we took a quick side trip to Beirut to visit our Habitat teammate Hanine. We were treated to an amazing whirlwind tour through an amazing city by an amazing friend, who reinforced the notion of Arab hospitality through force-feeding. After stuffing our faces at breakfast the first day, Hanine and her boyfriend Hadi drove us out to the town of Byblos for a late afternoon meal of seafood treats.

Byblos is quaint and more than a little touristy, and as such it evokes nearly all Matador's "words and phrases we never want to see in travel writing again."

It's "sun-dappled." Really, look at this:
sun-dappled


It's both a "gem” and a “jewel.”
gem!

jewel!


It's "breathtaking." Might even be "nestled" into the hillside.
breathtaking


And, as we were about to find out, it "boasts" phenomenal seafood.
boast!


Hanine and Hadi took us to Bab El Mina, a lovely restaurant in the heart of Byblos's fishing port. Since we're total omnivores, we let our friends order whatever struck their fancy. While they assured us it'd just be a few small plates to sample, in true Arab fashion the ensuing cavalcade of deliciousness was a wonder to behold.

and so it begins
and so it begins

shrimp and calamari
shrimp and calamari

baba ganoush
baba ganoooooooush

saucy shrimp
saucy shrimp

just a few nibblies
just a few nibblies

crispy salty goodness
crispy salty goodness

somethingorother fish
somethingorother fish

a spot of dessert
a spot of dessert


Hanine entertained us with some coffee ground fortune-telling, and Mark got in on the act.

apparently we're all destined for a long, happy life
apparently we're all destined for a long, happy life...

...or maybe a mudslide
...or maybe a mudslide


After all that pigging out (yet again) we needed to walk it off a bit, so we took a stroll through the historic quarter of Byblos. Lots of cool stuff to explore... medieval buildings, an adorable little souk, a funky Maronite Catholic church.

Crusader Fort
Crusader Fort (unfortunately not open so this was as close as we got)

love this cobbled courtyard
love this cobbled courtyard

creepy-cool stonework
creepy-cool stonework

Eglise Saint Jean-Marc
Eglise Saint Jean-Marc


Not a bad way to spend an afternoon/evening.

Hadi and Hanine


If you find yourself in Beirut with a hankering for fresh seafood, it's worth the drive out to Byblos.

Bab El Mina Restaurant
Byblos Port, Lebanon
+961.9.540475


No, I didn't use all 10 forbidden words in Matador's list, but if you're curious about what they are, the link's below. For more mouthwatering travel food photos, check out Wanderlust & Lipstick's WanderFood Wednesday.


RELATED LINKS:
* browse all Byblos pics

* Wanderfood Wednesday: epicurean despot
* all Jordan posts
* all Jordan pics
* Matador Network: 10 words and phrases we never want to see in travel writing again 

A love note to Team Pedro

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments


14 June 2013
Photo Friday: the Petra experience

so many camels, so little time
so many camels, so little time

As I've hinted at in past posts, there's a very good reason Petra is a World Heritage Site. UNESCO goes into great detail on Petra's "Outstanding Universal Value." Personally, I was just glad it was as amazing in person as the photos and movie footage it's featured in.

The pleasant walk into The Rose-Red City first provides a view of ancient silica quarries, partially-carved tombs (which we jokingly referring to as "art school"), and Djinn blocks. The latter, freestanding cube-shaped monuments to spirits from Arab folklore, give the site a Flintstonian feel.

the walk in
the walk in

the Marriott crew poses at "art school"
the Marriott crew poses at "art school"

Rawan does her best Wilma Flintstone impression
Rawan does her best Wilma Flintstone impression


The next section is The Siq, a narrow passage through the mountains leading to the carved city of Petra. Exploring the colors and textures of the sandstone canyon was one of my favorite parts of the visit. You can see my full homage to this natural wonder in my last post "Pet Rock."

entering The Siq
entering The Siq

rockin' out
rockin' out


One hazard was the horse-drawn buggies designed for those unwilling or unable to make the walk. They'd come zooming by with little warning, although after a while we began listening for thundering hooves echoing off the canyon walls.

donĀ“t get trampled by lazy tourists in buggies
don´t get trampled by lazy tourists in buggies


At the end of The Siq, the carved facade of The Treasure emerges. This is the iconic view you see most often, but is no less spectacular to behold.

iconic Petra
iconic Petra


Cue the Indiana Jones theme song!

The Treasury
The Treasury

oktapodi often gets mistaken for Indiana Jones
oktapodi often gets mistaken for Indiana Jones


Unfortunately you can't go inside The Treasury, known in Arabic as Al-Khazna, but you can wander around and admire the carved facade. Crafted by the Nabatean civilization in 60BC, the structure is actually a gigantic tomb, covered in Greek-influenced columns and carvings.

Corinthian columns
Corinthian columns

http://www.pulpology.com/?esid=pics&z=4023&KWID=154
Hellenic warriors

loving how the light moves across Al-Khazna
loving how the light moves across Al-Khazna


The scene in the Treasury plaza is a chaotic pastiche of camera-wielding tourists, camel-wielding touts, and wheelbarrow-wielding maintenance men.

Captain Jack Sparrow working the Petra crowd
Captain Jack Sparrow working the Petra crowd

in front of The Treasury
in front of The Treasury

Lindsay, Rawan, oktapodi, Mark, Aftab
Lindsay, Rawan, oktapodi, Mark, Aftab

Treasury Plaza
Treasury Plaza

cameltoe
cameltoe

obligatory cheesy tourist shot with fake guards
obligatory cheesy tourist shot with fake guards


We continued down the Street of Facades towards the Theater, which was also under renovation. Plenty of cool stuff to see along the way, though.

lightshow
lightshow

Rawan photographs Lindsay
Rawan photographs Lindsay

mellow touts
mellow touts

festively-attired donkeys
festively-attired donkeys

Street of Facades
Street of Facades


The fact that the Theater was off-limits didn't stop Aftab, who hopped the fence to take a better picture. I'm happy to note he didn't end up on an episode of "Locked Up Abroad."

renovations at The Theater
renovations at The Theater

Aftab behind bars
Aftab behind bars


There was no shortage of touts trying to sell us camel rides or trinkets, but they weren't nearly as aggressive as I'd expected. Some of them, like this young girl who approached us with an armful of necklaces, were surprisingly friendly.

vendors
vendors

touts awaiting their next customers
touts awaiting their next customers

hey, shouldn't you be in school?
hey, shouldn't you be in school?


We weren't able to stick around for the hike up to the Monastery, as a member of our troupe had to get back to Amman for a flight. (A handy excuse just as the heat was starting to crank up.) But the stroll back through the Siq rewarded us with a delicious color show.

more spectacular lighting changes on the walk back
more spectacular lighting changes on the walk back

breathtaking
breathtaking

a rose-red city half as old as time
"a rose-red city half as old as time"


Then, sadly, back to reality.

annnnnnd back to the cheese!
annnnnnd back to the cheese!

time for souvenirs
time for souvenirs


And thus concludes the lengthy curation of my many-many Petra pics. Check out the links below for other posts and allllll the photos uploaded from our Jordan travels. Next up, our side trip to Beirut!

For more fabulous travel snaps check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* Photo Friday: Pet rock
* Photo Friday: unexpected Petra
* Photo Friday: waking up in Petra
* Wanderfood Wednesday: epicurean despot
* Teambuilding in Amman: the hills are alive
* In my Dead Sea bowling shoes
* Photo Friday: Middle East teaser
* browse all Jordan posts

* browse all Jordan pics
* browse all Petra pics

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments


07 June 2013
Photo Friday: Pet rock

Petra is most famous for its Nabatean-carved structures like the Treasury and the Monastery ...and we'll get to those in a future post. But even before the Treasury emerges from beyond the canyon walls of the Siq, visitors are treated to a spectacular display of sandstone colors and textures.


It's a photographer's wet dream.


I started to see faces everywhere in the charismatic rock formations.

I'm gonna eatcha!


The gorgeous hues seem to shift with each passing minute. We lucked out with a sunny morning, and left the site just as the afternoon heat began to seriously bake everything.


More to Petra pics to come! I'm just getting warmed up. Here's the rest of what I've uploaded so far. Meanwhile, for more fabulous travel snaps check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.

 

RELATED POSTS:
* Photo Friday: unexpected Petra

* Photo Friday: waking up in Petra
* Wanderfood Wednesday: epicurean despot
* Teambuilding in Amman: the hills are alive

* In my Dead Sea bowling shoes
* Photo Friday: Middle East teaser
* browse all Jordan posts

* browse all Jordan pics (still a work in progress)
* browse all Photo Friday posts

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments