Mom, are you sure about 1975????

I am 2 weeks into the trip now and I have met quiet a number of people. Besides the “where are you from?” and the “what are you doing (student or job)” the age is always of interest. It enables to put you in a box, compare with themselves and judge on what to think about you. I am never guessed older than 27, mostly 25 or 26. That is a great advantage as mostly students are in the cheap budget hotels. I am seen as one of them giving me all the talk and acceptance I need. I let them have it, being 27, sometimes 29. So I wonder if the “NO” to alcohol, drugs and cigarettes for all my life starts to pay off or if I have a just a baby face – OR -- mom are you sure about 1975?

After the night session with Steve Saturday was a relaxing, chilling day. I hang out in Hamra, the student part of Beirut, met Steve again in a nice chill out bar called “Prag”, washed my clothes and went to bed at 11pm.

Sunday took me to Baalbek, known for its well preserved ruins. The ride there was not spectacular except for the fact that landscapes change very quickly. I choose the sunset which was great, see the pictures.

The evening gave me a lesson on how not to treat Lebanese, which is to be arrogant about what they have built up. I was so stressed about not finding a good internet connection that when entering another café I asked “is your connection also soooo slow?” Very friendly they gave me a place but 2 minutes later I was told: “Hey, maybe its not fast, but its not slow either, so lets say its ok, OK??” The last “ok” was with a raising voice which made it all clear to me. Guess what I answered? Ok.

My polish friends topped that the next day. The evening before I heard them negotiating a taxi price for the mountain route to Bcharre and put myself into the conversation. That was good because it reduced this trip from 60 to 20 Dollars (full day trip), sharing the taxi. So father and mother, 7 year old sun and I asking for a restaurant in a village. A well English speaking woman advices us. On the question “is the food safe?” her face goes into the “what do you want?” mood leading to the reaction: “are you allergic to something?” So also my polish friend learned the lesson, that Lebanese are proud people.

Bcharre lies at the top of Quadisha Valley which is nice but everyone who has been in the Alps or even “Schwarzwald” will not be too impressed. However, the road to get there from Baalbek was pure Dryland over the mountain range (3000m) and very impressive. In Ceder is even a ski resort but this year it seems they will not get any snow. It was hot.

A bus took me to Tripoli where I found my desired Hotel full. In 2007 Tripoli saw some heavy street fighting resulting in a lack of tourists which then let to a shut down of hotels, so there is a shortage. Pierre, the owner, advised me to the other side of the road and I ended with Family Haddad. 4 generations of woman running this apartment in which one room is reserved for tourist. Very much influenced by the French, starting with the language, over the separate toilet without a possibility to wash your hands to the interconnected houses like in Paris, charming and very friendly. First person I meet in the lobby is a UK guy writing a travel book on Lebanon due in 2012. So now I know how these books are made, interesting.

I was with two 20year old American girls, 62 year old south Korean and a Japanese guy.

At dinner we discussed the Obama issue as well as the solutions for Disneyland, which is the term for Israel. Lebanese ignore this country and usually don’t mention it.

Tuesday, what a great day as so simple. Sleep long, wonder through town and taking many photos including the cemetery, eat half a chicken watching Bang Boom Bang on the netbook and chatting with Angi for 4 hours. Nice.

Wednesday was just as relaxed but in a different way. I managed to see the sheep slaughtering for the National Festival called Eid. It is the start (or end?) of the Pilgrim to Mecca called Hajj. The sheep slaughtering refers to the Abraham who wanted to sacrifice his son Ismael and just before doing so, god told him to take a sheep instead. However, it was not what I imagined – massive amounts of people celebrating etc. No, it was just the butchers who seem to get paid by the number watching the speed and brutality in which they killed the sheep. Don´t look at the following pictures if you can´t handle how other cultures treat animal

Children did celebrate the day by playing “street fights” with plastic guns. Don’t know if that is so good for the future peace hopes. But I need to say, even (why do I say even, must be the cliché I still have) in clear Hezbollah parts of town (and I saw BMW´s with sun blocked windows and 4 armed guys in it) I was treated so well and respectful. The pictures hopefully show the kindness of people here.

Then it took me 1 hour to find the right bus, 2 hours till it actually took off (even though the office guy kept telling me it leaves now) and another 2 hours to cross the border. This was not a highly armed border, rather run down buildings in which a kind of organized chaos took place. I have no idea how the system works but everybody seemed to get what they wanted and even I got my passport back. The only moment of thrill was when the officer put a wrong stamp into my passport. He got so nervous, asking 4 others guys what to do, went back and forth 3 times before just crossing it out and putting the right stamp in.

I was in Syria on my way to Hama and within minutes the following differences jumped into my eyes. For the first time I saw stripes on the street to separate lanes. Roads are in better conditions. People stop at red lights, taxis use a meter. There are rail road tracks (Lebanon gave this up, when the system was destroyed in civil war, also distances are too short anyway) and there isn’t hardly anything American. No McDonalds, no American cars (brands) and hardly any Coke or so. Very view American as well as they rarely want or get visas. Hotmail works, Facebook, You tube and Skype is blocked which is a pity. Now that I have a Hotel with great internet connection, Skype is blocked. That’s travelling but at least I can keep you updated on it and while I am writing this I am listening to NDR 2 and Big FM via internet radio hearing that there is a traffic jam in Hannover. Is that cool or rather disgusting; is that the world of today or against the idea of my trip? I am still thinking about it…….

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  • Achim says:

    Hallo Frank!
    Ich bin schlichtweg begeistert von deinem bisher Erlebten!!
    Ein großartiger Start.
    Ich würde mich über ein Videotagebuch freuen (kurz und knackig mit nem schönen Hintergrund – gern genommen Sonnenuntergang, Bergsee, Stadt-Oben-Auf usw..). Das Equipment dafür ist ja schließlich bereits in deinem Besitz..
    Liebe Grüße und bis bald,

    • frank4444 says:

      Very true, I do carry the heavy equipment around and yes, its a good idea. Just that uploading to the internet takes forever. Just yesterday it took 3,5 hours for 46MB. Here in Syria it seems better. I will give it a try.

  • Achim says:

    Sounds great.
    It doesn’t have to be long. Just a short impression..
    Use your smallest possible camera resolution, if you get a chance to, and keep it simple.
    We would love to see your talking head sometimes..

    Take care,

  • thorsten says:

    hi frank,

    so after many days being not online, i received your email and checked out your website first time. Good job, very interesting and your doing much better then i am in updating, shame on me. it takes so long to find the right pictures and text, that i am sometimes too lazy, so pls. do not work as i am.
    Your experiences are very amazing and interesting to read, but pics i could not see yet , as i am at a very little village in Nepal with the poorest internet connection ever. i am fine, came back from a trecking trip yesterday and starting the next one tomorrow in the himalayas. stay in touch and hope that we find a way of travelling together some day.
    wish u the very best.


    • frank4444 says:

      thanks Thorsten but I have Africa ahead of me and I am not sure I can update there regularly. But I will try my best. Enjoy the mountains and be careful.

  • Daniel D says:

    Frank! Ich sehe Dir geht es gut und Du lernst sehr spannende Leute kennen! Deine Berichte sind wirklich sehr gelungen, ganz offensichtlich ist ein kleiner Schriftsteller an Dir verloren gegangen. Freue mich schon auf die nächsten Beiträge.
    Take Care, bist ja erst 27 (mein Gott, unter welchem Alkoholeinfluss müssen Deine Gesprächspartner eigentlich gestanden haben, um das zu glauben…;-)
    Viele Grüße aus dem nebligen und trüben Deutschland

  • Gabor says:

    Lebanese love German cars? Mercedes, BMW and VW. Nice to see on your picture: a black BMW coupe, e46 series, 2.8 liter, facelift and equipped with M3 tuning details ….

  • thorsten says:


    niche zu eingebildet werden, wegen des gering geschaetzten Alters, geht sogar mir so, und ich sehe ja nun um Welten juenger aus als Du, haha….

    Dein letzter Bericht, mal wieder sehr interessant zu lesen. Hut ab, Schriftsteller ist echt der richtige Ausdruck von Daniel…

    Weiterhin alles Gute und hoffe ja trotzdem, dass wir uns irgendwo mal treffen, bin zur Zeit mehr als flexibel in meiner Reiseplanung, die nicht wirklich existent ist.

    By the way: wie kann ich mir einen email reminder bei dir einrichten, so dass ich immer ne info bekomme, wenn du neuen content eingestellt hast. bekomme immer nur fehlermeldungen bei dem fenster?

    bis bald


    • frank4444 says:

      Yes, would be cool to meet but you probably do not want to come back to Africa, where I will be next week. right? Smile. The feature RSS Feedback should work and send you a mail when I post something new. Let me know if it does not work again. FRANK

      • thorsten says:

        RSS Feed geht wieder nicht, folgende Fehlermeldung: The feed does not have subscriptions by email enabled.

        Afrika, will auf jeden Fall nochmal hin, aber wann, keine Ahnung, fuehle mich gerade super wohl in Nepal und dann erstmal Indien. Aber mal sehen, wie und was alles noch kommt. Ich wuerde mich auf jeden Fall freuen.

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