Today, I checked out of my hotel in Beirut and, with Guillermo, a Biochemist from Buenos Aires on vacation who was staying at my hotel, went to Byblos, an old Phoenician town that was conquered by Alexander, and the Romans, and the Arabs at various stages in its history. He said the ruins at Baalbek are better, but at this point I'm a little anxious to get out of Lebanon. It's not a safety thing at all--as usual, it feels like the greatest threat to my life is from oncoming traffic. It's just very pricey here (well, in Beirut anyways), and I've been feeling a bit hassled by the local populace. Plus, I have 12 days or so before I have to be in Athens, and I still need to see the north of Syria (2-3 days), get to Istanbul (c. 30 hours), and then I want to be generous with Istanbul and western Turkey.
So anyways, Byblos was reasonably interesting. The signage was actually much better than a lot of other places I've seen in the area. But, since I was moved out of Beirut, and planning to stay in Tripoli for the night, I had my bag with me. I wouldn't say it's excessively heavy... maybe 20-30 pounds, and I've hiked for many miles with a lot more weight. But all the same, I wasn't going to mistake it for a feather any time soon.
After the ruins, we got lunch, then went and relaxed on the beach at Byblos. This was very nice, and I realized that I hadn't yet actually been in the Mediterranean. The sea that, supposedly, this trip is centered on. Sure, I spent a good while next to it in Egypt, on the bus between Marsa Matrouh and Alexandria after Siwa. But the beaches in Alex aren't really that good. And after that, I've been in the Red Sea, and the Dead Sea, but not the Med Sea. Thus, I ceremoniously dipped my toes in the water (it's still not really beach weather yet), then went and lay down on the pebbley beach.
After that, we parted ways and exchanged contact information. He's going back to Beirut, and I went on to Tripoli. No, not the one in Libya... there's another one in Lebanon. Can you only have Tripolis in a country that starts with L? Where's the third one(TRI-poli, right?)? Latvia? I got in to my hotel, then wandered around for a bit, and found this internet cafe.
Oh yeah, on the other half of the Tyrian ruins... I could well believe that the Hippodrome is the largest remaining, but I really don't know about best preserved (LP claims it's the "largest and best preserved" or somesuch). It's only got a couple sections left. I think the Hippodrome at Jerash might've been better preserved, though certainly smaller. I guess it's all a question of how do you quantify "well preserved-ness". Other than that, they had an impressive Funerary city, practically littered with Sarcophagi. It was here that an old woman came up to me and started talking to me, saying something to the effect of she likes America, but not Israel. I respond as politely as I am able to in my fairly poor Arabic.