Lebanon is the closest thing I have to a second home. It is the only country other than the United States where I’ve ever lived. It’s nice to be home in Oregon, but sometimes I’m homesick for Lebanon too.
Here are 32 photos of a country that (unnecessarily) frightens some of my fellow Americans, but is actually perfect for tourists.
The port city of Jounieh.
The northern suburbs of Beirut.
Daily Star managing editor Peter Grimsditch tells war stories on his boat.
Driving north from Beirut.
The castle at Byblos.
Roman ruins at Byblos.
The oldest continuously used port in the world (founded by the Phoenicians) at Byblos.
Marble rocks on the beach.
A sunset over the Mediterranean.
The Byblos souk at twilight.
Rafik Hariri’s hometown of Saida.
The remnants of a Crusader sea castle right in front of the old city of Saida.
A Shia village in South Lebanon just outside the Hezbollah-occupied zone.
The central square of a village in the Chouf mountains, homeland of the Druze.
A Chouf mountain valley at the edge of Lebanon’s largest Cedar Reserve.
A sunset over the Chouf.
The Temple of Bachus, Roman city of Baalbeck, Bekaa Valley.
A stray baby kitten at Baalbeck.
The road up Mount Lebanon, homeland of the Maronite Catholics for more than 1,000 years.
Rough geography on Mount Lebanon.
The rugged Qadisha Valley.
An unhappy car on Mount Lebanon.
Another unhappy car on Mount Lebanon.
Yet another unhappy car on Mount Lebanon! All of these were less than 100 feet apart.
Bcherre, birthplace of Khalil Gibran.
My mother in front of a statue of Khalil Gibran, Bcherre.
The majestic Cedars of Lebanon. Some are said to have been there during the time of the Roman Empire.
Inside Mount Lebanon’s Cedar Reserve.
A winter sunset over Mount Lebanon.
One of the many Ottoman-era villages of Mount Lebanon.
A Maronite shrine.
A Maronite church in the clouds at the top of the world.