Lebanon has been a melting pot of many civilizations, beginning with the Phoenicians, to later conquerors, occupiers and more; Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Arabs and more. The diversity of Lebanon is embodied in the country’s Constitution which provides representation for its eighteen confessional groups, ranging from Christians, Muslims, Druze and other confessional groups.
Today Lebanon is playing host to more than two-million Syrian refugees, swelling the country’s own population of some six million people. This has put an enormous economic strain on the country, compounded with a very corrupt government that has also drained the banking system. As a result, what was a rather easy currency situation until October 2019 where the US dollar and the Lebanese pound were interchangeable, the Lebanese currency has since been devalued 90%. Thus, many Lebanese who were middle class are now quite poor and thus one is often confused as to the prices of nearly all commodities and services from day to day as people adjust to the currency exchange of the day. This banking currency issue has been compounded by the August 2020 eruption of a bombing at the Beirut port, which not only brought death, but left many families homeless, as well as destroying many businesses, particularly in some of the most-lively areas.
Your guide, Elie, will enlighten you about this and further explain the situation.
Despite all of this, the liveliness and resilience of the Lebanese people will be very evident and remains one of the nicest features of Lebanon.
Day 1, Friday, February 3– Beirut arrival
Upon arrival into Beirut, you will be met at the Beirut airport by a driver to transferred to your boutique hotel in central Beirut. Take some time to relax and recover from your flight. At night, there will be a “Welcome Dinner” introducing you to your fellow travelers and what will be the first of many Lebanese culinary treats that will be interwoven throughout the trip. Overnight in Beirut. (D)
Day 2, Saturday, February 4 – Beirut
Beirut is a wonderful walking city. It has many neighborhoods, often a reflection of the demographic make up of its residents. Today’s touring will be interspersed with walking, driving in the city and a visit to the National Museum.
Archaeological ruins found in central Beirut while rebuilding after the Civil War
You will learn throughout this trip how the many faiths and ethnic groups among the Lebanese interact in daily life, from the confessional system of the government, to Beirut neighborhoods and to more outlying regions of Lebanon that we will visit in the days to come.
You touring includes the National Museum of Beirut, with its extensive archaeological remains.
Marble, the Santuary of Eshmus, found near Sidon, Lebanon. Ca 350 BC