After leaving to Beirut I headed to Baalbek. A city that I thought was a must because of the ruins and history of the place. Baalbek is a small town and administrative capital of Hizbollah, who dominates most of the Beqaa Valley and Southern Lebanon. You could see their yellow flags and posters everywhere although its pretty safe and there was no real danger. Baalbek’s’ ruins are immense, they are overpoweringly big, it’s on a site that has pre-Roman history with continuous upgrade all the way to the Muslim conquers. Its temples are grandiose and impossibly big, to imagine how the stone was moved (some of the biggest pieces in the world) and the intricate crowns were carved is mind-boggling.
As I sat reading a book on a ledge overlooking the pillars and the sunset behind them, a man walked by yelling “Shakespeare!” After he gave up on selling me ancient antique coins he sat down and we had an interesting conversation about how he had learned Italian and a little Spanish during his time as a merchant selling to the UN workers in the south of Lebanon. He also talked about how the city had changed and that it was no longer “beautiful.” That now people came only to see the ruins, they no longer want to see the city and its people. Interesting.