After lthe late night the alarm went off way to early. Add to that the rain, and a mild hangover, and I was not excited about heading to Baalbek. However since I put it off yesterday I draged myself out of bed. Stopped at a travel agent to buy a plane ticket to Amman, Jordan (out of Beirut on Middle Eastern Airlines - am I brave or just stupid?), grabbed a quick bite to eat, a series of three taxis / service taxis and I was there, five an a half hours later!
It was still switching from drizzle to sun to rain every few minutes, but that kept the other tourists to a minimum (there were probably 10 others around the site). It's an impressive temple complex. Much is well preserved, and it's been restored pretty well. Unfortunately it's been overly developed for tourism (some temple rooms have been converted to offices and bathrooms). Also like most established archiological sites all the interesting bits (dark passages / stairs / towers - anyplace that might be concidered dangerous) have been blocked off. This "taming" has robbed Baalbek of a lot of it's power.
An equally exciting taxi ride home (severe bargaining, the driver wanting more after we got almost home, the taxi breaking down, and finally another taxi).
This day trip sort of introduced me to the realities of Lebanon's existance. There were probably 20 checkpoints that were passed through in the two hour ride to Baalbek. About one third of them were Lebanese military, one third Syrian, and one third people in no uniforms caring mis-matched automatic rifles. The third group was obviously the most worrysome. I never did figure out who they were. The check points randomly checked ID (four times), had everyone get out and frisked them (twice), searched the car (once), or did nothing (most of the time). I also saw a number of soldiers driving around in vehicles clearly marked UN. Despite how Beirut looks, Lebanon may still have a ways to go before it's settled all the way down.
After stopping by the internet cafe to check email I decided to go to a movie. The only movie that sounded interestig wasn't due to start until 10:30 and it was only 9:15 so I decided to get something to eat. I gave in I went to The Hardrock Cafe. Actually there are two Hardrocks in Beirut. I had a salad, and it was amazing, it's been a long time since I've had a good salad. I also had a Long Island which sounded good (and was), and then I was read for the movie. I went and saw The Jackal which I thought started out really good and went downhill from there, still pretty entertaining though.