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Ventana - An Enchanting Resort in BIg Sur

Summary: I love Ventana. I highly recommend visiting  and exploring the landscape at Lime Kiln and Andrew Molera State Park which I've blogged about here. Please note this is #notsponsored . Yes, that means we paid our own bill! Lots of details in the following review. including a Post Ranch vs Ventana comparison.  Can you tell there's something exciting beyond this beautiful gate? There's something special about Big Sur, a magic in the light, the presence of the Pacific, the cliffs, beaches, redwood forests and the murmur of the surf. It's one of my favorite places in California. I couldn't think of anywhere else I wanted to be to celebrate turning fifty, because it's a place where there's a sense of nature, space and light and a wide horizon. We've been to Big Sur many times and for a celebration there are two fantastic hotels vying for your attention. The exclusive, modern and very private, cliff top Post Ranch Inn and on the other side of the road the …

Baalbeck, Lebanon

The Bacchus Temple which has withstood earthquakes and civil war
Another of the experiences on our recent trip, let me know if you're enjoying the narrative.
We entered Lebanon easily (on a free 48 hour visa we secured at the border) and after visiting the Ummayad summer palace at Anjur, we drove on to Baalbeck. Baalbeck is in a Hezbollah controlled area, and as we drove towards the site there were prominently displayed images of  Hassan Nasrallah and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The souvenir stands sell Hezbollah flags and t-shirts, which bafflingly seem to be very popular with European tourists. The road was very well maintained, apparently a product of Hezbollah's largesse.

This illustration gives a sense of the temple complex
The illustration above shows the main entranceway on the right - leading to the elevated Temple of Jupiter (or Baal). The Bacchus temple (which is the best preserved today) is to its  left, and the smaller Venus temple can be seen in the far left hand corner of the illustration.  
The main temple entrance today, nobody is there.
The Jupiter Temple
Great Court, between the entrance and the main Jupiter Temple
The site was quite lovely in the late afternoon light, and we had it almost entirely to ourselves. It's  impressive to see, and if Baalbeck were in Europe it would be overrun with visitors.  Though Beirut has  a lot of buzz these days, tourism remains down in Lebanon. 

Lots of wonderful details...

Built over two centuries the site was begun under the Emperor Augustus. The temple complex is expansive and was designed to impress visitors with the power and grandeur of Rome, which it still does today.
This gives a sense of scale, as you can see I was cold!
The stone reminded me of the rich sand colored stone from the Cotswolds, rich and warm in the waning sun. Six columns of the Jupiter temple remain standing, others were removed and shipped to Constantinople to be reused in Justinian's  basilica, the Hagia Sophia. Now of course one of the most famous mosques in the world.
Our guide  was quite a character and makes his living on the small number of tourists. 


Anonymous said…
Your blog is fascinating in all respects. I did notice that though you have traveled a good chunk of the Middle East, you seemed to have avoided Israel. Is there a reason for this, or doesn't that country interest you?
So glad you're enjoying the blog and thanks for leaving a comment, much appreciated. Without comments it's like talking into a void!
On our last trip we had three weeks and focused on Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. We thought about adding Jerusalem at the end, but decided it would make things too rushed. We intend to visit Israel on a seperate trip.