Hello! I hope you’re all doing well! I had an absolutely amazing time in Lebanon, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. I’ve decided to split my recap into two parts: this post will focus entirely on my bucket list and the next post will focus on all the things I did that were not on my bucket list. Before I get started, I want to apologize because I do not have any pictures to include with either of these posts. I planned to have my phone on me during any outings so I could take lots of pictures, but it just happened that my cousin was willing to carry my phone for me, so I didn’t have access to it a lot of the time. I hope you’ll still enjoy reading about my experiences!
1. Purchase an Arabic version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone [Not Completed].
I only went shopping twice during my trip, and unfortunately, I didn’t get an opportunity to visit a bookstore.
2. Visit a women’s only beach [Not Completed].
I’m not disappointed that I didn’t get to visit a women’s only beach. I would not be comfortable swimming, and the terrain probably would’ve been difficult to navigate with the particular wheelchair I brought with me, so there probably wouldn’t have been much for me to do anyways.
3. Visit the shrine of Sayeda Khoula (peace be upon her) [Completed].
Whenever I look back on my trip, this stands out as one of my favourite things I got to do. The shrine itself is enclosed in a larger dome-like structure (I assume it’s a mosque). There are sitting areas throughout and shops selling souvenirs. I vividly remember the designs in the corridors leading the shrine; they were absolutely beautiful. There is also a map showing the journey Imam Hussain’s son, sister, women, and children took from Karbala to Damascus after Imam Hussain’s martyrdom. The entrance to the shrine is divided by gender, and only the men’s entrance was wheelchair-accessible. Thankfully, I was able to enter from the women’s side with help from my family. Once inside, I felt a calming effect come over me; it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I had no desire to speak; I suppose I was in awe. I felt completely at peace. I hope to visit more shrines in the future.
4. Eat feteh in Baalbek [Half-completed].
I had really bad stomach pain the day I visited Baalbek, and I didn’t want to make it worse by eating feteh, which is heavy on the stomach. I did, however, get to eat feteh (prepared two different ways) during my trip. It was delicious—I found the food in general to have so much more flavour than here in Canada. I’m not sure why, but there is a distinct difference. So, I didn’t eat feteh from Baalbek, but I did eat it, which is why I’m marking this half-completed.
5. Shop for hijabs and summer dresses [Completed].
There are shops of every kind lining the streets of Lebanon—no matter where you go. I visited a small store in Bint Jbeil. The store entrance was not wheelchair-accessible, but again, I was able to enter with help from my family. I spent a bit of time in there, and although I did not buy any hijabs, I purchased a dress for an occasion I had coming up and two sets of prayer clothes—one for myself and another as a gift. Overall, it was a very positive experience.
6. Visit a mosque [Completed].
Like I said above, I think the holy shrine of Sayeda Khoula (peace be upon her) is enclosed in a mosque, and I visited a few shrines (that you’ll read about in Part 2) that were designed in the same way, so I think I did technically complete this item on my bucket list. I saw many mosques during my trips around Lebanon, and I quickly learned to recognize them by their singular tall pillars. These pillars are used to call people to prayer—the height makes it easier for people to hear. Although I never saw a muadhen (the person who recites the call to prayer) in action, I grew to love hearing the adhan (the call to prayer) every day. The mosques are so beautifully designed, and I haven’t seen anything close to their architecture in Canada.
7. Take a boat ride around the Roauche Rocks [Completed].
I visited the Roauche Rocks twice during my trip. The first time was the day after I arrived, and we ended up meeting a man, with a very unique nickname, who coordinates the boat rides. I didn’t go on the boat ride until the day before I travelled back home, but it was an amazing experience, and I owe it all to this man. He arranged for our cars to be able to park near the water (ideal for accessibility and the terrain) and he and another one of his guys picked up my wheelchair and carried it across the rocky terrain and onto the boat. I was blown away how much these men were willing to do for me—a stranger. There was no way to secure my wheelchair on the boat, so my family kept a firm hold on it. We didn’t go too fast, and once I got used to the rocking of the boat, I was able to enjoy the experience. We went just as the sun was setting, so it wasn’t too dark or too hot. I highly recommend giving the boat ride a chance.
8. Visit a Starbucks [Completed].
I had my first ever latte courtesy of a Starbucks in Lebanon, and I loved it. I do not drink coffee. No matter how many times I try it, I find it too bitter for my taste. However, I feel like lattes are a perfect balance between bitter and sweet, and I am definitely a fan.
9. Visit the ruins in Baalbek [Half-completed].
Like I mentioned above, I had stomach pain the day I visited Baalbek, so I wasn’t feeling well enough to visit the ruins. We ended up driving by them and stopping to take a few pictures, so I did see them.
That concludes part one of my recap! Overall, I am very happy with everything I was able to accomplish from this list. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my post as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’m very excited about part two—it includes things like Mlita, Jeita Grotto, restaurants, and more. Stay tuned! I am not planning on writing about the process of travelling overseas, but I will gladly answer questions if you have them! If there’s enough interest, I will consider writing a post about the logistics of travelling.