I couldn’t resist writing again about Lebanon. The New York Times travel section has once again featured Lebanon — this time the article is on Byblos, an ancient port city that is up the coastline from Beirut. This beautiful area is near my father-in-law’s house and last summer we spent a lot of time roaming the cobbled streets and enjoying the souks, restaurants and beaches. The writer Lionel Beehner has done a great job describing Byblos, which is enjoying a rebirth.
If Beirut is the Paris of the Middle East, as the cliche goes, then Byblos, some 22 miles up the coastline, is its Cannes: an ancient port framed by pre-Roman ruins, white sandy beaches and cedar-topped mountains. The city is famous for its fish restaurants, which serve up fresh red snapper and sea bass to an international clientele. Party yachts cruise into its spectacular harbor at sundown, the way Brando and Sinatra did during Byblos’s prewar heyday, docking next to old dinghies and wooden fishing boats with names like “Taxi Joe.”
The fish restaurants, indeed, were quite an experience. The fishermen would be out all night and arrive to the restaurants in the morning with their catch. Then we would pick out our fish and it would be grilled to perfection as we sampled the array of mezze on the table. I loved the fact that there wasn’t a “kids menu” in sight!