It was one of my last weekends in Lebanon and my friend and I had decided to spend a fun-filled weekend. There were a couple of options – a day of horse-riding or a day of ATVing! It was a tough choice. I really love horse-riding but I had never been on an ATV. My curiosity prevailed and we headed up to the mountains in the North East of the country, near the Syrian border.
We had a general idea of where we were going – the instructions we got basically said ‘Follow that road until you see the ATVs. You can’t miss them!’. Never mind once we got to a certain area there were many ATVs parked by the road and we started wondering exactly which ones we couldn’t miss!
The scenery got more and more arid as we drove away from the coast. It was dry, it was mountainy and it was dusty. The scenery was the color of sand and there wasn’t much growing anywhere on the mountain. It was hard to imagine that the Lebanese ski there in the winter. It was hard to imagine snow in Lebanon at all!
The ATVs that we couldn’t miss were lined up on what seemed to be a parking lot just off the main road (in the Faraya region). We parked our little rental car and my friend headed into the improvised office to negotiate the rental price.
While all of this was happening I stood among the ATVs, looking at them and getting increasingly nervous. I didn’t want to ride one of them little tractors on my own. They did look quite intimidating. So my friend and I shared one, while the guide took another one.
We really wanted to do a longer trip that day, one that would take us to the cedars forest, a national treasure. However we were told that we were about 20mins too late for that trip and got offered another one instead.
We went through some gorgeous desert landscapes, sweeping rocky, sandy vistas as far as the eye could see (as far as the Syrian border actually). It was also extremely dusty. I quickly learned that one shouldn’t wear one’s newly bought, Chanel glasses. They were sparkling blue when I started and powdery white 10mins later. Still they made a small difference stopping the sand from going into my eyes. There was nothing that could be done about the dust going into my mouth. Grinning wide probably didn’t help either!
After some time I got pretty comfortable at the back of the ATV and a little bored of being a passenger. Besides it would have been such a waste if I didn’t at least try to ride one of them babies! So the boys bunked up on one ATV and I got the other 🙂 A bit jerky at first but quickly got into it and then it was smooth sailing! And I loved it. It was seriously exciting and so much better than being a passenger.
We went up and down and around the sandy hills, went through some smaller paved roads where I could really push it (may have lost control and skidded of the road on a sharp, slippery turn), and we also drove through some major highways which was a bit unsettling. I really didn’t like having all these cars whizzing past. That’s when we switched ATVs again and I was back with my friend who was an experienced rider.
The scenery in that part of the country was so different compared to the coastal scenery I was used to in Beirut or the northern coast. It was a lot more real with normal houses rather than shiny skyscrapers, lots of farmland, vineyards, and tomatoes.
After about 4h on he ATVs we though we’d call it a day. It does get pretty tiring after a while 🙂 So we rounded off a great day in nearby restaurant – a natural dirt floor, gorgeous colourful fabrics hung from the ceiling, a few open fireplaces dotted around, rustic wooden tables and benches covered in hand woven rugs. The food was to die for! And so artistically served as well. They gave us a bowl of a selection of whole fresh veggies which I thought was quite cool as it allowed me to make my own salad just the way I wanted it. Reminded me of my childhood which is always a great thing 🙂
Food done, I watched one of the waiters walk around the tables ceremoniously serving freshly brewed coffee from a beautifully decorated pot into even more beautiful hand painted ceramic cups. I couldn’t resist it and thought I’d have a cup even though I don’t drink coffee. it looked great, it smelled fantastic, how good was it going to be?
I was really going to enjoy it! I smelled it, I loved it and I took a tiny sip. And then I spit it back into its pretty cup. It was so horrible! Bitter and thick and disgusting. Don’t let me put you off Lebanese coffee, it is probably delicious for those who like coffee but it is truly and irrevocably wasted on me.
The drive back, into the gorgeous Arabian sunset however was not.