We finally got both our girls here, along with Ben and Victor, all of which made Christmas 2011 a very special one for us.
We enjoyed Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Kate’s birthday, Dec. 26, in Lebanon. Mike’s Playstation quickly became the entertainment for our time in the apartment. Thanks to Victor and Ben we were able to play split screen, head-to-head racing games. The competition was intense, with Ben showing early signs of racing prowess, only to be overtaken, first by Mike and finally by the ultimate champion of the track, Brittany. You go, girl!
We rented a car which allowed us to get around city and country easily. Well, easy does not really describe the driving in Lebanon, but you know what I mean. We showed them ACS, we walked the Corniche and the new Marina, as well as the downtown area. One afternoon we headed down the coast to Saida where we toured the Crusader castle, the souks, and the soap museum. We finished the afternoon off with some great falafel sandwiches.
The highlight of the week was four days in Istanbul. Each couple headed out each day to tour the city on their own. This allowed Sharon and me to have new adventures in Istanbul. We took a short boat ride up the Bosphorus, we learned to enjoy the Grand Bazaar as well as the Spice Market, and we made our way up to the old land walls and the Chora Church/Museum. This place is a true gem and I advise visitors to Istanbul to be sure to visit. The mosaics, some of which are still in excellent condition given their age, are magnificent. We spent some time across the Golden Horn in Beyoglu where we visited the Pera Museum, the Pera Palace Hotel and The Istanbul Modern Museum. Istanbul ranks right up there as one of our favorite cities.
Oh, ya….we even convinced all but Victor to experience a Turkish bath!
We returned to Beirut where we celebrated the week and New Year’s Eve with Sandra and Phil in our apartment.
It was wonderful having the kids here. Their departure made us realize how much we missed being near family and friends, which led to our decision to come home at the end of this year.