“Go Ben Hur!”

The view from our hotel room in Tyre

A weekend away was just what we needed to prepare ourselves for the frantic dash to the end of the school year and our packing to head home.  We enjoyed visiting Tyre with Tim and Francoise back in the fall of 2010, so we booked a room at the same seaside place we stayed with them.  While less than fancy, the fact that the place sat directly on the water,  had a decent restaurant with outdoor seating, and a magnificent breakfast balcony overlooking the Mediterranean, all made up for what it lacked in sophistication.

A portion of the hippodrome chariot track

After a stop in Saida for a falafel sandwich, and a few wrong turns that led us into the hills of southern Lebanon, we found our way to the hotel by noon on this sunny Saturday.  We lounged on the deck for a few hours, enjoying the sunshine and vistas, some hummus and a couple of cold Almazas before we walked to the ruins of the Roman hippodrome, considered the best preserved Roman hippodrome in the world.  If you have seen Ben Huryou undoubtedly remember the chariot race.  In the movie that scene was set at this site in Tyre.  There are several sections of seating preserved or reconstructed from the stadium, which sat 20,000 in its time.

A portion of the stadium seating

The easily recognized chariot track, the sections of seating and the turning stone, or metea, that the chariots raced around, made it very easy to envision toga clad residents of Tyre cheering on chariot racers.   A collonaded road, with a large Roman arch marked the entry to the Roman city and is part of the historic site.  For some reason, marble and stone sarcophagi from the 2nd and 3rd century AD are found along the road leading to the arch.  Unfortunately, Lebanon has done little to promote this incredible site.  There are no guides, brochures or anything in the way of explanation of any part of this large and amazing archeological site.

The triumphal arch, gateway to the Roman town of Tyre

Our walk to and from the hippodrome took us through the small but bustling souks of Sour,  as Tyre is known by the locals.  The fishing harbor is undergoing renovation, and if they clean up the area and the water in the harbor could be an attractive little area.

Besides the historical sites, we really enjoyed drinks, dinner and breakfast sitting feet away from the Mediterranean.   The weather was perfect, the water was refreshing, and the Almaza was cold.  Just what the doctor ordered.

Waiting for Ben Hur to round the metea

Fishing harbor scene

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5 Responses to “Go Ben Hur!”

  1. howdy802 says:

    Sure is amazing following your journeys. What is causing the water to need cleaning?

  2. Janet D says:

    Its definitely a place I wanna visit this time I’m there! Last February/March it was to much raining, so couldn’t go around like I’d wanted. Can’t wait to be in Beirut again … 3 weeks to go and yeah, I’m back home (though I’m a Swiss 🙂 returning almost every 3 month since 2 years!
    By the way … like to come to your blog too! Its a real treat, to read about your experiences!

  3. David Friel says:

    Mike & Sharon,
    Thanks for all the blogs. It was a great idea on your part and wonderful to be able to share your experiences. You make a great travel advisor/writer. See you soon. David & Deb

  4. Silvana Bartlett says:

    Hi Mike and Sharon
    We found you on the Internet because we too are about to retire and go to Beirut to teach! We’ve loved reading about both your travels and your work experiences. What a shame you won’t be there when we arrive. At this point we can’t imagine how we’re going to pack up 30 years of stuff and what we really need to bring with us to make a home in Beirut for two years. Any advice you can give us would be greatly appreciated.
    Silvana and Bruce

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