Thursday, June 10, 2010

No Fatwahs please!

Our reason to visit Baalbeck was to visit the ancient site - which is a World Heritage Site and to quote the guide book is ‘one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman Architecture at its apogee’.

Well I am no expert but it looks to me like a fabulous and colossal site and is a must see when you go to Lebanon.

It is a bit of a struggle to get there because even though it is only 100 kilometers from Beirut the roads in places are diabolical.

The most recent Israeli incursion in 2006 did an immense amount of damage and destroyed a large part of the infrastructure - but the Lebanese are getting accustomed to rebuilding their country after its regular flattenings so are beavering away non-stop.

The best business to have in Lebanon is a cement plant.

We passed some of the largest - and smallest - Palestinian refugee camps. These look dreadful and I can only imagine the horror that has dogged these wretched people for so long.

There is no point in trying to discuss this because the mention of either Israel or Palestine in any forum invites frenzied attacks from all over and I don’t want death threats cluttering up the comments - or indeed Fatwahs winging their way to Vienna.

It will suffice for me to say that what has been done to the Palestinian people - and continues to be done - should make us all angry and ashamed. It certainly does me.

We decided that we love Lebanese food - and so ate nothing else but. We had a fabulous meal at Karam downtown and were left to the tender mercies of a waiter called Fakim - and who we christened Fakyu - because that is how he treated customers.

I have never encountered anyone with less interest in helping us choose a meal and indeed we were soundly berated for asking the same question twice.

‘I have already told you’ he scolded - threateningly closing his order pad.

‘Please no Fakyu’ we said ‘ we will ask no more questions but please do not leave us’ (the other waiters were showing even less interest in us than Fakyu)

He was fabulously unfettered in his lack of concern about our meal so we entered into the spirit of things and chose things wildly and hurriedly from the menu - with not the foggiest notion of what some of them were.

There were indeed some strange but delightful concoctions served but it was all terrific and I gave Fakyu an extra large tip just for being so joyously unhelpful.

We pitched in to help an Italian couple next to us deal with Fakyu just before we left and I think they may have ended up with 12 different types of chickpeas - but we left before their meals arrived.

We then walked through the centre of town and around the Place d’Etoile where the buildings have been beautifully restored.

We managed to eventually attract the attention of a waiter who was discussing with his colleagues the relative merits of the German 4-4-3 formation with which they won the 1974 World Cup.

His colleagues thought this would not work today and that a starting formation of 4-4-2 is always going to be the most common - but there could be some surprises from the African teams.

Australia’s best chance will be with a 4-6-4 formation but this is unlikely to be allowed.

We attracted the attention of this young man by tackling and sitting on him and Cate had a glass of the local wine. This was not a happy experience and she is unlikely to repeat the exercise.

I have found that the best coffee to drink - anywhere I go - is Espresso - so now I always ask for Espresso with some milk on the side. I have had some very interesting results with this approach. You should try it - it’s loads of fun.


  1. Nice one Badger, so the local wine is no good then? Not even while sitting on the waiter?

  2. Giggling about the chickpeas...

  3. Oh yes, I can see that's a very bad road.

  4. Australia’s best chance will be with a 4-6-4 formation but this is unlikely to be allowed.

    I loled :)

    espresso usually is the best thing to get...if its nice, its amazing...if its terrible, it doesnt take long to finish.

    Good read, thanks.