As strange as it may be to describe a country in such a way, I will say that Lebanon touched me. I have traveled there many times since my twenties, and have always been warmly received, despite the many hardships that have befallen the small country: civil wars, invasions, massacres, and attacks. And yet, the Lebanese have maintained their good humor, enthusiasm, and joie de vivre; their sense of hospitality and relaxed attitude are heroic. I have not been back since the civil war that bloodied the country forty years ago. Of course, the country has changed, Beruit has changed, but the Lebanese themselves have not, to the great benefit of those who love them, and those who travel there.
The center of Beirut, a place I once knew to be crowded and full of life is now comparatively deserted, partially razed by the destructive civil war. This rather bizarre and incongruous structure was once one of the most famous nightclubs in Lebanon.
Henry Pharaon was one of the most astute collectors in Lebanon and an important figure in Beruit. I knew him before his murder. His house has since been transformed into a museum, where the owner once welcomed me. Shown is an ornate salon decorated with the spoils of ancient muslim palaces.
Sidon, Saïda in Arabic, founded thousands of years ago, is one of the oldest Mediteranean ports. The ruins of an imposing caravanserai that once welcomed traders and merchants from all around rise from the coast.