November 15, 2018

Our Last Day and Some Final Thoughts

Our final day of the trip had arrived.  Upon leaving the delightful city of Zahle and our excellent hotel, we arrived at the archeological site of Anjar.  It is on the Damascus Highway, and less than a kilometer from the border with Syria.  This is also one of the only archeological sites in Lebanon that does not involve layers of time and different occupations.  It was built around 714 AD by the Umayyad Dynasty, and overrun and abandoned by 744 AD.  Here are some photos.  Note the brilliant blue sky, the first of our whole trip!
The ridge in the background of this photo is on the Syrian border.  We were that close. 

Our last and most fabulous lunch of the trip was at the local tourist restaurant Shams.  In addition to more food than could fit on our table, the restaurant featured indoor gardens, a bowling alley and even sushi.  It was quite a place. 

On our way to the Beqaa Valley a few days previously, some of us noticed a huge sodalite pillar situated near the edge of the highway.
On our way back over the mountains, we were looking for that pillar so that we could stop and take some photos.  Our Lebanese guide directed the bus to pull over, and we jumped out to find not only the larger pillar near the highway, but another one in addition to a large rose quartz on either side of the doorway to the “Gemstones of the World” store.
This turned out to be a very large gem and mineral store owned by a Brazilian family.  What a surprise.  As some of you may know, I collect crystal skulls.  I am always on the lookout for them, but none had been found at all on this trip until today.  I was thrilled to find two great ones here.  That made my day.

Upon arriving back in Beirut, I walked the Corniche with two friends from the trip.  What a delightful way to end the journey. 

All in all, this was a very action packed and challenging trip, and I do not regret going.  However, this is why I won’t be traveling with Megalithomania in the future.  This is the second trip that I have taken with them, and I would definitely not travel with them again because of some very unprofessional behavior from Hugh Newman and Andrew Collins (and Brien Foerster).  The way that they run their trips is this.  They hire a tour company that makes arrangements for the transportation, retains a local guide, and makes all of the arrangements for food and lodging for the group.  Then Hugh and Andrew carry on as if they were fellow travelers instead of the leaders of the trip.  This included being late to the bus numerous times and holding up our departure, standing in front of something that people were trying to photograph, Hugh's constant filming of everything, and Andrew’s ongoing obsession with the incident at Gobekli Tepe. 

I am not alone with the complaints.  We had many disgruntled people there at the end.  The trip to Mexico was even worse.  Megalithomania failed to assist in making sure that people got to the airport on our final morning, in addition to other issues, so that there were many very angry travelers upon departure.

Bottom line, what we paid for the trip enabled Hugh and Andrew to travel for free, and they spent most of the time filming and furthering their own research instead of guiding us through the various sites.  In addition to all of that, they use their research and photography to earn extra money for themselves after the trip is finished. As our “employees”, they should have been focused on us, instead of themselves.  If you can tolerate all of this, by all means, travel with them as they go to some interesting places.  I will not be traveling with Megalithomania again. 

No comments:

Post a Comment