The different factions that are fighting in Syria are located close to the northern border of Lebanon, not far from Aleppo in Syria where much of the fighting between the rebels and the government has taken place, Ragland pointed out. “The rebels seek refuge and train in northern Lebanon. That's why it's somewhat a regional issue as to when, why and where you should go.”
As for Beirut, Ragland notes, “In the past, it was called the 'Paris of the Middle East,' and it's regaining that grandeur. It has beautiful beaches and ski resorts, wonderful historic sites with Roman and Greek antiquities, Crusader history, castles and ruins. It is much more Westernized than the rest of the Middle East with a good, vibrant night life. In addition, the Lebanese food is wonderful. My first choice for a place to go would always be Beirut — but of course my heart is there.”
The Lebanese people are known for their warmth, and Ragland described them as “some of the most gracious and hospitable that I've ever known. And do they hate Americans, as we hear so much? Nothing could be further from the truth. On that trip I mentioned earlier, we had five destinations, and we got the best service, handling, and the nicest people to deal with on the entire trip in Beirut.”
There was no evidence of the war damage at all at the airport, Ragland said, “and the city is under repair from the ravages of the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war. The Beirut museum has been redone and shouldn't be missed. The Junea area is a good place to visit, and a short drive away is Baalbek, built as a temple to Baal and a wonderful archeological find.
“There are the caves at Jietta, where I visited as a kid, about a 45-min. drive from the city in the east. Also, there are the Cedars of Lebanon, Byblos, Sidon and Tyre [all ancient cities dating from the Biblical era].”
Hanlon reminisced about a field trip he and a flight crew took on earlier flight to Lebanon, this into the Bekaa Valley where he almost froze to death in an alpine winter (in the Middle East!) and witnessed “absolutely amazing” Roman ruins.
Thus it goes with Lebanon, this stunning, constantly amazing, dangerous destination.
Use Your Company's Security Resources
When planning a trip to a country where terrorism or war are risks, use every resource you have available to monitor the situation on the ground at your destination and assess overall risk trends before making a decision to go.