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THIS IS NOT THE FULL BROCHURE

We invite you to call Sarah or Gwen at 1-800-762-4216 to request the full brochure. The brochure will include Important Traveler Information (and answers to most questions) and a Reservation Form. We can send the brochure through the Postal Service or as a PDF attachment. If you would like to receive a PDF, probably the best way to keep the message from going into a SPAM filter is to send a message to sarahb@serioustraveler.com. If you are already on our mailing list, no need to complete the entire brochure request form.

"News from the Serious Traveler"

April 20, 2011
Greetings from Lebanon! We arrived from Syria yesterday afternoon after crossing the border, visiting Baalbek (a huge and amazing Roman city), stopping for lunch of famous Lebanese mezze and more, a taste of wine and tour through caves dating from the Roman period and then crossing the mountains, out of the clouds down to Beirut on the coast of a shimmering Mediterranean Sea. We just completed our first day of sightseeing that took us to the National Museum where we learned about the Phoenicians who had the first phonetic alphabet (get it -- Phoenicians-phonetic?); then to a mountain riddled with subterranean caves. Jetta is vying with a couple dozen other natural sites for the new 7 natural wonders of the world, and all agreed it should be included (along with the Grand Canyon and Halong Bay.) A stop at Byblos was amazing too. The site dates back to the third millennium BC, as do many other sites in what we know as the Cradle of Civilization along the Fertile Crescent. This area is the fabled birthplace of the Greek god Adonis. A city tour revealed stunning new buildings with the most exclusive shops side by side with excavations from Roman times. The city is also riddled with reminders of devastating wars. No one here wants another, and the neighboring Syrians don't either.

Every day has been a delight and we wish everyone who had intended to go with us, was actually here. It is close to midnight, and we head north to the Cedars of Lebanon tomorrow morning. The group is most congenial and we lingered over dinner, while Paulette and others regaled us with amusing travel stories. Even the national basketball team who was sharing the lovely dining room at the Radisson couldn?t ignore our laughter. Our travelers are the best. I must turn in, but will try to write more later. The same Paulette has taken hundreds of pictures and Ann had volunteered to edit them, so eventually we will put our experiences in writing and into a slideshow. Right now we are drinking up all the wonderful sensations of travel to new places.

Gwen

Damascus • Palmyra • Doura Europos • Mari • Derezzor • Halabiya • Raqqa
Rassafa • Aleppo • Saint Simeon • Ebla • Sergella • Apamea • Hama • Saladin Castle
Ugarit • Lattakia • Marqab • Tartous • Krak Des Chevaliers • Maaloula

April 9 - 19, 2011 • 11 days
$3640 per person double occupancy
from New York via Royal Jordanian

Single supplement $650

April 19 - 24, 2011 • 5 days
$1990 per person double occupancy
beginning in Damascus and ending in Beirut

Single supplement $390

Day by Day Itinerary

April 9 Depart New York
Saturday
Meet your traveling companions tonight at New York’s JFK airport by 8:00 PM. Our Royal Jordanian RJ262 flight departs at 11:00 PM.

(meals en flight)

April 10 ARRIVE
Sunday DAMASCUS
Arrive Amman, Jordan at 5:15 PM and connect with RJ435 departing at 8:45 PM. Arrive at the Damascus airport at 11:00 PM. Welcome to Syria! We are warmly greeted and assisted to the hotel for dinner (room service) and overnight. You will thoroughly enjoy the deluxe hotels we have selected for this tour. Luggage handling is provided throughout. (D)

*****Damascus Cham Palace

April 11 DAMASCUS
Monday PALMYRA VISIT
After breakfast, our coach, driver and guide are ready to begin our journey to Palmyra (245 kms/152 miles), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Palmyra is an Oriental town built in a palm grove on a desert commercial cross roads linking the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. It provided an easy trade route from Asia to the Roman Europe. This trade was the source of Palmyra tremendous wealth.

Although it was built before the Roman era, the city was later reshaped to look like a Roman city. Colonnade streets, a triumph arch, Diocletian bath and an Agora were built. The city however, kept temples devoted to the oriental gods: Bel, Baal Shamin and Nebo. Palmyrenian people developed as well a distinctive funerary style: Families’ Tower Tombs, a kind of show off displaying the family’s wealth and power to the city. Many hypogea (underground tombs) are also present in Palmyra and show the refinement and wealth of the city.

Archaeological museum displays some of the superb items unearthed during the archaeological excavations

Our visit includes the museum, the temples of Bel, Baal Shamin and Nebo, the Roman bath, the tetrapyle, the theatre, Diocletian’s camp and the valley of the tombs. We’ll take a lunch break during the visits. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. (B-L-D)

*****Dedeman Palmyra

April 12 PALMYRA – DOURA
Tuesday EUROPOS – MARI
DEREZZOR
After a fortifying breakfast at the hotel, we begin our drive to Doura Europos, a major Greek and Roman city founded in 300 BC by Macedonians. Then visit Mari, one of the great Mesopotamian city-states from the third millennium BC where civilization began well upstream on the Euphrates profiting immensely from control on the trades routes. Lunch break en route during the visits. Continue to Derezzor. Dinner and overnight at the Cham hotel. (B-L-D)

*****Derezzor Furat Cham

April 13 DEREZZOR
Wednesday HALABIYA – RAQQA
RASSAFA – ALEPPO
Our first stop today is Halabiya a fortified town on the bank of Euphrates River. It was kept by the Palmyrenians to defend the eastern border of Roman empire against the Persians.

Our next stop is Raqqa, a city founded by Selucos Nicator II Callinicos in about 244 B.C. The Ommayd Calif Hicham built two palaces in it. The city was constructed by the Abbaside ruler Al-Munser in 754-775 on a slightly modified city plan of Bagdad with a shape of a horseshoe; he made it the capital of the rich province of Jezira in North East of Syria.

Next visit Rassafa, the old Sergiopolis named after St. Sergius who was martyred by the Romans around the year 300 A.D. This became the focal point of religious pilgrimages in the last decades of the Byzantine period.

Lunch break en route during the visits. We end the day in Aleppo with dinner and overnight at another of our deluxe hotels. (B-L-D)

*****Sheraton Aleppo

April 14 ALEPPO – SAINT
Thursday SIMEON – ALEPPO
This morning we visit Aleppo beginning with the museum, the citadel, the famous covered souks, the Omeyad mosque, the 16th-century Christian quarter of Jedaydeh. After a lunch break, in the afternoon we make a short drive to Saint Simeon to see its cathedral. During the fifth century, Saint Simeon stayed 40 years on top of a column here! Return to Aleppo for dinner and overnight at the hotel. (B-L-D)

*****Sheraton Aleppo

April 15 ALEPPO – EBLA
Friday SERGELLA – APAMEA
HAMA
Bid farewell to Aleppo and head to Ebla, the old capital that was discovered in 1977 by Paolo Matthiae. Its royal archives contains 15,000 tablets from the third millennium BC.

On to Sergella, one of the 500 dead cities of the north. These ghost cities built between the 4th and 7th century disappeared around the 9th century of reasons still unknown. This site comprises extensive remains of houses, a church, baths, tombs and sarcophagi. We find a complete Byzantine settlement in a superb and isolated setting.

Later visit the archeological site of Apamea and the mosaics museum. End the day in Hama.

Dinner and overnight the hotel. (B-L-D)

***** Hama Afamia Cham

April 16 HAMA – SALADIN
Saturday CASTLE – UGARIT
LATTAKIA
After breakfast at the hotel, visit Hama with its norias (giant water wheels) located on the Orontes River. Then visit Saladin castle a huge fortress built by the crusaders on top of a mountain. It was the most powerful castle of the principality of Antioch until Sultan Saladin overtook it in July 1188.

After a lunch break, continue to Ugarit, where Neolithic remains were found at the base of the tell (hill).

On to Lattakia, located on the picturesque coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. (B-L-D)

*****Lattakia Le Meridien

April 17 LATTAKIA
Sunday MARQAB – TARTOUS
KRAK DES CHEVALIERS
MAALOULA
DAMASCUS
This will be a day to remember! Our first visit is to Marqab castle, “Castle of the Watchtower” located at the point where the coastal plain narrows to a precarious passage between the sea and the mountains. A Crusader fortress, it was one of the major strongholds of the Knights Hospitaller. Renovation was begun in 2007.

Then visit Tartous, a Phoenician city built as an extension of the main settlement in the island of Arwad (Aradus). In 1123 Crusaders began the construction of the Cathedral Church of Our Lady of Tortosa a fine example of Romanesque.

Continue to visit Krak des Chevaliers one of the most impressive crusaders fortresses. Taken in 1110 from the Emir of Homs by Tancred, Regent of Antioch, the Castle was given to the Count of Tripoli. In 1114, Raymond II, Count of Tripoli transferred the Krak along with his other dependent castles to the Knights Hospitallers. The order massively expanded the existing fortress after 1170. The Krak survived 2 major Muslim challenges but was ultimately conquered by the Mamelukes under the Sultan Baibars on 21 February 1271.

After a lunch break, it is on to Maaloula. This city has three claims to fame: its setting, its early Christian associations, and the resistance of the villagers (until recently) to the final replacement of Aramaic by Arabic as the language of communication. There may be some doubt about the extent to which Aramaic, the language spoken by Christ and the popular lingua franca of the area until the Arab conquest in the 7th century, has remained in active use to the present day. Even the vestigial survival of West Aramaic (Syriac) as a spoken tongue indicates the tenacity with which the inhabitants of Maaloula have clung to their identity.

Drive back to Damascus completing our circle route. (B-L-D)

*****Damascus Cham Palace

April 18 DAMASCUS VISIT
Monday
Damascus is considered by many to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Mentioned in the Bible, the town was established in a large oasis fed by the river Barada. It was capital of the Umayyad Caliphate, which ruled for nearly a century over a vast empire stretching from the Indus to Spain. Our exploration includes the National Museum, Omeyad Mosque, Azem Palace, and the famous covered souks. Via Recta (the street called Straight) , continue to visit Anania’s Church, to see Saint Paul’s window. We’ll also see two of the Gates of the City: Bab Charki and Bab Touma. Tonight is our farewell dinner. (B-L-D)

*****Damascus Cham Palace

April 19 DAMASCUS
Tuesday AMMAN – NEW YORK
Breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Damascus airport with assistance. Royal Jordanian flight RJ436 departs at 7:40 AM arriving Amman at 9:25 AM. Connect to RJ261 departing at 10:45 AM. Arrive New York at 4:15 PM. Welcome home! (B)

B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Note: Flight Schedules always subject to change.


Day by Day Itinerary

April 19 MASNAA – BAALBEK
Tuesday KSARA – BEIRUT
Transfer from Damascus to the Lebanese Border at Masnaa, where we meet our Lebanese guide. Continue to Baalbek, to visit one of Lebanon’s greatest Roman treasures, truly a wonder of the ancient world. See some of the largest, best-preserved and noblest Roman Temples ever built. These are dedicated to Jupiter, Bacchus & Venus. Return to Zahle to visit Ksara’s natural wine cellar. The grotto was discovered by the Romans who consolidated part of the vault and dug several narrow tunnels from the cave into the surrounding chalk. These tunnels were enlarged to their present size during World War I when the Jesuit Fathers sought to alleviate famine in Lebanon by creating employment. Continue to the capital city, Beirut. Dinner is at the hotel. (B-D)

*****Hotel Radisson SAS

April 20 BEIRUT – JEITA
Wednesday BYBLOS – BEIRUT
After breakfast we have a panoramic city tour of Beirut and visit the national museum. Continue to Jeita, with a stop at Dog River. Just after the tunnel on the northern highway we can find commemorative inscriptions and bas relief sculptures carved into the limestone cliffs. Ramses II and Nebuchadnezzar, some of history’s most famous military men, left steles behind to record their victories. Continue to Jeita where we visit Lebanon’s natural miracle, a striking nine kilometers labyrinth of galleries on two levels. The lower river level offers a unique tour by flat-bottom boat past “weeping willows” and gigantic stone flowers. Equally striking is the upper grotto where monstrous mineral animals crouch in shady corners. Continue to Byblos, the most ancient port in the world and the perfect introduction to the many layers of civilization that have existed in Lebanon. The city offers over 6000 years of history and culture. Return to Beirut for dinner and overnight. (B-D)

*****Hotel Radisson SAS

April 21 BEIRUT – QOZHAYA
Thursday BSHARRI – CEDARS BEIRUT
Today we make an excursion departure to the north. First stop is at Qozhaya to visit of St. Antoine Monastery. This popular hermitage is one of the largest in the valley and has been in continuous use since the Early Middle Ages. According to accounts, monastic life there had already been established by the mid-12th Century. Continue to mountain town of Bsharri. Its claim to fame is as the birthplace and resting place of Lebanon’s literary prophet Khalil Gibran. We’ll visit his tomb and the museum at Mar Sarkis Monastery. Bsharri is also the gateway to the winter and summer resort of the Cedars, where we have lunch. In the afternoon we’ll stroll through Cedars Forest with its centerpiece grove of 400 cedars, some of which are more than 1500 years old. The location is both a ski resort and a summer heaven from the heat of the coast. Return to Beirut for dinner and overnight. (B-D)

*****Hotel Radisson SAS

April 22 American University of
Friday Beirut
DEIR EL KAMAR BEITEDDINE – BEIRUT
This morning we expect to be received as honored guests at the American University of Beirut. Continue to Chouf to visit Deir el Kamar a typical Lebanese village. A beautiful drive into the mountain south east of Beirut brings us to Beiteddine Palace. This is Lebanon’s very own Alhambra, an 18th –19th Century palace of richly decorated ceilings, colorful marble mosaics, luxurious Turkish baths and Harem suites in a setting of beautifully groomed gardens. A folkloric museum occupies one wing and the palace’s renovated stables holds an exquisite display of mosaics from a ruined Byzantine church and other structures of the same period. (B-D)

*****Hotel Radisson SAS

April 23 BEIRUT – TYR – SIDON
Saturday BEIRUT
Today we make an excursion South to Tyr (Tyre), Queen of the seas. Here we visit its archeological site featuring many great monuments, including an aqueduct, a triumphal arch, and the largest hippodrome in antiquity, which remains almost intact today, as well as an amazing necropolis. In the afternoon we visit of Sidon, the largest city in South Lebanon. Visit of the caravanserai, the old souks, AUDI soap museum and the Sea castle, a fortress built by the Crusaders in the early 13th century on a small island connected to the mainland by a causeway. Return to Beirut. (B-D)

*****Hotel Radisson SAS

April 24 BEIRUT – AMMAN
Easter Sunday ARRIVE NEW YORK
Breakfast at the hotel and transfer from hotel to airport. Depart Beirut aboard Royal Jordanian RJ402 at 8:45 AM. Connect in Amman and arrive back in New York at 4:15 PM. (B)
Welcome home!

B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Note: Flight Schedules always subject to change.

THIS IS NOT THE FULL BROCHURE

We invite you to call Sarah or Gwen at 1-800-762-4216 to request the full brochure. The brochure will include Important Traveler Information (and answers to most questions) and a Reservation Form. We can send the brochure through the Postal Service or as a PDF attachment. If you would like to receive a PDF, probably the best way to keep the message from going into a SPAM filter is to send a message to sarahb@serioustraveler.com. If you are already on our mailing list, no need to complete the entire brochure request form.


THIS IS NOT THE FULL BROCHURE

We invite you to call Sarah or Gwen at 1-800-762-4216 to request the full brochure. The brochure will include Important Traveler Information (and answers to most questions) and a Reservation Form. We can send the brochure through the Postal Service or as a PDF attachment. If you would like to receive a PDF, probably the best way to keep the message from going into a SPAM filter is to send a message to sarahb@serioustraveler.com. If you are already on our mailing list, no need to complete the entire brochure request form.

Damascus • Palmyra • Doura Europos • Mari • Derezzor • Halabiya • Raqqa
Rassafa • Aleppo • Saint Simeon • Ebla • Sergella • Apamea • Hama • Saladin Castle
Ugarit • Lattakia • Marqab • Tartous • Krak Des Chevaliers • Maaloula

April 7 - 17, 2012 • 11 days
from New York via Royal Jordanian

April 17 - 22, 2012 • 5 days
beginning in Damascus and ending in Beirut

Preliminary Day by Day Itinerary

April 9 Depart New York
Saturday
Meet your traveling companions tonight at New York’s JFK airport by 8:00 PM. Our Royal Jordanian RJ262 flight departs at 11:00 PM.

(meals en flight)

April 10 ARRIVE
Sunday DAMASCUS
Arrive Amman, Jordan at 5:15 PM and connect with RJ435 departing at 8:45 PM. Arrive at the Damascus airport at 11:00 PM. Welcome to Syria! We are warmly greeted and assisted to the hotel for dinner (room service) and overnight. You will thoroughly enjoy the deluxe hotels we have selected for this tour. Luggage handling is provided throughout. (D)

*****Damascus Cham Palace

April 11 DAMASCUS
Monday PALMYRA VISIT
After breakfast, our coach, driver and guide are ready to begin our journey to Palmyra (245 kms/152 miles), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Palmyra is an Oriental town built in a palm grove on a desert commercial cross roads linking the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. It provided an easy trade route from Asia to the Roman Europe. This trade was the source of Palmyra tremendous wealth.

Although it was built before the Roman era, the city was later reshaped to look like a Roman city. Colonnade streets, a triumph arch, Diocletian bath and an Agora were built. The city however, kept temples devoted to the oriental gods: Bel, Baal Shamin and Nebo. Palmyrenian people developed as well a distinctive funerary style: Families’ Tower Tombs, a kind of show off displaying the family’s wealth and power to the city. Many hypogea (underground tombs) are also present in Palmyra and show the refinement and wealth of the city.

Archaeological museum displays some of the superb items unearthed during the archaeological excavations

Our visit includes the museum, the temples of Bel, Baal Shamin and Nebo, the Roman bath, the tetrapyle, the theatre, Diocletian’s camp and the valley of the tombs. We’ll take a lunch break during the visits. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. (B-L-D)

*****Dedeman Palmyra

April 12 PALMYRA – DOURA
Tuesday EUROPOS – MARI
DEREZZOR
After a fortifying breakfast at the hotel, we begin our drive to Doura Europos, a major Greek and Roman city founded in 300 BC by Macedonians. Then visit Mari, one of the great Mesopotamian city-states from the third millennium BC where civilization began well upstream on the Euphrates profiting immensely from control on the trades routes. Lunch break en route during the visits. Continue to Derezzor. Dinner and overnight at the Cham hotel. (B-L-D)

*****Derezzor Furat Cham

April 13 DEREZZOR
Wednesday HALABIYA – RAQQA
RASSAFA – ALEPPO
Our first stop today is Halabiya a fortified town on the bank of Euphrates River. It was kept by the Palmyrenians to defend the eastern border of Roman empire against the Persians.

Our next stop is Raqqa, a city founded by Selucos Nicator II Callinicos in about 244 B.C. The Ommayd Calif Hicham built two palaces in it. The city was constructed by the Abbaside ruler Al-Munser in 754-775 on a slightly modified city plan of Bagdad with a shape of a horseshoe; he made it the capital of the rich province of Jezira in North East of Syria.

Next visit Rassafa, the old Sergiopolis named after St. Sergius who was martyred by the Romans around the year 300 A.D. This became the focal point of religious pilgrimages in the last decades of the Byzantine period.

Lunch break en route during the visits. We end the day in Aleppo with dinner and overnight at another of our deluxe hotels. (B-L-D)

*****Sheraton Aleppo

April 14 ALEPPO – SAINT
Thursday SIMEON – ALEPPO
This morning we visit Aleppo beginning with the museum, the citadel, the famous covered souks, the Omeyad mosque, the 16th-century Christian quarter of Jedaydeh. After a lunch break, in the afternoon we make a short drive to Saint Simeon to see its cathedral. During the fifth century, Saint Simeon stayed 40 years on top of a column here! Return to Aleppo for dinner and overnight at the hotel. (B-L-D)

*****Sheraton Aleppo

April 15 ALEPPO – EBLA
Friday SERGELLA – APAMEA
HAMA
Bid farewell to Aleppo and head to Ebla, the old capital that was discovered in 1977 by Paolo Matthiae. Its royal archives contains 15,000 tablets from the third millennium BC.

On to Sergella, one of the 500 dead cities of the north. These ghost cities built between the 4th and 7th century disappeared around the 9th century of reasons still unknown. This site comprises extensive remains of houses, a church, baths, tombs and sarcophagi. We find a complete Byzantine settlement in a superb and isolated setting.

Later visit the archeological site of Apamea and the mosaics museum. End the day in Hama.

Dinner and overnight the hotel. (B-L-D)

***** Hama Afamia Cham

April 16 HAMA – SALADIN
Saturday CASTLE – UGARIT
LATTAKIA
After breakfast at the hotel, visit Hama with its norias (giant water wheels) located on the Orontes River. Then visit Saladin castle a huge fortress built by the crusaders on top of a mountain. It was the most powerful castle of the principality of Antioch until Sultan Saladin overtook it in July 1188.

After a lunch break, continue to Ugarit, where Neolithic remains were found at the base of the tell (hill).

On to Lattakia, located on the picturesque coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. (B-L-D)

*****Lattakia Le Meridien

April 17 LATTAKIA
Sunday MARQAB – TARTOUS
KRAK DES CHEVALIERS
MAALOULA
DAMASCUS
This will be a day to remember! Our first visit is to Marqab castle, “Castle of the Watchtower” located at the point where the coastal plain narrows to a precarious passage between the sea and the mountains. A Crusader fortress, it was one of the major strongholds of the Knights Hospitaller. Renovation was begun in 2007.

Then visit Tartous, a Phoenician city built as an extension of the main settlement in the island of Arwad (Aradus). In 1123 Crusaders began the construction of the Cathedral Church of Our Lady of Tortosa a fine example of Romanesque.

Continue to visit Krak des Chevaliers one of the most impressive crusaders fortresses. Taken in 1110 from the Emir of Homs by Tancred, Regent of Antioch, the Castle was given to the Count of Tripoli. In 1114, Raymond II, Count of Tripoli transferred the Krak along with his other dependent castles to the Knights Hospitallers. The order massively expanded the existing fortress after 1170. The Krak survived 2 major Muslim challenges but was ultimately conquered by the Mamelukes under the Sultan Baibars on 21 February 1271.

After a lunch break, it is on to Maaloula. This city has three claims to fame: its setting, its early Christian associations, and the resistance of the villagers (until recently) to the final replacement of Aramaic by Arabic as the language of communication. There may be some doubt about the extent to which Aramaic, the language spoken by Christ and the popular lingua franca of the area until the Arab conquest in the 7th century, has remained in active use to the present day. Even the vestigial survival of West Aramaic (Syriac) as a spoken tongue indicates the tenacity with which the inhabitants of Maaloula have clung to their identity.

Drive back to Damascus completing our circle route. (B-L-D)

*****Damascus Cham Palace

April 18 DAMASCUS VISIT
Monday
Damascus is considered by many to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Mentioned in the Bible, the town was established in a large oasis fed by the river Barada. It was capital of the Umayyad Caliphate, which ruled for nearly a century over a vast empire stretching from the Indus to Spain. Our exploration includes the National Museum, Omeyad Mosque, Azem Palace, and the famous covered souks. Via Recta (the street called Straight) , continue to visit Anania’s Church, to see Saint Paul’s window. We’ll also see two of the Gates of the City: Bab Charki and Bab Touma. Tonight is our farewell dinner. (B-L-D)

*****Damascus Cham Palace

April 19 DAMASCUS
Tuesday AMMAN – NEW YORK
Breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Damascus airport with assistance. Royal Jordanian flight RJ436 departs at 7:40 AM arriving Amman at 9:25 AM. Connect to RJ261 departing at 10:45 AM. Arrive New York at 4:15 PM. Welcome home! (B)

B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Note: Flight Schedules always subject to change.


Day by Day Itinerary

April 19 MASNAA – BAALBEK
Tuesday KSARA – BEIRUT
Transfer from Damascus to the Lebanese Border at Masnaa, where we meet our Lebanese guide. Continue to Baalbek, to visit one of Lebanon’s greatest Roman treasures, truly a wonder of the ancient world. See some of the largest, best-preserved and noblest Roman Temples ever built. These are dedicated to Jupiter, Bacchus & Venus. Return to Zahle to visit Ksara’s natural wine cellar. The grotto was discovered by the Romans who consolidated part of the vault and dug several narrow tunnels from the cave into the surrounding chalk. These tunnels were enlarged to their present size during World War I when the Jesuit Fathers sought to alleviate famine in Lebanon by creating employment. Continue to the capital city, Beirut. Dinner is at the hotel. (B-D)

*****Hotel Radisson SAS

April 20 BEIRUT – JEITA
Wednesday BYBLOS – BEIRUT
After breakfast we have a panoramic city tour of Beirut and visit the national museum. Continue to Jeita, with a stop at Dog River. Just after the tunnel on the northern highway we can find commemorative inscriptions and bas relief sculptures carved into the limestone cliffs. Ramses II and Nebuchadnezzar, some of history’s most famous military men, left steles behind to record their victories. Continue to Jeita where we visit Lebanon’s natural miracle, a striking nine kilometers labyrinth of galleries on two levels. The lower river level offers a unique tour by flat-bottom boat past “weeping willows” and gigantic stone flowers. Equally striking is the upper grotto where monstrous mineral animals crouch in shady corners. Continue to Byblos, the most ancient port in the world and the perfect introduction to the many layers of civilization that have existed in Lebanon. The city offers over 6000 years of history and culture. Return to Beirut for dinner and overnight. (B-D)

*****Hotel Radisson SAS

April 21 BEIRUT – QOZHAYA
Thursday BSHARRI – CEDARS BEIRUT
Today we make an excursion departure to the north. First stop is at Qozhaya to visit of St. Antoine Monastery. This popular hermitage is one of the largest in the valley and has been in continuous use since the Early Middle Ages. According to accounts, monastic life there had already been established by the mid-12th Century. Continue to mountain town of Bsharri. Its claim to fame is as the birthplace and resting place of Lebanon’s literary prophet Khalil Gibran. We’ll visit his tomb and the museum at Mar Sarkis Monastery. Bsharri is also the gateway to the winter and summer resort of the Cedars, where we have lunch. In the afternoon we’ll stroll through Cedars Forest with its centerpiece grove of 400 cedars, some of which are more than 1500 years old. The location is both a ski resort and a summer heaven from the heat of the coast. Return to Beirut for dinner and overnight. (B-D)

*****Hotel Radisson SAS

April 22 American University of
Friday Beirut
DEIR EL KAMAR BEITEDDINE – BEIRUT
This morning we expect to be received as honored guests at the American University of Beirut. Continue to Chouf to visit Deir el Kamar a typical Lebanese village. A beautiful drive into the mountain south east of Beirut brings us to Beiteddine Palace. This is Lebanon’s very own Alhambra, an 18th –19th Century palace of richly decorated ceilings, colorful marble mosaics, luxurious Turkish baths and Harem suites in a setting of beautifully groomed gardens. A folkloric museum occupies one wing and the palace’s renovated stables holds an exquisite display of mosaics from a ruined Byzantine church and other structures of the same period. (B-D)

*****Hotel Radisson SAS

April 23 BEIRUT – TYR – SIDON
Saturday BEIRUT
Today we make an excursion South to Tyr (Tyre), Queen of the seas. Here we visit its archeological site featuring many great monuments, including an aqueduct, a triumphal arch, and the largest hippodrome in antiquity, which remains almost intact today, as well as an amazing necropolis. In the afternoon we visit of Sidon, the largest city in South Lebanon. Visit of the caravanserai, the old souks, AUDI soap museum and the Sea castle, a fortress built by the Crusaders in the early 13th century on a small island connected to the mainland by a causeway. Return to Beirut. (B-D)

*****Hotel Radisson SAS

April 24 BEIRUT – AMMAN
Easter Sunday ARRIVE NEW YORK
Breakfast at the hotel and transfer from hotel to airport. Depart Beirut aboard Royal Jordanian RJ402 at 8:45 AM. Connect in Amman and arrive back in New York at 4:15 PM. (B)
Welcome home!

B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Note: Flight Schedules always subject to change.

© 2014 Travel Concepts International, Inc. CST 2005743-40

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wen@SeriousTraveler.com • Web site www.tci-travel.com or www.SeriousTraveler.com