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The Cedars of the Chouf Mountains:
Our fall break was spent heading south and eastward to the Chouf mountains that separate Lebanon from Syria. We ascended the western side of the mountain, pausing at the cedars of the Chouf, one of only two cedar groves left in all of Lebanon. Sadly, only a relatively small grove of trees remain, the last vestige of Lebanon's most famous export to the ancient world. The spot affords a beautiful view of the coastal valley as we paused before continuing up the mountain.
The Beit ed-Dine Palace:
Beit ed-Dine is a small town and municipality in
the Chouf District of the Mount Lebanon Governorate in Lebanon.
It is about 45 kilometres southeast of Beirut. The area is
predominantly Christian, and it is most well known for its 18th
century Beiteddine Palace. Built by Emir Bashir II in 1788 the
site's control has been interchanged between the Ottoman Empire
and later the French Mandate. Today you can enjoy walking around
this beautiful palace after a short drive from Beirut. Entry for
a nominal fee, you can explore some beautiful gardens and
mosaics as well as the lavish lifestyle the inhabitants once
had. Today it remains open to the public however it can be
enjoyed by the sitting President as a summers residence.
Virtual Tour of Beit
Instructions: You may take the tour by clicking on the round navigation icons in each scene, or by selecting the thumbnail option  from the menu at the bottom of the screen. You may view the tour in full-screen mode by clicking on the "full-screen" icon  on the menu at the bottom of the page. If you are using an older computer and experiencing some "jumpiness" in the panorama, click on the compass icon from the bottom menu to smooth things out.
Palace of Amir Amin Palace:
While visiting the Beiteddine Palace, we stayed at the Emir Amine Palace, built by the Sheik of Beiteddine for one of his sons. Apparently, it's good to the be the son of an Amir. We had a large room with huge wooden doors, looking out over the valley below. Sunny and airy, its style was reflective of the rooms in Beiteddine. Also included below is a brief video tour of the hotel by Local Traveler. I must say that it is good deal more upscale than when we stayed there. I doubt we could afford it circa 2019! And doesn't the waiter look like Bashir al-Assad? Maybe he is moonlighting there in case the whole autocrat gig doesn't work out!
Video of Amir Amin Palace Hotel
by Local Traveler
The following morning, we left the Chouf mountains, descending the eastern slope and stopped to visit one of Lebanon's larger wineries, Kefraya. The winery is located in the southern section of Lebanon's Bekka valley, and the winery itself is housed in a former villa. We were greeted by a tour guide, known to the wine purveyors of ACS as simply "Kefraya Pam." She took us on a tour of the fields, the winery, and then allowed us to sample a wide variety of their stock. We stocked up our "wine cellar" before heading back to Beirut!
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