Lesson learned. Never let Amanda be in charge of the camera. Apparently, I have a talent for not taking a single important picture. This is why I married Ryan- we really should have included camera possession in our vows. On this trip I was partially in charge of the camera and hardly any pictures were taken, surprise, surprise.
Our friend Shelly (aka party/excursion planner extraordinaire), arranged for a large group of us to go out to a winery in eastern Lebanon. Apparently, this is her favorite winery to visit and we soon found out why. I'll go over that but first a little background about the winery and it's location.
Massaya, located in the very fertile area of the Bekaa valley, is owned by two Lebanese brothers Sami and Ramzi Ghosn. The winery's estate, Tanail, has belonged to their family since the 70's but the civil war forced the family out of the area in 1975. Seventeen years later, the two brothers moved back to the family home and dedicated their lives to making wines and Arak. Go Sami and Ramzi!
We loaded up a huge, awesomely air conditioned, bus and drove the hour + drive there. Lots of windy roads but also lots of cool shops and people watching along the way. Nothing like driving towards Syria to make you pay attention to everything! Then the shops end and we are driving in a big construction site. The roads were gravel and I was starting to question our bus drivers navigation skills and party-planning-Shelly's taste in "incredible places to visit". But, within minutes my mind was changed. We took one turn and all of the sudden we were at a lush winery with fields of lavender, big olive trees, and herbs galore.
Did I take pictures of the entry? No. Did I take pictures of the estate? No. Did I take pictures of olives? Yes.
I realize this is hard to imagine with my lack of pictures but just beyond the estate and fields of heavenly smelling plants, there is an outdoor dining area that blew my away. Let's put it this way, what's the one thing that you want to do after you eat a ton of delicious food and wine? If your answer is "take a nap" then we can be BFFs. There were beds/benches everywhere. People were sleeping and smoking Hookahs. Funny that I now feel like that's normal at a restaurant.
The beds/benches that we all ate at. This is our fun ACS group of elementary, middle, high school teachers and administrators!
The wine came out before you really got food in your tummy but they gave us a "breakfast"of snack food before the huge meal that was supposed to come out in an hour. A snack to this group could have been a meal to me! We had bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, yogurt, and a bunch of other things I can't remember but made my tummy very happy.
We were surrounded by lush gardens, but this basil centerpiece made it all the more fresh.
To see all the stuff I forgot to take pictures of, please, PLEASE watch this episode of Anthony Bourdain's trip to Massaya. It's exactly like our experience and they capture all the grapes, lavender and copious amounts of food that was served. Fast forward to about 03:40 and you'll see it all.
I was eating for hours and hours so no pictures were taken. If I can steal some from a friend, I'll put them up. Until then, you can see the pictures of what happens when open container laws aren't in place in a country. We were already having fun talking and relaxing, then.... the bus driver turned the radio on. I'm not sure I totally get Lebanese music but to a bunch of tipsy/drunk people it turned into their favorite new song. I couldn't stop taking pictures. The exact opposite of what I did at the actual winery. Boo.
If you only knew how hard it was to dance on a bus that was driving switchbacks.
My husband can groove. Sexy man.
This is Andrew (high school Health and PE) and Susan (Curriculum Coordinator)
My favorite picture of Mike who finally moved in the stair well for the door so we could dance and hold railings.
Our friend Julianne had to tell Ryan how amazing he was with a kiss. I proceeded to punch her afterwards. JUST KIDDING! This is a kissey country anyway.
When my arms were tired from holding the camera while trying to not crash into dancing people, Ryan took over and caught this little gem.
We loved Massaya and can't wait to go back and gorge ourselves some more (that's what I'm saying in the picture).