Woke up and was surprised and happy because…… IT HAD SNOWED!!! A couple people were up before me and when I came into the living
room, they said it had snowed, but I didn’t believe them as our group dynamic is one of sarcasm and white lies!! However, a quick look out the window soon confirmed that for once they weren’t lying and it indeed had snowed. This was good news because the slopes had become a little icy the previous day and this light covering would help with all the slopes.
As today was Saturday, it was the weekend in Lebanon. Here in the UAE, we have a Friday/Saturday weekend and today we noticed a significant increase in the number of people heading to the slopes. Not long after we were up, we started to see the cars and more alarmingly, the buses arriving. I commented on it whilst there, that it is a great way of life, to be able to think that 1 hours drive away from the centre of Beirut, you can get away from the city and have a good few hours on the slopes. However, if you are only visiting briefly (like us) then it’s not good, because far too many people were turning up to get their days skiing and snowboarding in.
After a quick breakfast we hit the slopes and after a couple of times trying to queue for the lower slope lifts, we realised, that a) Lebanese people do not queue and b) they don’t care if you tell them how rude they are! They do say that the British love to queue, but I don’t think that this was a case of queuing for queing’s sake. Even if you put your ski poles or snowboard in the way, there were people clambering over them and pushing you out the way to get to the front of the queue! It was obviously the done thing to do, as a Lebanese guy next to us, told us that those pushing in were the ‘smart’ ones. Much smarter than us, because we were foolish and waiting in line!
At this point we decided that everyone was ready for some new slopes and so headed off to a lift that we hadn’t taken before which seemed to head off into the heavens! After the snow the previous evening there was a lot more cloud cover as well and so we jumped on the ski lift and were whisked up into the fog!
It was exciting to be heading up to a part of the mountain we hadn’t been before, but also daunting because we were heading up to somewhere we hadn’t been before and we couldn’t see a thing! Havind said this, we managed to find a way down the mountain, that turned out to be quite a nice scenic route in the end, but as I am not that good on a snowboard, there was a lot of flat transition phases that I wasn’t very good at handling. But we got to the bottom and everyone seemed to have enjoyed it, so we headed back up the same lift again. This one had little to no queue so made sense, even though we couldn’t see very much to go up again. We managed a few different routes down and then we were all coming down, when the skies closed in and it really began to snow! Awesome in terms of more snow on the slopes. Not so great because coupled with the fog, the heavy snowfall meant you literally had no visibility at all. I had goggles on so that helped, but a couple of the others were only equipped with sun glasses which meant they came off and they were having to ski/board with no eyewear at all!! This did make for an exciting trip down the mountain but after a wrong turn which left us trudging across a traverse in the new soft snow we got to the bottom of the mountain and decided that even thought it was quite exciting and thrilling, it was just getting a bit too silly in terms of visibility – so we called it a day on the slopes and headed inside to warm fire.
During the day we were joined by our friend Kim who is a teacher and lives in Beirut. She joined us for a few runs towards the end of the day. Morwenna had very kindly packed her scales and some cake mix to make Annalisa a birthday cake as this was the main reason for the trip. We were missing a couple ingredients but Kim volunteered to head down to the supermarket. Somehow, directions were lost in translation and Kim went for a very long walk down the mountain. Eventually she came back and both Kim and Morwenna worked their magic in the kitchen. Not long after and a wonderfully tasty cake was presented along with balloons and drinks!
You can see the lovely cake just to the left of Matt W’s head in the picture! He was providing the entertainment for Annalisa’s birthday – quite funny he is too! So we had drinks and cake and general hilarity in the apartment. We didn’t really think it through though because having eaten so much cake, crisps and chocolate no one really wanted to go for a celebratory meal! But Annalisa had wanted to go to the Italian restaurant in the Interncontinental hotel and so off we went. However, on the way we all realised that we weren’t hungry in the slightest and so maybe a snack kind of food would be better than a full blown Italian meal. We once again explored the diner option, but it seemed that the entire child population of Beirut had made it’s way up the mountain an into this particular restaurant!
We ended up in the Italian and had some rather lovely pizza to share between us all, as well as some take away as there was far too much for us all. Another walk up the mountain after having eaten too much food and it was time for bed, so that we could make the most of our last day on the slopes on Sunday. We had an evening flight booked and Matt N negotiated a late check out for us, so we could snowboard for the entire day and then back and be ready for our pick up at 5.30pm. Once more a fun filled day, good friends, good food, good times.