Bayrout and Start of Journey on Horseback

Oct 22nd

Our first sight of Turkey to-day was the mountains of Lebanon stretching away in the distance, one peak after another, and the town of Beyrout, which has a cheerful pleasant look from the water. To get to the Hotel we had to go through the Custom House, a rude shed in which were a few officials and hundreds of Arabs shouting and bawling to get hold of our traps, while a dirty foreman tried to keep them in order, and in doing so was not chary of using both prods and blows with a long stick. First example of King of Persia medicine a "five ... stick". After enduring this confusing din, the Custom House examination consisted of an individual just looking into one portmanteau and passing the rest.

I occupied my morning posting my letter and looking through the town. It has about 70,000 people in it and is better elevated, and generally more attractive, than Smyrna; but there is nothing particular to charm. Only goods are pretty cheap, and anything necessary for travelling inland can be had here as cheap as at home. Most of the party provided themselves with a green umbrella and sundry other things.

In the afternoon the horses, which are to be our companions and conveyors for a month were brought round for inspection: and they were a poor screwy lot. Our 4 ladies had first choice, and the rest of us got our noble steeds by lot. Mine fell on a bright brown little animal that carries itself as though it had done with all sublunary matters. And when I tried it he found objections to various small matters in road, and showed that his spirits, in the way of going home, have not quite departed. However, on better acquaintance I may be able to give him a better character: and will delay giving him a name for a day or two.

Had a bathe, and found the waters warm and refreshing. There are some decent swimmers here, I should guess, seeing that the springboard for the baths (they are in the margin of the bay) is about 15 ft from the water.

Had a decent dinner. Most of the party off early to bed, as we start in good time tomorrow and commence our equestrian tramp.

Oct 23rd

Soon after light this morning we were all mounted on steeds and in marching order. Our baggage was put up in sacks and slung across mules' backs. Soon after leaving Beyrout the ascent of the mountain begins, and continues gradually till we reach about 5200 ft, when we begin to descend again. The views on the ascent are very grand and beautiful - deep gorges and valleys open before us as we wind up the road, while nearly all the road we have traversed, and Beyrout in the distance and the grand background of blue sea, lies before us at each bend of the road. It ever continues getting grander and more extensive. For miles, the desert is also very fine - bold semicircular arranged hills and perpendicular rocks constantly coming into view. Right below us is the vast plain of Lebanon, bounded by the Anti-Lebanon range. These two ranges of mountains run almost parallel with each other; the vast plain lying between them.

At 12 o'clock we came to a halt for lunch spread out on carpets. Had cold chicken, meat, sardines, bread and grapes. Ate too heartily of the latter and began to feel uncomfortable on the afternoon ride, and by reaching the camp near the foot of the mountain, felt about done up. It had been very hot early in the day, and very cold near the mountains towards evening. Felt better for the little dinner I took, and went to bed early; but the diarrhoea came on worse. I had to get up all night at intervals of an hour or two. Rode about 28 miles.

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