Douma, Lebanon

Photo: My Stone Cellar

By the end of August, the Mediterranean coast is hot. Unbearably hot. Temperatures usually have three digits. Cool breezes are nonexistent. While clouds, forget the possibility of any rain, are nowhere to be found.

You need to head inland. The heat may have settled along Lebanon’s waterfront, but there’s relief less than 20 miles away. Winding roads climb into the Batroun Mountains. Apple and olive trees, along with grapevines, grow in the rocky soil. Steep cliffs and deep valleys drop off the narrow sides. They lead to quiet, traditional villages.

Douma is your destination. The little town in northern Lebanon was first settled by the Greeks and the Romans. The Turks and the Ottomans followed. Then the Christians arrived. So there’s a lot of history here. You can see it in the stone houses with their red-tiled roofs. You can see it in the town square, which sits atop a 4th-century sarcophagus (ancient stone coffin). And you can see it in Lady of Dormition, an impressive Greek Orthodox church.

Photo: My Stone Cellar

You came to Douma to visit the Heritage Museum, which showcases the long history of the town. You plan to wander through the souk’s slim alleys, where homemade fig jam, tannour bread, blueberry syrup, and huge olives are sold. You want to hike into the hills to find the Baatara Gorge Waterfall in a limestone cave. Plus you’ll probably watch hours slip away from an outside table at a little coffee house.

My Stone Cellar is your home base while you explore Douma. The stone guesthouse sits in the center of the village. The old building once housed cellars that stored olive oil. Marble floors and heavy wooden furniture decorate the spacious rooms. While the owner is happy to share Douma’s secret spots that haven’t found their way into any guidebooks. You’ve found a true respite—not just from the heat—in Lebanon’s mountains.

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