Beirut about town, a sunset on the water, and a tattoo.

Beirut Travel Blog

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Building in Place d' Etoile

We woke up later than planned because our wake-up call didn’t come. Rob called for our breakfast and then hit the shower. While I was getting ready the food came and we have a small breakfast. We were going to have croissants, but the hotel’s oven broke so they couldn’t bake them. We discussed the day, made the plan, and were off. Just after we got out into Solidere (Downtown) we saw a shop selling souvenirs and postcards. We decided it was better to buy them early and send them since we were planning on day tours. Post cards in hand we headed to the Place des Martyrs. This is a statue in next to Solidere. When we approached the statue we noticed it had bullet holes and one of the statues was missing half an arm. We weren’t sure if this was intentional or due to bombings.

Pattern on the Mohammed al-Amin Mosque
Then we realized we had post cards, and sure enough the damage was due to bombing, amazing and fitting. The square had been lush and beautiful and was now a harsh and damaged lanscapse exists where lush palms and beautiful flower beds had families playing around in the park with the view in the distance of the Meditereanean Sea.

After that we headed out to find the Saifi village. This was listed in Lonely Planet as a place where the craftsmen of the region gathered to work and sell their goods. Rob got a little turned around and we wondered around for while. When we finally found the area we stumbled on a cute café. Balima is a café and furniture store. You actually get to try out the furniture while you eat. The furniture is on the menu between the food selections.

Shrapnel marked statue of the Place des Martyrs
We both had fresh salads and had quiche. Rob couldn’t resist trying a hot dog. When it came the bun was like a sleeve that had been slid over the meat. We had a leisurely lunch and I started working on postcards. I can only do a little at a time because my thumb still bothers me from breaking it over two years ago. While we were eating Rob noticed a young black woman sitting by herself but occasionally she would jump up and attend to a baby that a couple had. Apparently she was the nanny and not allowed to be with the couple while they had their friends with them. We notice a quite a few nannies or care givers over the next few days. They were normally Asian or African.

After eating we looked around the Saifi village. Since it was Sunday most things were closed.

Rob and his hotdog
what Lonely planet had made it out to be an enclave for cool shops and artists was not to be found. It has a couple of interesting shops, it is not an enclave of artisans. They must have moved??? It was around 15:00 now and the heat of the day was pounding down on us. We decided the best thing to do would be to go to an Internet café and work on the blog and email for a bit to beat the heat. Lonely Planet said there was one on the top floor of the Virgin Mega Store, it has closed. The writer of the Lebanon segment of the Lonely Planet was starting to piss me off and there would be more times!

While at Virgin we talked with some guys about taxis. There are regular taxis and service cars. Service cars will pick up other people along the way so it is cheaper.

Piegion rocks
You should always negotiate the price up front and pay at that point. If a driver doesn’t take your offer there are lots more to chose from. We headed out and the first taxis refused us, wanting double what should have been the fare. In the end, we paid half of what we had the previous day to go further. We went back to the Internet café we found the previous day.

After beating some of the heat of the day we were on the street again and hungry for a snack. We went Lina’s on Hamra. It is a chain restaurant, but the food was good and ingredients fresh. The milkshakes were excellent. It was obvious that the locals from the neighborhood hung out here...always a good sign.

After food it was off to the Rawsheh Rock (Pigeon Rocks), one of the only natural features in Beirut.

Boat man who tooks us around the caves of Piegion rocks
The sun was on a steady descent when we arrived. There were lots of people there to look at the cliffs and be on the promenade. The rocks are large and impressive, but the areas around them take away from the beauty. We understood why all the shots in the book were from a certain angle to hide the ugly.

A man asked if we wanted to go out in a boat to the caves. At first we weren’t sure. Rob went back and asked about the price and details. The next thing I know we are climbing down the hill to the water. Rob had negotiated a 20 minute ride in 5 caves for $20, not bad! Along the way, people were smiling and friendly....saying hello. We got in the boat and headed for the big rock. The water was a little choppy, but the views of the sunset and cliffs were fantastic.

Red light in Solidere (not like Amsterdam)
The captain was a fun and friendly guy. He told me my name in Arabic was Brahim. On our way out we saw all the men swimming at the public "beach area"but, no women. After we went through the large arch of the Pigeon Rocks formation, it was on to a smaller cave then a larger one. In the larger cave we could hear bats which were roosting inside. Back out on open water, we headed back to the beginning. The sun was turning amazing shades of orange, yellow, and deep red. It was an amazing sunset to witness in a little boat on the Mediteranean.

When we got back and were taking a last gaze at the views a family started talking to us. They were very friendly and spoke good English. The youngest, a six year old boy named Rashid, was very pleased with himself.

Rob getting a henna tattoo
You could also see the pride in his mother’s face. After a nice chat we headed back down the coast, passing the Lena Park with its Ferris wheel. Once we were back in the area from the night before, we decided to take a taxi back to the hotel.

We dropped our stuff in the room and opted for an easy dinner at Arabika again. We tried a mesa made of eggplant. It was alright but a little heavy on the smoky flavor for me. The Homos (humus) was very good and the smoothest I have ever seen. Deserts were excellent again. After dinner we walked the neighborhood and look in some shops. We found a jewelry store/ Internet café named Momento next to a Dunkin Dounuts. Great find for the neighborhood since the other one listed in Lonely Planet was closed. On the way back to the room Rob got a henna tattoo on his arm. It was done by a really charming your art student that had designed the tattoo herself. It's a good thing he has big arms, because he picked a big tat. Once it was finished he couldn’t touch it for at least 30 minutes. We headed back to the room and Rob read more of "A Little History of the World" to me. This is a great book, easy read, and reminds you about the major events in human history. It's a page turner. This was a great end to another interesting day.

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Building in Place d Etoile
Building in Place d' Etoile
Pattern on the Mohammed al-Amin Mo…
Pattern on the Mohammed al-Amin M…
Shrapnel marked statue of the Plac…
Shrapnel marked statue of the Pla…
Rob and his hotdog
Rob and his hotdog
Piegion rocks
Piegion rocks
Boat man who tooks us around the c…
Boat man who tooks us around the …
Red light in Solidere (not like Am…
Red light in Solidere (not like A…
Rob getting a henna tattoo
Rob getting a henna tattoo
Street of Solidere
Street of Solidere
Me with the clock in Place d Etoi…
Me with the clock in Place d' Eto…
Spires of the Mohammed al-Amin Mos…
Spires of the Mohammed al-Amin Mo…
Mosaic of St george in Solidere
Mosaic of St george in Solidere
St George Greek-Orthodox Cathedral…
St George Greek-Orthodox Cathedra…
Roman columns in
Roman columns in
American brands with Arabic writti…
American brands with Arabic writt…
Pop top, reminds me of my youth
Pop top, reminds me of my youth
Back of the AlOmari Mosque
Back of the AlOmari Mosque
Street of Solidere
Street of Solidere
Street of Solidere leading to Plac…
Street of Solidere leading to Pla…
Robin Place d Etoile
Robin Place d' Etoile
Building on the Place d Etoile
Building on the Place d' Etoile
St George Greek-Orthodox Cathedral
St George Greek-Orthodox Cathedral
Domes and minarets of the Mohammed…
Domes and minarets of the Mohamme…
Mohammed al-Amin Mosque
Mohammed al-Amin Mosque
Side view of St Gerorge Greek-Orth…
Side view of St Gerorge Greek-Ort…
View of Beruit
View of Beruit
Mohammed al-Amin Mosque
Mohammed al-Amin Mosque
Blue domes of Mohammed al-Amin Mos…
Blue domes of Mohammed al-Amin Mo…
Pattern on the wall of Mohammed al…
Pattern on the wall of Mohammed a…
Church behind the Saifi Village
Church behind the Saifi Village
Arch of Mohammed al-Amin Mosque
Arch of Mohammed al-Amin Mosque
Beruit Skyline
Beruit Skyline
Rob and me at the statue in Place …
Rob and me at the statue in Place…
Statue in Place des Martyrs
Statue in Place des Martyrs
Detail of statue in Place des Mart…
Detail of statue in Place des Mar…
Rear of statue in Place des Martyrs
Rear of statue in Place des Martyrs
Square in the Saifi Village
Square in the Saifi Village
Modern muslim woman
Modern muslim woman
Cute painting in the Saifi Village
Cute painting in the Saifi Village
Stop in any language
Stop in any language
Church near Saifi Village
Church near Saifi Village
Beruit coast line near Pigeon Rocks
Beruit coast line near Pigeon Rocks
Cliff of Coast near Pigeon Rocks
Cliff of Coast near Pigeon Rocks
Modern buildings and ancient coast
Modern buildings and ancient coast
ROb at Pigeon Rocks
ROb at Pigeon Rocks
Me at Pigeon Rocks
Me at Pigeon Rocks
Pigeon Rocks form the water
Pigeon Rocks form the water
Caves of Pigeon Rocks
Caves of Pigeon Rocks
Inside cave at Pigeon Rocks
Inside cave at Pigeon Rocks
Rob and me goign through arch of P…
Rob and me goign through arch of …
Leaving a cave in Pigeon Rocks
Leaving a cave in Pigeon Rocks
Rob enjoying enjoying a boat ride …
Rob enjoying enjoying a boat ride…
Me in the boat at Pigeon Rocks
Me in the boat at Pigeon Rocks
Sunset from the boat at Pigeon Roc…
Sunset from the boat at Pigeon Ro…
Sunset on the water
Sunset on the water
Pigeon Rocks
Pigeon Rocks
Men hanign out at the water at Pig…
Men hanign out at the water at Pi…
Men swimming at Pigeon Rocks
Men swimming at Pigeon Rocks
Boats at dry land at Pigeon Rocks
Boats at dry land at Pigeon Rocks
Ferris wheel at Lena Park
Ferris wheel at Lena Park
Beruit cats at night
Beruit cats at night
Lots of people out in Solidere at …
Lots of people out in Solidere at…
Clock of Place d Etoile at night
Clock of Place d' Etoile at night
Rob with his new henna tatto
Rob with his new henna tatto
Rob and the tatto artist, it was h…
Rob and the tatto artist, it was …
Beirut Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
A quick bite and furniture forsale?!
Just north of Downtown, Safi Village is going thru a transformation. One of the new restaruants is Balima. It offers quick meals or just a drink. They… read entire review
Beirut
photo by: vulindlela