A last-minute-flight to Lebanon, May 2010

Beirut Travel Blog

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the stairs connecting Gemmayzeh with Achrafiye

A week crowded with experiences of many kinds in a country that seems to have it all. In a few days I discovered a vibrant capital, ruins from ancient time as well as ruins from the twentieth centurary; a nature with sun, sand and sea as well as steep mountains with snowcovered peaks with a scent of cedarwoods and fresh air. This is Lebanon, the country with its friendly people always ready to help you.

It could have started a little bit better. When arriving to Beirut international airport two o clock in the morning I had booked an airport-pickup service in advance, taking me safely to the hostel in the middle of the night. It occurred that noone was there picking me up, and I waited for almost half an hour, but nothing happened.

Achrafiye
In the meantime I tried to phone the hostel up, but without success. Too tired to hazzle and deal about the price and evenmore, unsure about the safety to grab an ordinary taxi, I tried to get some other airport-pickup service to bring me to my hostel. No success. Suddenly a taxidriver addressed me showing me his id-card and what could I say, anyhow, he took me to my hostel after trying to ensure me how bad my hostel was and wanted me to go with him to his hotel. When he left me outside Talal new Hotel, it was in an alley without any light, totally dark and I could hardly see the entrance, a narrow staircase leading up to the hostel.

'- Good morning, my name is Mr.Bert from Sweden', I told the young man sitting behind his computer with big earphones. He looked at me and asked me how I was doing.

Achrafiye
.. He ensured me that no booking was set and couldn t even find my name. Having said that, he was very helpful and friendly and I ended up in a double room for single use with ensuite bathroom. He apologized and none of us was eager to sort all this out, I said goodnight and he ensured me we should right this up next morning. Next morning I was explained that one need to double-confirm a bookiing at the hostel and how could I know that I need to say twice that I intended to accept my booking???

After this minor misunderstanding I spent a very pleasant time in the hostel sharing travel experiences with travellers from five different states in the USA, from England and Australia, as well as Slovakia and Colombia. We all shared experiences and I learned a lot of good sights to visit in Lebanon.

Hotel Habtour in the district Sin-al-Fil

The first thing that strook me was how big the capital Beirut is. It is impossible in reasonable time to walk around in all districts. The easiest way is to take a service-taxi that costs around 2USD within the city, but be sure ask 'seervice' before you enter the car. Otherwise you can be charged for an ordinary taxi. The traffic is breathe-taking and passing one of the mainstreets by foot is quite of an experience. It seems also like all the drivers compete who can use the horn most frequently.

My first morning in Beirut started with a breakfast at Paul's. They serve very fresh and tasty baguettes and the waiters are dressed up in white baker shirts with some kind of baking cloths on their heads.. :) Paul's is a calm oasis in the middle of the traffic noice.

Hotel Habtour
I strooled around in the city centre and one of the biggest hallmarks is the Mohammed al-Amin mosque with its blue roof. It was built after the war and looks very much like the 'blue mosque' in Istanbul. The interior dominates by big carpets, bright paintings and huge chandeliers heavily hanging down in the ceiling. Next to the big mosque is S:t George's Cathedral, a maronite church dating back to the Crusades. Trying to balance between fastdriving cars and rows of hoardings framing in all buildings under construction, finally I reached the heart of downtown. Around Place d'Etoile with its clocktower the shops are shadowed by archades with its pillars. A number of restaurants and cafés are lined up along these streets. All the area are guarded by the army and armed soldiers and the security seems alert.
the skyline in Sin-al-Fil
Daytime, not many people fill the streets. I walk back to my hostel after bying some fruits, nuts and some bread. Good to rest the legs for a couple of hours and to check some e-mail etc. By the way, oranges in this country are very juicy and sweet. In my homeland in Sweden you can squeeze three oranges to get the same amount of juice as you get from one single orange in Lebanon. Wow.

In Gemmayzeh, the area around my hostel, is an atmosphere with many small bars and restaurants, often with music in the evenings. There are a genuine touch and it is very amusing to stroll around on the main street. There is also my favourite restaurant , Le Chef, with its low prices and charismatic waiter. Some very nice small fruit and vegetable shops offers all sorts of good green stuff. Some broad stairs take you up to another part of Beirut, Achrafiye, an attractive district in East Beirut with its big villas and nice buildings. In this district, Rue Monot, take the scene as the very centre for the nightlife in the city with lots of clubs and bars. ......to be continued

 

 

  

ken2010 says:
Oh yes. Isn't experiences like that what makes travelling so much entertaining! ;)
Posted on: Jun 04, 2010
vances says:
A challenging beginning...but you dove right in!

:^)
Posted on: Jun 04, 2010
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the stairs connecting Gemmayzeh wi…
the stairs connecting Gemmayzeh w…
Achrafiye
Achrafiye
Achrafiye
Achrafiye
Hotel Habtour in the district Sin-…
Hotel Habtour in the district Sin…
Hotel Habtour
Hotel Habtour
the skyline in Sin-al-Fil
the skyline in Sin-al-Fil
outskirts of Sin-al-Fil
outskirts of Sin-al-Fil
Sin-al-Fil
Sin-al-Fil
The Habtour Mall, Sin-al-Fil
The Habtour Mall, Sin-al-Fil
The Habtour Mall, Sin-al-Fil
The Habtour Mall, Sin-al-Fil
Hamra street, Hamra
Hamra street, Hamra
Hamra street, Hamra
Hamra street, Hamra
AUB, American University of Beirut
AUB, American University of Beirut
AUB, the main-entrance
AUB, the main-entrance
AUB
AUB
memories from the past
memories from the past
the ruins of old Holiday Inn hotel
the ruins of old Holiday Inn hotel
the past and the present
the past and the present
St Georges yacht club
St Georges yacht club
a Palestinian refugee-camp in th…
a Palestinian 'refugee-camp' in t…
the wall to the refugee-camp
the wall to the 'refugee-camp'
close to the Cornishe, the pathwal…
close to the Cornishe, the pathwa…
the Cornishe
the Cornishe
the Pigeon Rocks
the Pigeon Rocks
the Pigeon Rocks
the Pigeon Rocks
the Pigeon Rocks
the Pigeon Rocks
the Pigeon Rocks
the Pigeon Rocks
the beach in the city
the beach in the city
yes, finally I took a swim
yes, finally I took a swim
Interior of Mohammed-al-Amin mosque
Interior of Mohammed-al-Amin mosque
Interior of Mohammed-al-Amin mosque
Interior of Mohammed-al-Amin mosque
Memorial of the assasinated former…
Memorial of the assasinated forme…
Memorial of the party murdered tog…
Memorial of the party murdered to…
Residence of the Prime minister
Residence of the Prime minister
outside Beirut National museum
outside Beirut National museum
Rue Damas, former Green Line
Rue Damas, former Green Line
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
National Museum
Beirut Hostels review
Hostel with friendly atmosphere
A general advice if you book a room in Beirut is that you need to confirm your booking twice. It is not satisfying just to book and get it confirmed b… read entire review
Beirut Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
genuine and tasty
The restaurant Le Chef in the heart of Gemmayzeh district in Beirut is a must if you visit this city. It has a genuine look of the past and it is alw… read entire review
Beirut Sights & Attractions review
a must see in Beirut
Entering the National Museum of Beirut is a walk in the history of Lebanon from prehistorical time to the Mamlouk period. Several pieces of statuette… read entire review
Beirut
photo by: vulindlela