Beirut is an amazing city but after a few days there I kept wondering about certain things like how the civil war affected the city, why there were parts you couldn't go through and why some buildings were still in a state of ruin. All those questions and more were answered when on the penultimate day of our stay we did the Walk Beirut tour. I only wish we had done it on our first day instead.
Harissa is an important religious and touristic site, located on a mountain, high above a coastal town known as Jounieh. You can go to Harissa via cable cars otherwise known as the Teleferique, from Jounieh. It's a beautiful site, which overlooks Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea.
The main holy site consists of a large statue, which is painted in white, of the Virgin Mary, also known as Our Lady of Lebanon. One can climb the stairs and go right to the top of the statue, and is an area of complete serenity and calmness. It is a place where people can pray in peace, and also enjoy the view of from the very top (Harissa is located about 650 meters from sea level)
I recommend this place because it's such a beautiful and relaxing place to visit every year. Tourists from all walks of life visit Harissa, to be blessed by Virgin Mary. It is definitely a place to visit and enjoy in the Lebanon.
If you look beyond the much celebrated souks of Damascus and Marrakesh, a brilliantly understated example are the souks of Tripoli. There is something about this place off the beaten track, that really preserve an air of adventure. Teaming with narrow alleyways, pungent aromas, vibrant fabrics and steamy hammams, it is an unforgettable experience. If you fancy a snack, the town is famed for its speciality sweet, 'haliwat al-jibn', which can be found in numerous outlets. However, my favourite feature was to be found within the Souk al-Sayyaghin. In the 18th Century, Tripoli was famed for its soap, and a small factory can be visited. The humble workers show you around the small surroundings, while explaining the process, before offering a plethora of soaps of all shapes, scents and sizes. Available for very reasonable prices.
Soap shop: Bader Hassoun
Phone: 03-438 369
Found just off Al-Kind Arjieh St.
Google map: tinyurl.com/34xblno
Food is the best way for one to delve into the soul of a culture and learn more about its people, their customs & traditions. Sitting down and breaking bread with a total stranger from a different culture is a beautifully unifying and enriching experience.
If you’ve always wanted to learn more about Lebanese food and experience first hand what it really is like to enjoy an authentic, lavish Mediterranean spread then this seven-day culinary journey across Lebanon will leave you with a well-rounded taste of Lebanon and each of its region’s specialties. You will visit six different regions, savoring each region’s specialty and learning the process and technique that goes into making that certain dish that each region is renown for.
The culinary journey across Lebanon will visit Beirut, Byblos, Batroun, Tripoli, the North, Mount Lebanon, Baalbeck, and the Beqaa. The tour is led by Bethany Kehdy, a Lebanese national and seasoned food blogger. She has prepared a fascinating list of fabulous activities including many food demonstrations, harvest-your-own expeditions, visits to ancient towns and bustling markets, wine tasting at vineyards and even a fishing trip. And of course there will be lots of relaxing by the pool, lavish lunches, and exotic dinners.
The first edition of Taste Lebanon will run from 23 September to 1 October and spaces are limited to only 11 participants.
For more information visit www.dirtykitchensecrets.com/taste-lebanon-a-culinary-journey-across-lebanon/
Beirut and Lebanon as a whole is a fantastic destination, and I simply can't recommend the place enough! Beirut itself is like a phoenix trying to recover and find itself again, and thankfully succeeding.
There is a relaxed and cosmopolitan atmosphere wherever you travel in the city. The downtown area has had some serious re-development and looks a bit too new and clean, but where else will you be able to find old churches, a mosque that's only six months old, fancy bars and shops that wouldn't look out of place in Bond Street, all side by side? Although, take a closer look down the road and you will still see bullet holes and the scars of being attacked, (which is precisely why the re-development has been able to occur).
The best way to get around is in a shared taxi, which will cost about £1 to go around the city or £5 to travel to must other places in Lebanon. Do not, however, catch a taxi from the airport as these are ridiculously expensive; start to walk out of the airport and you will get stopped by a taxi where you will get one for a much better price. Travelling elsewhere though is extremely easy as Lebanon is so small everywhere is a short day trip away. I only had time to visit Balbeek, and to have entire ancient city practically to yourself is well worth the trip. Driving there is certainly an experience, as road rules simply don't exist, but that just adds to the charm.
Lebanon is also incredibly cheap and the people the most genuinely welcoming and happy to see you that I have ever come across in my travels. It's also very safe, so whatever you hear about Lebanon in the news, don't let that cloud your judgement. The place certainly deserves more people visiting it (although I quite like being pretty much the only tourist).
Despite the recent troubles the country has been facing, and the political instability which adds to the uncertainties about the future, Lebanon is a country with a lot to offer. Historically the country, due to its unique geographical position, and the many cultural influences left by the various conquerors throughout its history, has always been a melting pot of different ideas - be it religious, cultural and even culinary.
On my last visit to Lebanon I did experience some of these differences positively I might add, most notably through excellent places that offer everything your heart and wallet might fancy. I was largely pleased with many of these, but most impressed by Tribeca, a New York style restaurant.
The first thing that you notice about Tribeca is the atmosphere. It is a cozy little place that the moment you step in, you feel a welcoming and warm ambience. The walls are decorated by works of art by aspiring new artists, that I am told are for sale.
The food in Tribeca is mainly bagels & Ciabatta sandwiches and salads, with a choice of excellent desserts. But what is most impressive and something you rarely find in restaurants the world over, is how healthy and tasty it is.
The mood of the place is laid back, friendly, and has an intellectual air to it without being overbearing or stuffy.
Abdul Wahah El Inglizi St. and Mono St. 01 339123
The museum is tucked away in the Monastery of Mar Sarkis on the rock mountain and the view from the museum is absolutely breathtaking. You can enter the museum after buying a ticket for 2 YTL and you are given a guidebook to help you understand the history. The Venetian plastered walls and rock structure of the museum are all that frame the life and work of this extraordinary human being. We walked through the rooms, all with motion sensors for light and a CCTV monitoring our every move. I was amazed to see the paintings and discover Gibran - the artist. The museum is on several levels, the lowest being a bedroom that is also where he is buried inside the rock. It was a bit eerie, so I didn’t stay in that room long.
Tel: 00 961 6 671 137
There is a lovely church in Bsharre, St Saba church, which has the beautiful backdrop of the Qadisha valley to frame it and is located at the edge of the gorge. The three churches in this town were built by important families from Bsharre, but the St Saba is the most spectacular.
On our way back from the Cedars in north Lebanon, near the Qadisha valley, we found the lovely town of Bsharre. Even if I did not know the significance of this small town, I would fall in love with it. But for me, it holds a deeper meaning. A walk down memory lane. A long walk. Taking me to my school days and words that etched their meaning over time.
The lines from Gibran’s book ‘The Prophet’ paved the streets of Bsharre as the car wound through its narrow streets, heightening my anticipation. Bsharre is Khalil Gibran’s birthplace - and where his soul rests even today. The town itself was known as Beit Chari in Phoenician times and later as Buissera. The town has become famous primarily because of the Gibran association. His home is now a museum tucked away in the mountain, overlooking a beautiful valley. It would inspire anyone to become a poet, and this town produced one of the greatest poets the world has ever known. His works have been translated into over two dozen languages—but the poet and philosopher was also an accomplished artist.
They say Tripoli is the sweet capital of Lebanon, if not the Middle East. This well-known store is certainly the place to look out for. An incredible variety of sweets, ice creams and all sorts of exotic treats. Try their speciality baklava made with pistachios, walnuts and pine nuts – sweet, syrupy and deliciously sickly.
Without doubt THE hub of Beirut’s nightlife. This part of town is absolutely jumping all week. You’re spoilt for choice with the number of bars and clubs vying for your custom on this famous stretch. The locals really dress up when they go out, especially Lebanese women who look intimidatingly beautiful so make sure you look the part. Many of the bars on Rue Monot are seriously glam but worth making the effort for. To say the Lebanese like to party would be an understatement…
Rue Monot, downtown Beirut
Beirut’s most cutting edge neighbourhood. Awash with artists, writers, musicians, film-makers and the like. Think Hoxton if you will. Rue Gourard is the main throughfare and is packed with eclectic bars, cafes, galleries, international restaurants and jazz venues. The nightlife is usually more low key than the Rue Monot but on a weekend this area can get just as busy. During the day it’s a lovely place to take a stroll and people watch.
Rue Gourard is the main artery of Gemayzeh
Very famous nightclub that wouldn't be out of place in New York or Ibiza.
This underground bunker of a club, with a mean sound system, is located on the industrial outskirts of the city.
Formerly the site of a refugee camp stormed by militia during the civil war. Local taxi drivers know where it is and are probably your best bet for getting there since it is a trek from downtown Beirut.
It is however, absolutely awesome. Get there early and it has a hip, lounge bar feel to it, with eerie iconic images of dead musicians and coffin-like folding banquette's that more-than-conveniently double as podiums later on when things really kick off!
Architecturally and design wise, this place is really remarkable. The big crowds start arriving post-midnight due to the hedonistic club's reputation as the after-hours venue of choice. When the sun comes up, the roof retracts, flooding daylight into the open arms and bleary eyes of the most hardened house and techno enthusiasts as the fierce beats keep their feet stomping.
Lot# 317, la Quarantine, Medawar, Beyrouth
Head out of the city and its just off the Dora highway near the Forum de Beyrouth...
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