بيروت‎

by - October 30, 2020



Beirut is a city that’s very much wounded but oozes of optimism and is high in spirit. There was nothing I didn’t love about this city, even it’s devastating side had a sense of strength and resilience to display. As a tourist, I can only imagine what the pros and cons are, but not fully comprehend or experience them. Just like any other city I visit for a short period of time.  



I enjoy travel reviews and guides that give incredible tips on where to go and what to do. But I get disappointed that the ‘unpleasant’ sights or stories are not shared or pretended not to exist. In all fairness, it can be tricky to unveil depths of a place or put a magnifying glass to its flaws. As a tourist arriving in a place thinking it’s all dandy and then having to face the harsh reality of a city is heart-breaking. The number of homeless people in Athens, the beggars in Istanbul, the broken homes in Algiers, the racism in Zurich, the islamophobia in Paris, the xenophobia in Ljubljana, the rudeness in Beijing and so many more. All these come to a shock once I arrive to a city, because travel reviews are practically pictures often painted by white or Western tourists (yes you can be none white and Western!).  



In all fairness, usually travel guides are designed for tourists who can afford to visit certain locations and jet-set around the world. The common guides coming from publications such as Monocle, Wallpaper, Lonelyplanet, Suitcase and even from popular travel bloggers are unattainable for individuals on low- or average-income salary. They promote places that are clean, trendy and even luxurious, taking tourists away from a multicultural experience in a city; meaning the poor and the rich, the reality and the dream. My reviews are my personal experiences and observation from a place, it’s not a full reflection of the city’s habitants and reality. They’re neither right nor wrong, they are my reflection. 



To be frank, I’ve overbooked my stay in Beirut, three to four days would have been enough for me, as I go through a lot of locations on a day. Five days felt stretched, as I’ve managed to see Beirut’s main sights and residential areas in three days. I’ve spent the last two days hanging out a resort and the beach. Relaxing, but I am not one for beach holidays. Don’t like them and prefer city trips. Anyhow, it also didn’t help that it was during Ramadan as half of the city was fasting, while the other half was observing Ramadan business hours out of respect. Most restaurants wouldn’t open until late afternoon, and if they were open for brunch & lunch, they were empty. But we still made the most of it, visited sights, museums and places that were fascinating. 



I love Lebanese food, it has the perfect combination of carbs, protein and nutritional vegetables. It’s light and flavoursome, my favourite cuisine along Turkish, Asian (grouping Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean and Vietnamese etc) and Mediterranean cuisine. I’m not sure if Lebansese dishes are always prepared freshly, but they surely tasted fresh. I love lahmacun and found a bakery that prepared them fresh (see the picture and IG for reference). Their cuisine is similar to neighbouring countries with own distinct Lebanese way.   



I particularly liked the people, they were friendly, welcoming and relaxed. Because Beirut has a mixed population that practices Islam and Christianity, the usual ‘Arab’ judgement of people eating during daytime in Ramadan didn’t exist. Drinking alcohol isn’t prohibited, modest wear isn’t the only option for women, Muslims and Christians coexist. The Cathedral is right next to the largest masjid, a reflection of a society that celebrates its habitants’ religious practice. However, this is simply my outlook, reality could be very much different, I don’t know. 



There was something different about this trip: it wasn't my usual travelling around the world, but it was to celebrate my first anniversary with Cesar. We both decided on Beirut, as neither of us have been before and we both are intrigued by the city. It didn't disappoint, and the 14th of May was definitely memorable. Go big or go home (no, we didn't celebrate big, we just made sure it was memorable).

Beirut is a beautiful city that has a lot to offer, from history, culture to food and contemporary scenes. It is a creative hub, the birth of haute couture maison Elie Saab, the home to Fairuz and many musicians. The Paris of the Middle East (their claim, not mine) and the city that has been wounded so many times but always finds a way to get back up stronger.


It's one thing being affected by a global pandemic but its another thing facing a tragedy of mass explosion. I am devastated for the people of Beirut and hope they will recover from this, through aid, fundraisers and global assistance. 2020 is have been a rough year, but I remain optimistic for everyone and everything. I'm not going to write about the devastating event that has taken place in Beirut, as you can find numerous news and media outlets reporting on it, but I hope we all do our part to support. 

Here are some you can support:


The rest of this post are a series of photos from our holiday in May 2019 in Beirut/Lebanon. 










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