Schlagwort-Archive: beirut

Lebanon – Summary & Pictures

People: I really like the Lebanese! Open and friendly, without being too pushy like the Jordanians sometimes were. I could browse around a souvenir shop without being bothered. At the same time, our car rental guy just rolled his eyes briefly at us when we arrived 1.5 h late and then asked us how the day went. I liked the mix of people you get to see: next to me in the table in a cafe there were 2 women and 2 guys. One of the women wearing a hijab, one wearing tight pants and a rather revealing shirt. She and the guys were having beers and all four of them were smoking shisha together. I felt welcome and safe at all times! There are barely any backpackers, but I always met some cool people to hang out with.

Food: Lebanon brought a little more variety to the Middle Eastern food again. There was still too much hummus, but there was also fattoush (a salad) and Manoosh (a kind of pizza) that I had not had before in Israel or Jordan.

Weather: There were some more clouds here and there, but mostly in a rather photogenic way so I did not mind 🙂 It was also a bit cooler than Jordan, but in a nice way.

Costs: I spent a bit more in Lebanon than I had to, since I treated myself to some beers and shisha and also didn’t take advantage of Couchsurfing, but rather stayed in a hostel the whole time. Also the rental car was expensive to rent just for one day. So in the end I spent 49€/day which was still below my 60€/day target.

Accommodation: I spent my whole time staying at Saifi Urban Gardens hostel in Beirut, which I really really liked. Potentially one of the best hostels I have ever stayed at. I met great people there to hang out with, and the attached cafe serves good, cheap food. There’s one more hostel in Beirut, but that’s it for hostel accommodation in Lebanon unfortunately. Luckily, the country is close enough so that you can stay in Beirut and go on day trips from here, but it would have been nice to stay in different places, like Byblos, Tripoli or Tannourine. Maybe this will change in the future though and there will be more hostels popping up!

Infrastructure: There is a good bus system which does go to many places, but not all of the interesting spots. To see Tannourine and the Baatara waterfall, we had to rent a car for example. However, if you stick to the coastal towns, there is good and cheap busses all the way North/South, and also Baalbek is well connected to Beirut.

Illnesses: Healthy & happy.

Safety: Never felt unsafe.

Itinerary: I stayed in Beirut and did day trips from there. I would have loved to see many more places, especially Baalbek, and spend more time in the mountains around Tannourine and in Tripoli. 4 days were simply not enough for this amazing country! I would recommend 10 days and a rental car to fully enjoy Lebanon’s sights and landscapes.

Highlight: The road trip to Tripoli and Baatara waterfall.

Lowlight: Beirut.

Click here to see all my pictures of Lebanon:

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Beirut – Paris of the Middle East!?

I spent two half-days exploring Beirut, whereas one day probably would have been enough. Beirut is known as the „Paris of the Middle East“, but to be honest – I have no clue why. It certainly does not compare to Paris, not even close. Most buildings are ugly, and apart from some bar areas, there’s also no cozy Paris-style cafe-vibe around. Don’t get me wrong – Beirut is still a cool place to explore, but I completely disagree with the „Paris of the Middle East“ thing.

My hostel Saifi Urban Gardens (very much recommended) was located in the cool Gemmayzeh area, so this is where I started my walk from. I walked towards the West of the city, passing through downtown Beirut first. This is the old part of the city, which has mostly been renovated and contains some nice buildings such as the big mosque. However, streets feel strangely deserted everywhere – there is no „life“ in this district, just old buildings and fancy shops.

I then passed by the former Holiday Inn which stands covered in bullet holes as a reminder of the violent past not too long ago. There are plans to do something with the hotel, but nothing seems to be working out in terms of agreement yet. From the hotel, I continued to Zaitunay Bay – a small harbour filled with fancy boats. Then I started my looong walk along the Corniche all the way to Pigeon Rocks (uhmm… maybe don’t copy me). It was long and hot. But of course, it was good to see the Corniche, feel the sea breeze in my face and finally arrive at Pigeon Rocks – two rather photogenic rocks in the ocean in the West of Beirut.

On the way back to the hostel, I opted for a bus instead of my feet (which were getting tired), and also to be quicker since I had agreed to hang out with another girl from my hostel in the afternoon. Nanna had the idea of visiting a Palestinian refugee camp – but more about that in my next post… Let me just point out that Beirut is not a very walk-able city. Distances are rather far and sometimes there’s road blocks set up by police and areas you cannot enter, making you do an even farther detour. Shared taxis drive around the city and are a good option if there are no traffic jams. The flat rate is 2,000 LBP anywhere in the center, but if you want to go a bit farther or to out-of-the-ordinary destinations, expect to pay a bit more.

Next day, I had wanted to rent a car with two other backpackers, but we wasted a lot of time in the morning and frankly it did not work out. So I chilled in the hostel for a bit and then went off to see some more of the Western part of Beirut together with them, for example the American University campus (AUB) and the streets in the Hamra district. While these places were nice to see, it did feel a bit like a wasted day to me – but that’s just how it goes when travelling: things don’t always go as planned.

Lunch & Shisha in Shatila

At my hostel in Beirut, I met Nanna from Denmark – an adventurous girl who had the idea of visiting a Palestine refugee camp in Beirut, called Shatila. Shatila is not really a camp as in tents, but more a permanent settlement within Beirut where refugees from Palestine (some already there since 2 or 3 generations) have basically set up everything as nicely as possible for their new life here. There’s shops, restaurants, barbers, everything. But there’s also lots of poverty of course. This is a much poorer area than the Beirut I had seen earlier, so I left my DSLR in my backpack and only took some quick shots from my phone, out of respect.

At first we felt a bit odd, walking through Shatila as tourists, two blond girls clearly standing out from the local crowd. But the Palestinians soon made us feel very welcome. We were greeted with smiles everywhere and people wanted to know where we’re from. Luckily for me, Nanna speaks Arabic very well, so she acted as an interpreter for me. Some of the closer encounters certainly wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t been there with her Arabic skills. Like this, we got invited for coffee and shisha and the owners of the little cafe refused to take any money from us. We also had some delicious Lebanese pizza, called Manoosh.

 

I really enjoyed my time in Shatila, especially meeting all the friendly Palestinians. It felt a bit like being back in Nablus, Palestine, unfortunately without the knafeh. I am well aware that daily life is difficult for the people living in Shatila, but at least we were able to get some lunch and drinks there and therefore support the local economy a little. For the really adventurous there’s a hostel where you can stay at in Shatila!