Beirut after the storm

Who I am
Joel Fulleda

Author and references

An "unusual" trip, simply underestimated. Lebanon? for us an uncomfortable image that we often mistakenly associate with the sad events linked to wars and terrorism.
Ed? cos? that, superficial, we don't really ask ourselves what one of the most beautiful lands has to offer. ancient of the world. We remain immune to so much beauty, generated in the land of contamination, in which the dream of integration? born before Europe and the United States. Lebanon was and remains a great lesson.
For the first time it would be nice to learn certain values ​​from the East to rediscover in the West.
It is in this spirit, therefore, that I tell you about my Lebanon.

1 day

From Turkey Lebanon is less than 2h. It is thus, therefore, that we decide to take advantage of our last 3 days in the Middle East to discover the little big Lebanon.
15.00. We have landed. As soon as we get off the plane, a Middle Eastern heat takes us by the throat:? asphyxiating. That August day, temperatures exceeded 42 degrees dry. An experience that I immediately associated with that in Egypt, so to speak. Leaving the airport we notice a chaos, one of those we Italians in big cities are used to? (Rome, Naples, Milan) at 8 in the morning.
Have you ever heard of Beirut traffic? Well, here you will hear the horns ringing 24/24. The first image of Beirut? confused, with unclear colors. Between those noises and the crowd we still couldn't distinguish the typical features we would later fall in love with.
Beirut airport is not far from the city: in just 20 minutes we arrive in the center, we set up our bags and rest for a while.
Let's wait until it gets dark and the temperatures drop a little to discover Beirut at night.
the center of Beirut immediately proved to be very dispersed and with a thousand contrasts: Saray coincides with the Old Town, Hamra? the neighborhood pi? "cool" and frequented by young people especially on Fridays? and Saturday night (or rather, night), the promenade called "Corniche"? characterized by the numerous luxurious hotels and skyscrapers that seem to clash with Old Beirut. So we decide to visit Hamra: On the street is not there? one place, the cars seem crazy, stuck in a traffic that doesn't want to get rid of. The rooms with large bright and often flashing signs stand side by side, creating a single landscape. Youth from Beirut? cheerful, uninhibited, between alcohol and kebab at 2 am, she moves in the most? famous as the Mojo Club where remixes of international hits are danced all night long. There? show, lights, screams, life and diversity? but also limousines and the glitz of the Lounge bars (overlooking Beirut) more? expensive. We see a Las Vegas of the Middle East.
We make the first fleeting friendships, curiosity? ? so much and the availability? of the Lebanese seems to be the most? strong of this people.

2 day

The second day we get up in the late morning. We cross the elegant Rue Maarad, a symbol of French influence and elegance. Here are not only the administrative buildings and the most important offices. important of the city, but also bars and pastry shops where? You can have breakfast from crepe to honeyy Baklava.
Meanwhile, Saudis in traditional costumes, men in suits, soldiers parade along the large boulevard with Arabian charm. The heat is getting more and more? torrid and we decide to go to sea but we forget a detail:? one and a half Sunday in August Beirut pours into the small and very private city beaches. We change our mind and head straight to Byblos with a bus that struggles to cope with Sunday traffic.
That's right, Byblos, the ancient city? quoted from the Bible. I must admit that its 5000 years brings them really well await Wide beaches of golden coast that embrace beach bars, modern urban complexes and the temples of the ancient city? Phoenician. After a few dives we eat in one of the many typical restaurants: from there? c '? a scenario that reminds me so much of Greece, the true essence of the Mediterranean, when fishermen set their nets on the sand at dusk. Here we eat the delicious Mezze, or "tapas" served on colorful terracotta saucers. After olives, sauces, mixed vegetables and Fatayer (dumplings of spinach and vegetables) we order a Shish Kebab, consisting of a huge plate with a large skewer of meat and vegetables.
In Byblos? absolutely not to be missed is a walk at sunset along the harbor and the ancient streets of the center.
Everywhere we find flyers about a summer festival. The city? ? in great ferment since, only more? later it would host an international artist. After understanding the caliber of this event without batting an eye, we too decide to participate in the outdoor event, after obviously paying the ticket. Biblo at night? enchanting: the valley with its temples and pale orange lights greet us from afar while the music starts and the young people scream at the myth.
We also know a group of nice French tourists with whom we return to Beirut to be able to rest in our hotels.

3 day

The next day we wake up early in the morning, sneakers on, breakfast with crepes and .. go!
The new stage? Balbeek about 1 hour from Beirut. We recommend that anyone planning to set out to discover Lebanon to do so with organized tours. Indeed, with the unreliable public transport not? easy (as in our case). The great "Petra" colored temples tower and cast a shadow over us. It's Monday, there are few tourists and the atmosphere seems created especially for us.
We pass in front of the Roman temples pi? largest and best preserved in the world: that of Bacchus, with elegant Corinthian capitals, appears to be the most? miraculous from the ravages of time. It is an unparalleled experience to step into it and feel tiny. Inside c '? still the staircase leading to the altar dominated by precious marble friezes. From the temple of Bacchus, taking the ancient road paved by the Romans, we reach the temple of Jupiter-Baal. It is perhaps less well known than that of Bacchus but? its courtyard with its large propylaea, statues of lions and exedras that are very reminiscent of those of Petra is extraordinary.
The last stop? Tripoli about 1 hour. This city? it looks a lot like mine, Naples. The neighboring houses, narrow, the narrower alleys dark, the pastel yellow colors of the buildings and the sea view could not distract my attention. On a hill? Is it possible to visit the citadel of Raimondo saint Gilles, a labyrinthine fortress of the Crusader era while in the city? ? a visit to the Suq is inevitable. Here you get lost among carpets, handicrafts and good street food!
After we return to Beirut, a little more? will you wait for us later? in fact our direct flight to Istanbul.

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