B is for Beirut.

The Arab playground, Paris of the Middle East,  but a name synonymous with war and death.

Walking through my local DIY store I received a call from a number I didn’t know. It was the offer of a job in Beirut. My mind was immediately focused on the images I remembered from the telly, street to street fighting, a city in ruins and the very recent assassination of Rafic Hariri, the former Prime Minister.

I took the job and a few days later found myself arriving at Rafic Hariri international airport. A disorderly queue for a visa negotiated I wandered out into the warm November sunshine.

Whilst the first views were of disorder and untidiness, there was no sign of the ravages wreaked by many years of fighting, so I hopped into a taxi and gave him the address of my hotel in Achrafieh. Ah, this is more what I expected to see:

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but in the city centre itself this is the only real in your face reminder of the recent brutal past.

During my year in Lebanon I saw the whole country (its not very big) and fell in love with it, but Beirut is an exceptional place. The city centre, completely rebuilt after the long civil war, is akin to Milan or Paris, but warmer.

images

The nightlife is incredible, the food fantastic and random bits of archeological history keep popping up as you discover more of the area.

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Skiing in the morning and swimming in the afternoon is possible here, I know as I’ve done it, from a frisky snow covered mountain to a warm sandy beach, where giant turtles aren’t uncommon, in around 90 minutes.

Evening strolls along the Corniche were times that I still remember fondly, ice cream in hand looking discretely at the most beautiful women ever put on this earth, Lebanese women truly are stunning and they helped make my year away from home pass a lot quicker than it perhaps could have.

From seeing the Cedars to taking tea with Walid Jumblatt, my year in Lebanon and specifically Beirut enriched me more than I could ever have imagined it would.

More from the letter B at:  http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

 

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About bobleponge216

Elderly rotund toothless male seeks wilderness to travel to.
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4 Responses to B is for Beirut.

  1. My memories of Beirut (December, 1981) include driving around a corner, only to see the business end of a Syrian tank (yes, they were the peacekeepers) pointing at us; Syrian army checkpoints all over the place, and the sound of the Iraqi embassy being bombed only a couple of hundred metres away from where I was working. Yet, through the shelling, the hostility, the danger, it was apparent how beautiful it was. And how could we forget Byblos, Sidon and Beit ed-Dine?

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I arrived, all of that had finished and the entire city centre had been reconstructed, financed almost entirely from Hariri’s personal pocket. However, about four months before the end of my time there, the Israeli’s decided things weren’t to stay that way, and bombed the living daylights out of the place for about a week. Once again, this tiny, beautiful country was being thrown back into the dark ages for reasons that are outwith its own control. When it all kicked off, I drove down to the Israeli border for a couple of days, and had a very similar experience, only this time it was an Israeli tank.
      Its one of the very few places in the world that I’ve visited that I’ll happily pay money to go back to.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That was amazing, and disquieting at the same time. We see so much of the damage done that it’s hard to imagine it otherwise. Thank you for sharing this bit of your travels.

    I hope you are enjoying the A to Z Challenge. I’ll be back, to see where next you take us.

    Jenny, Pearson Report
    2015 A to Z Challenge Ambassador
    @PearsonReport

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks for the kind words, I don’t work for the Beiruti travel office, but perhaps I should, i love the place.
      Enjoying it thus far, sure I’ll continue to enjoy it to the end.

      Like

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