As you saw in my previous video, I spent the first day of my visit to Lebanon in the seaside town of Byblos and along the Mediterranean coast. A local bus took me back to Beirut after dark and now I had another 48 hours of this weekend trip to explore the capital of Lebanon.
I started the day with a walk along the Corniche, which is popular with runners, bikers, families and fishermen.
It stretches 5 kilometers from the Beirut marina all the way to Pigeon Rocks, a monumental natural arch which is often considered THE landmark of Beirut and a must-see when in town.
This is one of the few places in town that is less hectic and loud. When you are at the outlook in front of the rocks, you can walk down to the shore and explore the area from multiple angles.
Just a few blocks east, there’s Hamra, a chaotic, congested and noisy neighborhood which is not just packed with cars honking day and night, but also lots of cafés and restaurants as well as shops selling pretty much anything.
I had very tasty lunch here in one of the restaurants. Lebanese food was actually one of the reasons I came here and I was never disappointed.
After lunch, I continued east along Hamra street and eventually reached Downtown Beirut, the central district with its posh high-end designer stores, over-priced outdoor cafés and restored buildings which were originally built during the French mandate in the early 20th century. The central square of this area is called Place de l’Etoile and features a 1930s clock tower and French-style Art Deco architecture.
This area feels entirely different than Hamra: there are traffic lights and you can cross the street without running the risk being run over by a car, there are no potholes, it is very clean,
but it somehow seemed to lack authenticity.
Some of the most significant places of worship in town are located here: Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral and Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque. In between, there is a huge archeological site.
As I happened to be in town just after Christmas, I still got to see the nativity scene on Martyrs’ Square and something I had never imagined seeing here: A huge Christmas tree just next to the major mosque.
Beirut is home to so many different religious denominations and this becomes obvious when the Muslim call to prayer coincides with the bells of the adjacent church.
East of the downtown district is Gemmayzeh, one of Beirut’s trendiest neighborhoods. There are not just great bars and restaurants here, but also local fashion and designer stores as well as galleries. Some businesses here are so hipster that it hurts!
This neighborhood was really nice to hang out in. Definitely come here after dark, if you enjoy clubs and bars. Somehow, I realized that I don’t have any good footage of the nightlife, but it is really something to experience for yourself.
Each neighborhood is unique and there is so much to see and do. Take your time and explore different parts of town, if you have the time.
As this intense weekend came to an end, I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the amazing things I’ve seen and done in and around Beirut. I left with an overly positive impression of a country that is often portrayed very negatively by the mainstream media. The friendly and welcoming locals certainly deserve better. This was not my last visit to Lebanon and I can’t wait to come back someday.
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Part 1 (Byblos, Harissa):
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* Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
* Small tripod
Graz and beyond – Blog:
Kenno – What You Want
Joakim Karud – Good Old Days
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