Monthly Archives: September 2011

Thefts, thefts and more thefts

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In the past two weeks, over 3 thefts were reported in Elissar, Mount Lebanon. A polyclinic, a storage room for servers and IT equipments, and a cellular place were all cleaned out.

One of my friends told me he saw a footage from a security camera showing the four thieves all wearing masks and holding M16 machine guns.

The funny part is that they are targeting commercial centers which should be guarded by a security personnel, yet they are carrying loads of machines and equipments and still getting away with it.

Nevertheless, the security situation in Lebanon is still impeccable and excellent, as confirmed by our minister of interior few weeks back.

Visiting Chateau Kefraya

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After visiting Ksara over a year ago, I planned a trip to Chateau Kefraya on Sunday to see if it is really as good as I heard.

I called a day before to see if I need to book or anything and I was told there’s no need to book in advance for the tour or the wine tasting, but I have to reserve a table if I want to have lunch there. Turns out they have an open buffet (Oriental food) with open wine and Arak for 45$.

The road to Chateau Kefraya is the same one you take to get to Ksara but once you reach Chtaura, you need to go deep into the Bekaa valley to reach the Chateau, which takes around 20 minutes. There are informative maps on Chateau Kefraya’s website showing you how to get there.

The road from Chtaura to the Chateau is in good shape and there are some nice landscapes to look at, specially while passing by the Ammeek village.

Once we reached Chateau Kefraya, we were given directions on where to park by security guards. We stepped down waiting for some guide to show us the way but we ended up asking the security guy. The place was much bigger than Ksara from the inside and was like a tiny village with many streets and small gardens (all with different names).

We headed to the spot indicated by the security officer and had to wait for a few minutes before some guy showed up and told us to follow him to see the caves. We had to go through the wine industry in order to reach the caves and the smells were horrible. Before going into the caves, we were shown a documentary for like 5 minutes, but it was more of an interview with the Chateau Kefraya CEO/Founder Michel De Bustros than an informative video on wine making and the Chateau’s history.

Before reaching the caves, I was expecting something similar to Ksara’s 1000+ years old caves but instead I got a boring modern room with lined up wine barrels. The guide was not saying a word and roaming around waiting for us to finish.

Disappointment continued when we went on the train ride, or what they call train and was really a tractor pulling us. No one explained to us the difference between the three rides offered and we ended up going on a lame 40 minutes trip, half of it wasted while driving to get to small vineyards. Of course there were no guides to explain anything, but instead a group of visitors laughing out loud and singing behind us.

Once we go back, there was also no one to show us where the wine tasting happens. After asking, we headed into the showroom but there was no one at the bar to serve us!

We waited a few minutes before the cashier lady served us some wine from various bottles and briefly explained the difference between them.

After that, I checked out the buffet to see if it’s worth paying 45$ and it wasn’t that bad, considering that wine and Arak are open.

All in all, I was surprised of the level of unprofessionalism at Chateau Kefraya and I would not recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about wine making and tasting. Ksara is far better in that aspect as they have professionally trained employees guiding you throughout the whole tour.

Nevertheless, it’s a great place to have lunch on a Sunday with family or friends from abroad, specially that there’s open wine and Arak.

PS: I have no clue why it’s called a Chateau as it looks more like a small villa.

Nour Merheb commits suicide

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Quite shocking to hear such news specially that Nour was very active and fighting for quite some time the unjust accusations by the Military Court against him. You can read more about this case [Here].

Nour Merheb is a Lebanese Human Rights and Strategic Nonviolent activist.

Nour left a message on his Facebook around 3:30 am showing he intended to take his own life and apparently left a video explaining why he wants to end his life. [DailyStar]

Honestly, I find suicide as the easy way out of life’s problems and can never understand it.

May he rest in peace and may God bless his soul.

Insufficient funds

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My friend got this message after he was filling up his car with gas at a Total station near City Mall. He had to pay 105,000LL but instead got charged 226,125,000 Lebanese Liras, which is equivalent to almost 150,000$.

I would understand a gas station worker charging in the wrong currency but he got both the amount and currency wrong.

Shtrumpf 19th Beer Festival

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I went yesterday to Shtrumpf’s 19th Beer Festival and it was more fun than I had anticipated. Last time I went there was back in 2006 or 2007 when Shtrumpf was still called Schtroumpf.

I was expecting traffic once I got there, but it was well organized and we were able to park our cars instead of giving it to the valet, which is rare these days.

Unlike the previous years, we had to buy tickets at the entrance and wear a yellow bracelet before going in. Tickets were priced at 22$ per person including open beer and peanuts.

The festival was held outside around the pool as usual, with few corner lounges added to the setting.

Once seated, we got a beer mug each (relatively small) and there were waiters passing by all the time to check if we need a refill. The service was quite fast and the food we ordered came in a reasonable time. Beer however didn’t taste like Almaza was supposed to, as it was light and sweet.

Around 10:30 pm, groups of dancers and artists took the stage and delivered some really cool performances keeping us entertained until Midnight. What was supposed to be a beer festival quickly turned into a wild party.

The whole event was very nice and the performances very entertaining. Your last chance of attending the festival is on Sunday as other nights are fully booked.

For more information, check out Shtrumpf’s website [Here].