Category Archives: Lifestyle

Sunday Morning Escape

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You might have visited every city in the country, but if you have not experienced Lebanon by bike then you have definitely been missing out. Three years ago, my friends got me a bike, they were certain that it was going to end up in the garage with layers of dust covering it. To everyone’s surprise, from that day, I have been biking every single weekend.

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Sunday for me, has drastically changed from a lazy day (±200 calories) to the most active day of the week (+2000 calories). On an average, we cover around 60-70 Km per ride, taking anywhere between 3-5 hours, depending on the number of stops we do. Our rides are not competitive, we are not in it to win a championship, but rather escape, be active, enjoy the outdoors and Live Love Lebanon.

When is the best time to go biking?
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My journey starts every Sunday at 6am. I wake up, grab a light breakfast (usually a small sandwich), pack my bike and gear and head out for my ritual ride. The ride usually starts at 8am and ends by 1pm, just in time for Sunday lunch. Before you start, find yourself a biking partner, it’s always more fun and a lot safer when you have someone with you. Every week we set out to discover a new location in the country.

What’s beautiful about bike rides, is that you get to see the places you usually miss out on by car. You can go into the narrow streets, stop and admire anything you find interesting along the way, enjoy the scenery, discover new places and take lots of amazing pictures.

What type of biker are you?

There are plenty of locations to enjoy different types of rides. City rides, sea side rides, mountain rides, uphill rides, and my personal favorites are the offroad rides.

Beginner:
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If you are a beginner, haven’t been on a bike for a long time or panic around cars, I would advise you to stick to relatively closed circuits, where cars aren’t swarming around you, like the Dbayeh Marina, Raouche, Beirut Waterfront or Amchit seaside boulevards.

Average:
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If you are an ok biker like most people, then you can venture a bit and hit the streets, the best place to ride is the on the old sea side road Jbeil – Amchit – Batroun – Anfeh. It’s relatively a straight path with few slopes, not many cars use that road on a Sunday morning, the scenery is breathtaking, and there are many places where you can stop and relax along the way. You can stop at the beach and have a swim, fuel up with a lemonade in the old Batroun souks or even get a glass of beer and chill at Colonel Beer.

Advanced:
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If you are an advanced biker, you can burn few more more calories by riding uphill in the Metn area, starting in Baabdat and moving up to Ain El Sefsaf or even shoot for longer rides in the Bekaa valey from Taanayel to Qaraoun.

Thrill Seeker:

Thrill seekers can go into remote rocky areas in Wata El Joz, Keserwan and enjoy an offroad experience. Of course you need a mountain bike and some extra protection gear to endure the ride.

How much does it cost?
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If you don’t have a bike, you can always purchase one, you don’t need an expensive bike. You can get a mountain bike that works both for city rides and offroad for $500-700. If you don’t want to invest in a bike just yet, there are plenty of bike rentals in Beirut, Gemmayze, Jbeil, Amchit and Batroun. You can rent a bike for as low as 7,000 L.L.

All in All:
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In Lebanon, we have the perfect landscape and weather for outdoor activities. Unfortunately, our roads are in terrible conditions, there are no bike lanes and car drivers have no respect for bikers on the streets. This is the main reason why I bike very early on Sundays, to minimize as much as possible the risks of getting hit by a car and avoid heavy traffic.

With the upcoming municipal elections, electoral programs should focus more on making the cities open and fit for healthier outdoor life, encourage people to go out, be active and use less and less their cars. Of course we can always dream of having a bicycle highway, like the one Germany just opened. It’s a 62 miles bicycle road that connects 10 western cities including Duisburg, Bochum, and Hamm, as well as four universities.

#BlogWaladi: Clashing Parenting Styles & How To Deal With Grand Parents

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Briann

Even if you have the sweetest parents and in-laws, there will come a time when one of them or both will get on your nerves when they are offering unsolicited advice on how to care for your little one. Of course grandparents really do mean well and want to make sure that their grandchildren are cared for in the most proper way but their parenting styles and tips are not always the best and can be outdated, wrong, or downright harmful especially when they suggest Arak as a teething remedy, make your 6-month old child taste chocolate or drink water or even allow him to watch TV.

All grandparents want to help, even though they are not obligated to, so we should be grateful in a way and try to find a balance between letting them enjoy spoiling and loving their grandchildren and keeping them from crossing boundaries.

Here are few tips on how to handle unwanted parenting advice:
1- Be in agreement with your wife on how you’re going to raise your child. This will help you confront grandparents over sensitive issues.

2- Quote the pediatrician when boundaries are crossed, and make sure to do it respectfully and calmly in order not to harm the relationship and avoid confrontation. Your parents do have more experience than you in raising kids but they are not more qualified than your baby’s doctor to give advice.

3- Don’t set yourself as an adversary and try to listen to some of your grandparents’ advice. You definitely don’t want to miss out on some great advice and some of their tips might actually fit with your parenting style.

I know things are easier said than done, but it’s in your best interest to listen to grandparents, explain to them what they are doing wrong and come up with constructive things that each of them can do to help rather than reject everything they have to offer. Making them feel helpful is much more rewarding for the whole family, especially the baby.

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In order to illustrate better these clashing parenting styles that every family will face at some point, there’s a brilliant, and funny, YouTube series “Drama Mama” that my friend Maia did as part of Nestlé’s Start Healthy Stay Healthy initiative and that aims at generating awareness and providing essential information to pregnant women and mothers.

Some of the topics covered are: Water for newborns, Baby’s bed, Baby sleeping time, Teething in babies, Baby nutrition schedule and others.

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

What Are We Teaching Our Kids In Lebanon?

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Vienna Metro

Last week, my wife and I managed to get out of the country and spend a few days in Europe. We wanted to recharge our batteries and get away from the daily pressures we all face in the country. The whole trip was amazing and we managed to disconnect and enjoy the beautiful cities of Budapest and Vienna during winter time. Looking back at the trip and any other trip, you realize that so many memories are forever engraved in your mind.

Ironically, the most striking image that I can never get out of my head is not that of an enchanting castle or a majestic church. It’s rather the image of a family (mom, dad and child) at the metro station in Vienna standing at the ticket booth making sure that they insert the tickets before using the metro.

So What’s the big deal? 

1- The rotating metallic barriers or blocking doors usually found at any metro station entrance in order to prevent people without tickets from entering, did not exist.

2- Security and police officers were not present at the gates in order to check the tickets and prevent people without purchased tickets from entering.

3- One can easily go in and out without a ticket. Nothing and nobody will stop them.

4- At the time, the station was somehow empty and almost nobody was around. These people were practically alone and yet they stopped in the middle of an empty hallway on a virtual border to insert their tickets before moving towards the metro area.

These two parents could have easily not stopped and kept going with their child. They could have used one of the many excuses we use everyday to justify our public wrongdoings (we’re late, we’re not the only ones, the train is here, who cares, everybody does it, etc). Instead, they are teaching their child not to steal or cheat his way through life, and are raising him to be a responsible citizen.

The question remains:

What are we teaching our kids in Lebanon? Are we able to raise them as true citizens with everything happening around us? How can we teach them to abide by the law when those in charge of enforcing it are corrupt? How can we ask them to do the right thing when you need a “wasta” for almost anything in this country?

I don’t have an answer for that but I know I will try my best to raise my kids to become good citizens and encourage them to make a difference in Lebanon and the world. Even though it’s hard in a country like ours, we all need to do an extra effort and teach our children honesty, responsibility, fairness, compassion and inspire them to make a change in their community. Raising our children to become good citizens in a failed state is difficult yet remains something we should be fully committed for their own sake and the country’s sake.

Inside O1NE Beirut By SKYBAR: Lebanon’s Hottest Night-Life Venue In Winter

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If Skybar is the place to be during summer in Lebanon, O1NE Beirut is the best place to party during winter. What started out as a huge pink round building was transformed into a true artistic landmark for Lebanon and the region. Talented graffiti artists from all over the world came to Lebanon to interpret the theme of music on the 3,000 sqm wall and the outcome is an awesome venue featuring the world’s largest privately owned graffiti wall.

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As for the interior, O1NE consists of blank white walls that come to life at night with 3D video mapping all over them. It was very difficult to visualize the interior when my friend at Skybar explained it to me, but once I was inside, the first thing that caught my attention was the beautiful interior and how it takes you from one mood to another throughout the night. The music and the 3D Mapping synced in a beautiful way that I haven’t seen anywhere in a night club before and everyone can see the mappings as they cover the full 360 degrees.

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O1NE is very spacious inside and even though I was with a group of 20 people that night, we never felt that squeezed or uncomfortable. Of course it got more and more crowded as the night progressed but it was relatively ok when compared to SKYBAR’s nights where you could barely move. Towards the end of the night, I went up to the DJ’s booth that overlooked the venue and it was pretty cool from up there. My contact at Skybar told me that there are plans to build private rooms with balconies overlooking the club in Beirut just like O1NE Abu Dhabi, which would be pretty cool but I don’t know when it will happen.

As far as the music is concerned, O1NE plays all genres of house music and has been bringing hot performers every week. Last weekend Jamie Jones was playing his sets and this week, it’s gonna get hotter with Luciano on Friday night and DJ Magnum on Saturday. Price-wise, we ended up paying around 65$ per person that night which is a very reasonable price.

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O1NE Beirut is located in Downtown Beirut right on Biel’s entrance. You can call 70 939 191 to book your table and make sure to check their Facebook page as they keep posting updates there.

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Rating: 4.5/5

Where To Spend New Year’s Eve In Lebanon

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Picture via BeirutNightLife

The 2014 New Year’s Eve is only 20 days away and I am sure a lot of people haven’t thought of any plans yet. Luckily though, my friends at Lebtivity compiled 41 nightlife events you could attend on New Year’s Eve in Beirut. You can check them out [Here].

Moreover, here’s another useful website named [newyearinlebanon] that helps you plan your NYE party by budget and shows you the parties inside and outside Beirut.

Rikky’z New Location

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Rikky’s is now located in Faraya overlooking the Chabrouh dam

As some of you know or may not know, Rikky’s has moved to a new venue in Faraya 10 minutes away from the original one. The venue looks almost exactly like the old one but it is more spacious and better organized now. The venue fits twice as much as before, the bar is now inside and much bigger, the BBQ is in a small area far from the tables and the entrance fee is now 100,000 LBP, up 10,000 Liras from last year (including open drinks and buffet).

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The salads are still placed inside as well as the Pasta and Saj stations. You have to walk down few stairs to get to the BBQ area, which includes a Shawarma station, Steaks, Hotdogs and Burgers.

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The music and atmosphere are as great as before, but the seating is still not comfortable and the tables and chairs are very close to each other. I don’t know why they didn’t keep some space between them but it’s very annoying specially when you pick a table in the middle. Added to that, you still need 10 minutes (Unless you want an Almaza or a Buzz as they are put aside in large ice buckets) or more to get a drink even though the bar is bigger now. I barely had 3 drinks during the 3 hours I spent there. Same thing for the food when it gets crowded, even though food was much better than last year.

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The party starts around 2pm so it’s recommended to arrive around noon so you can have few drinks, grab a bite and get in the mood. Don’t forget to check in on Foursquare and pick up your free hats because the sun is a killer up there. I recommend you download their app too as it will help you find the new location if you get lost [Android] [iOS].

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All in all, I like the new Rikky’z better but I wish they made it more comfortable and started serving alcohol (Bottles) on the tables instead of making us wait forever on the bar. Nevertheless, it’s probably the best place up in the mountains to spend a Sunday afternoon with your friends, eating and drinking and dancing surrounded by breathtaking views.

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PS: If you look at the picture closely, the people sitting on the barriers surrounding the outside area could easily fall off and get seriously injured. I think Rikky’s should ban anyone from sitting there or build some safety net below them.

Pool Parties in Lebanon

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Pool Party? Picture via Beiruting

I have nothing against going to the pool on weekends just to relax, have a drink and listen to good music, but the fact that there’s a DJ doesn’t make it a pool or a beach party. I look at these albums of “pool parties” at Riviera or Edde Sands and many other resorts and all I see are almost empty pools, people sitting having a drink, or couples and groups posing for pictures.

Here are pictures from a pool party at Edde Sands, one at Cyan and some other pictures from the Wettest Pool Parties.

I am not expecting something similar to a Las Vegas pool party like in the picture below, but at least see pictures of people actually dancing and partying.

It looks like we’ve reached a new laziness level in Lebanon.

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Las Vegas Pool Party

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Sausage Fest not a Hot Party – via BeirutNightLife

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Couple kissing and posing: Picture from Riviera – via Beiruting

The Gemmayze Barber

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Picture from NowLebanon

He still has President Camille Chamoun’s picture in his shop. No wonder he lost hope in Lebanon if he had lived the golden years and seen what we’ve come to.

In 1965, at the age of 27, he finally opened his own barber shop. A lot has changed since then: “Gemmayzeh was different! Nowadays it’s all about pubs and cafes!” He is nostalgic for those days when everyone used to know everyone, regardless of their religion, and when Beirut was a prosperous city inhabited by a peaceful community.

When we started talking about the old, pre-82 Beirut a small smile crossed his face, he put his hand on his right cheek and started staring at the sky. When we talked about the Beirut of nowadays his smile disappeared. “I wish hope would still exist in Beirut,” he said. [NowLebanon]

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Picture from NowLebanon

Sects and the city

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A nice read with a lot of details on Tripoli’s fighters and the clashes occurring there.

In Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, sectarian warfare has become entrenched as a way of life. Every few weeks, armed clashes erupt between Sunni Muslims in the Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood and Alawites on the hilltop of Jabal Mohsen. With the absence of a real political initiative to contain the crisis, clashes are expected to continue as the conflict in Syria worsens.

Different political parties are believed to be investing in the rifts so as to steer events towards a course that would better serve their goals. Syria and Hezbollah are backing the Alawite fighters while Sunni politicians and Gulf sources are backing the Sunnis to mobilize their support. As fighters on both sides become pawns in a larger regional game, former Prime Minister Najib Miqati is believed to be extending an arm to the Sunni street seen as supporters of the revolution.

Since the outbreak of hostilities in Syria between the Assad regime and opposition forces, the war has spilled over into Lebanon. Sunnis in the Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood support the rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while the Alawites of Jabal Mohsen stand loyally by him. It is fitting that the street which forms one of the major frontlines between both is called Syria Street.