Category Archives: Tourism

Saida’s International Festival is Back!

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Saida, or Sidon, International Festival, which stopped organizing celebrations since 2009, is finally back this year! The festival will run for four days, starting with a touristic day on September 4th, followed by performances by Nancy Ajram and Guy Manoukian on September 16th and 17th and will end with a fun-filled event “Saida in Color” on September 25th. The festival will combine culture, tourism, and art in the most attractive, musical, and fun activities Saida has to offer.

Said Source: RiseAboveLebanon

This year’s slogan is “Let’s make it happen” as the city has been struggling for years and is in dire need of such a festival to showcase the real Saida and inject some activity to the local economy. I’m originally from Saida and it’s a beautiful city with a lot to offer. From the Sea Citadel to Khan Al-Franj, the Soap museum, the Debbaneh Castle and others, Saida, Lebanon’s third largest city and one of its most ancient ones, is rich with cultural and natural heritage. I will be writing another post on the things to do and places to visit in Saida.

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The National Committee of Sidon International Festival has come a long way to bring back these festivals and I hope everything will go smoothly and peacefully.

For more information about the Sidon Festival, read [here].

Travel & Leisure: #Beirut Named The Best International City for Food

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nayye Picture by Bethany Kehdy

Food is probably the only thing we are still good at in Lebanon and we can still brag about. Nothing beats a typical Lebanese lunch with the tens of hot and cold dishes (mezze) and of course the raw meat and the grilled meats (Kafta, Taouk, Kabab etc ..).

Every year, Travel and Leisure asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe and rate cities for a number of qualities, including food. This year, Beirut topped the list followed by San Sebastián and Paris.

Why is Lebanese food so good? Some may argue that Toum (Garlic) is the secret sauce for great Lebanese food. Garlic is indeed essential to almost every Lebanese dish but it’s the variety of dishes and food combinations that we offer that make our food so flavorful and good.

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Here’s what the website said about our capital:

Lebanon’s capital city, Beirut, is having a bit of a cultural renaissance—and it’s not just new museums like the striking Aïshti Foundation that have attracted international attention. There’s arguably no better way to sense the friendliness and enthusiasm of Beiruties than by enjoying fresh a meal at Tawlet, a fantastic Lebanese restaurant in the hip Mar Mikhael neighborhood (order goat tartare and the unusual mountain specialty, h’risset ‘akkub: a lamb porridge with wild thistle). Even breakfast here is exciting: order Al Soussi’s fatteh, a traditional dish of toasted pita, chickpeas, yogurt, and pine nuts.

Tawlet and Al Soussi are indeed ideal destinations for enjoying an authentic Lebanese breakfast and lunch.

You can check out the full list [here].

15 Stunning Hiking & Biking Views from Akkar & Kobayat

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If you are planning a hiking trip anytime soon, North Lebanon and more specifically Akkar has some of the most beautiful hiking trails. As part of the Kobayat festivals, hiking and biking trips are organized for tourists and locals to explore Karm Chabt, one of the best naturally preserved Cedars forest reserve in Lebanon, Al Qammouaa reserve in Fnaidek, Nab3 el Chou7 in Akkar el Atika and other sites.

Here are few pictures taken to show you what you’re missing out on: (Photo Credits: Antoine Daher)

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Akkar Atika

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Biking Trip

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Akkar al-Atika Wins Lebanon’s “Favorite Village” Competition For 2016

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Qammou3a reserve – Akkar

A 10-day long online poll was conducted recently by Lebanon’s French daily L’Orient Le-Jour in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism where people were asked to vote for their favorite village in Lebanon.

More than 120,000 people participated and Akkar al-Atika emerged as Lebanon’s favorite village for 2016, winning over tens of other towns including Ehden, Dhour el Choueir, Hammana, Jezzine and others.

Akkar is one of the most beautiful areas in Lebanon. I was really surprised when I went up the first time as I did not think such beauty and green scenery existed in Lebanon. One of the biggest towns there is Kobayat, a gorgeous place very rich in natural, historical, and religious pilgrimage sites.

If you want more reasons to visit Akkar, check out these “Five Reasons To Visit Kobayat (Akkar)” that I posted last year.

kobayat festivals The Kobayat festivals is the biggest event for the town and in Akkar during the summer.

PS: For more pictures about Akkar Al Atika, check out Nadine’s post.

8 Stunning Pictures From Inside Lamartine/ Mezher’s Palace, Hammana

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La Martine Palace  3 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

The famous Mezher palace located in Hammana and overlooking the valley was once the residence of the famous French poet and statesman Alphonse de Lamartine. The Mezher palace was dubbed the Poet’s dream and quoting Lamartine* “surpasses in elegance, grace and nobility all that I have ever seen of its kind; It may be compared only to one of our most marvelous Gothic castles of the Middle Ages”. The 19th century poet went on to describe the surrounding Hammana valley as “one of the most beautiful views that men have ever beheld, an opportunity to paint the creation of God”, and that “painting or words can describe only one detail of the fairy like treasure with which the Creator endowed Lebanon. The greenery, the trees, the orchards and the forest are renowned, going down in succession and filling the valley with their riches…”.

Lamartine lived there with his wife, and his daughter Julia. In 1933, a French mission visited Hammana and placed commemorative plaque inside the palace in the room where the great poet had slept.

My friend Jad Ghorayeb was visiting the palace last week and was able to get inside and take some stunning pictures which I’m sharing. The Mezher palace is a private residence and its owners have kept its authenticity and beautiful appearance throughout the years.

The pictures are shared with Jad’s consent of course. Make sure to follow his [Instagram page] as he explores hidden gems from all around the country.

LaMartine Old Photo Credits: Amine Saad

Hammana Village of Ba’abda Kaza is located on the Western Lebanese Mountains’ chain at an altitude of 1200 m making it best as an ideal summer resort . The word “Hammana” may have come from the name of the Phoenician god of the Sun “Hammon” or “Hamman”. These two names are derived from the word “Hama” that means: The Heat Of the Sun.

Hammana was first full of Muslim Druze families but from the 16th and 17th centuries on wards, Christians flowed into Hammana at the invitation of Druze Leaders, coming as farmers, technicians, workers and craftsmen. The Mezher Muqqaddameen received them with open arms, giving them free pieces of lands , while Abu Hussein Mezher allowed them to build churches so to pray and practice their religion. Source: Baldati

La Martine Palace 6 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace 2 - JadG Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace - JadG Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace  10 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace  9 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace  7 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

foutain la martine Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

* Source: Voyages en Orient – 1835.

Jounieh Fireworks Were Great Yesterday, But I Didn’t Enjoy Them

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Patrick Pharaon JIF2016_2 Photo Credits: Patrick Pharaon

I look forward to the Jounieh fireworks every year, and I think it’s a nice tradition to kick off the Jounieh International Festivals but I didn’t enjoy them this year for two reasons:

– They were scheduled on a Thursday night which is a big mistake. People driving back from their work were stuck for hours in unnecessary traffic. I spent almost 3 hours to get from Achrafieh to Jeita and I almost missed the fireworks because of traffic.

– The fireworks were stunning but the show was were very similar to last year’s. Since money is no issue, they could have synced the fireworks with a song for a change.

Jihad Asmar JIF2016 Photo Credits: Jihad Asmar

Patrick Pharaon JIF2016 Photo Credits: Patrick Pharaon

Light House 919 JIF2016 Photo Credits: Light House 919

Chiha JIF2016 2 Photo Credits: Elie Chiha (Chi7as)

Vogue Spends Four Perfect Days in Beirut

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Alison Beckner came to visit Beirut for four days and the result was “a perfect storm of shopping, wining, dining, dancing, and—eventually—sleeping in this capital city where the Mediterranean meets the Middle East”.

Friday at Baffa House in the lively neighborhood of Mar Mikhael, a visit to the recently reopened Sursock Museum, dinner at Lux and end the night at the weekly Summer Decks on the Beach party at Sporting Club. Saturday starts at Souk el Tayeb, then a visit to “charming cobblestone streets of Saifi Village”, lunch at the authentic and history-filled restaurant Al Falamanki and party till dawn at the Grand Factory and the legendary B018.

This is a quick recap of the first two days. I love how the author took her time to walk around the city, explore the hidden gems found in every street, visit museums and art galleries and even hit the gym. You can check out the rest of the days [here].

Despite ongoing political turmoil, Beirut remains a hub for Levantine history combined with stunning juxtapositions: green hills, a sea-cradled peninsula, labyrinthine streets, neglected architecture—from Arabesque to Venetian Gothic—high-rises, old mosques, churches and palaces, and much more. Add to this a sociocultural melting pot, teeming with makers, doers, and shakers. The result is a perfect storm of shopping, wining, dining, dancing, and—eventually—sleeping in this capital city where the Mediterranean meets the Middle East. [Vogue]

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Lebanese Wines Marsyas & Bargylus Featured In France’s Le Monde

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Karim and Sandro Saadé, the two brothers and owners of Château Marsyas in Lebanon and Domaine de Bargylus in Syria got a special two-page feature in the French daily newspapers Le Monde, one of the most important and widely respected papers in France and the world.

The report. entitled “The Grapes of Hope” was more than just publicity for the well-established wines but also aimed at portraying the positive side of Lebanon and the perseverance of wine makers despite the circumstances and the ongoing Syrian crisis.

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Lebanon is among the oldest sites of wine production in the world and our wines are celebrated worldwide. Personally speaking, Marsyas and Bargylus are among my top 5 favorite Lebanese wines. In fact, I’m gonna have a Bqa Marsyas Rouge tonight while watching Germany defeat Italy 😀

Congrats to the Saade brothers for this special feature and for their resilience in producing wine in Lebanon and more specifically in Syria despite being unable to access the estate there since 2011.

Cheers to better days ahead for Lebanon and the whole Middle East!

You can check out the full report [here].

#LiveLoveLebanon: Promoting Rural Lebanon & Lebanese Traditional Guest Houses

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If you want take a journey into the heart of rural Lebanon, there are tens of gorgeous guesthouses located in breathtaking locations and offering an authentic Lebanese experience. To name few:

Bouyouti – Maasser Beiteddine
Mtein Guesthouse – Mtein
Tafla – Smar Jbeil
Eco Dalida – Tannourine
Esber Guesthouse – Rachaya el Fokhar
Dar Mehdi – Rachaya el Wadi
Akram Guesthouse – Barouk
Beit Douma – Douma
Der Qadisha – Hasroun
Beit el Nessim – Al Mina Tripoli
Remhala Guesthouse – Aley
Dar Alma – Tyre
Dar Linda – Deir el Qamar
Dar el Achrafieh – Achrafieh

You can check out information for some of them on [hotelibanais].

I loved the video and the music. Another job well done by The Ministry of Tourism!

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