Category Archives: Tourism

Five Reasons To Visit Kobayat (Akkar) This Summer

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Kammou3a3

Kobayat is a Lebanese town located northeast of Tripoli in Lebanon’s Akkar district and is 150km away from the capital Beirut. To be honest, I had never visited Kobayat or Akkar before 2010 as I wasn’t very familiar with the area and it was a bit too far, but I was really surprised when I went up the first time as I did not think such beauty and green scenery existed in Lebanon and I’ve been encouraging all my friends to visit Akkar and Kobayat ever since. Kobayat is a gorgeous town very rich in natural, historical, and religious pilgrimage sites and it’s an ideal weekend getaway with your family or friends.

Here are five reasons which you should visit Akkar and Kobayat this summer:

1- Eco-Tourism and Sightseeing: The largest green areas in Lebanon
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Kobayat is very green and very quiet. The forests in the Kobayat area and around it are the largest in Lebanon and the most bio-diverse in the region, there are at least three protected natural sites of forests including Karm-Chbat, one of the best naturally preserved Cedars forest reserve in Lebanon, Al-Chanbouq Reserve and Al Qammouaa (in Fnaidek) which are areas of rich biodiversity where you can find Cedar and pine trees as well as one of the largest Oak forests, characterized by its density & length, (غابة العزر) in the Middle East. If you head to Andkit which is 5 minutes away from Kobayat, you can visit the stunning Audeen Valley. Other natural attractions also include Ain Martmoura (Spring), Al Kobayat river & Ain al Sitt, a couple of springs and old caves in Fnaidek. There’s a lot of greenery everywhere you look and you can spend the whole day driving or walking around and enjoying the landscapes. Moreover, if you love trekking, hiking or mountain biking, you will find the most beautiful trails there.

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For those of you who like museums, Kobayat has an amazing scientific museum for birds, butterflies and animals that served once as a school for Carmelite priests back in 1908. The museum has over 400 species of birds and animals found in Lebanon and up to 4000 species of butterflies from all over the world.

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2- History: Kobayat is one of Lebanon’s most ancient towns
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Kobayat is a very old town and was considered a major trading route on the Silk Road. You will find artifacts dating back to the Phoenicians, Greek and Roman Empires and others. Here’s a list of monuments that you can visit in Kobayat and its vicinity that include:
– An old silk plant and remains of old mills (also found in nearby Andkit).
– An old olive press with caves and engraved rocks in Akroum.
– A 13th century citadel in Akkar Al-Atika.
– Old citadels and mosques dating from the 19th century in Al Bireh and Bourj village.
– Al Hosn citadel and Nebuchadnezzar Rock in Kfarnoun.

Mar Sarkis

3- Religious Tourism: Over 25 Churches,
Convents & 
Monasteries
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A lot of people visit Kobayat for faith reasons. There are tens of ancient churches, convents and monasteries in Kobayat and its vicinity and most of them are located in the most amazing spots all surrounded by greenery. Some of the popular religious sites in Kobayat are:

– Saydet (Our Lady) Al-Ghisseleh Ancient Church
– Mar Doumit Ancient Monastery for Carmelite Fathers
– Mar Challita Ancient Monastery (Andkit)
– Saint Joseph and Mar Saba Ancient Monasteries (Andkit)
– Mar Gerges (Saint Georges) Ancient Monastery and Church, near an Old Well
– Saydet Ghezrata Ancient Church
– Old Church in Al-Chanbouq Area
– Saydet Chahlo Church
– Mar Eliane Monastery within Al-Bat’aneh Valley buried underground (Andkit)
– Our Lady of the Fort (Saydet el Qalaa) in Mounjez
– Mar Elias in Oudine.

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There’s also a huge cross in Kobayat worth visiting.

4- Kobayat is the starting point of the LMT (Lebanon Mountain Trail)

The Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT) is the longest hiking trail in Lebanon as it pretty much covers the whole country. It extends from Kobayat in the north of Lebanon to Marjaayoun in the south, a 440 km path that transects more than 75 towns and villages at altitudes ranging from 600 to 2,000 meters above sea level. For more information, check their website [here].

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The LMT is probably the best way to experience the natural beauty and cultural wealth of Lebanon’s mountains. Here’s a small video worth checking:

[YouTube]

5- Entertainement: Kobayat Summer Festivals:
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I had the chance to meet the head of the Kobayat Festivals committee Cynthia Karkafi Hobeiche few months back during a reforestation campaign in Kobayat and she briefed me on the hard work they’ve been pulling to promote Kobayat and Akkar as a summer destination. The Kobayat festivals is the biggest event for the town during the summer as it occurs on the same weekend as Eid el Saydeh (Assumption of Mary holiday). Kobayat is always packed during this time of year, as most of the families go back to their hometown to enjoy the festivities and spend time with their families.

Wael Kfoury and Assi el Hellani are performing this year at the Kobayat festival. You can buy your tickets at [Virgin Ticketing Box office]. Bus lifts are available for $10 only. For more info, check out [Kobayat Festival on Facebook] or call 09 934 921.

brochure Kobayat Festival Committee is also organizing an eco-tourism and sightseeing day. Call 09 934 921 for further details

Where to eat in Kobayat?

The first thing that you need to try if you are visiting Kobayat is the Tannour and (Tlamé) bread for breakfast. There’s a Tannour place at the entrance of Kobayat called Hatbe w Nara and an old Tlamé place in Andkit that I posted about previously. If you want to have lunch or dinner, there’s Kobayat Country Club, Karam Cafe, Chellel el Samak and Al Wadi (next to Mar Challita) restaurants. There’s also the traditional Kebbe that locals do but I don’t think you can find it in restaurants.

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All in all, Kobayat is a beautiful town that I recommend you all visit this summer. You get to enjoy the beautiful nature, the trails, trees and forest and more importantly escape from the city and all the noise and pollution.

[YouTube]

Some of the pictures are taken from Dr. Antoine Daher with his permission of course. I use several resources for the post, including [Ebaladiyat], [MOT], this [document] and of course the Kobayat festival committee and its esteemed president.

Week34: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Chouf Beautiful Chouf – by Buddcorp

You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram on [Instagram]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [here] if you like.

Batroun house Batroun house – by Mia Karam

chiah Lebanon thru the eyes of Silvio Chiha

chouwen Chouwen river – by Hassanasser1

dive Fear nothing! By Charbel Bouez

divers 17 divers and helpers raised a 66 sqm Lebanese flag, the largest underwater Lebanese flag, in Chekka, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Lebanese army. By Freakgmb

Hippodrome Hippodrome de Beirut – by Riseabovelebanon

manakish Manakish anyone? By Ppharaon

Discovering Lebanon, The Lebanon We Love, Through The Eyes Of Silvio Chiha

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chiha1

Enough with the garbage talks and the ugly pictures we’ve been seen for over a week now, here’s an breathtaking movie showing Lebanon’s natural beauty though the eyes of Silvio Chiha, an internationally known Lebanese water skiing champion, and the lens of my good friend Charbel Bouez.

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Sit back and enjoy the beautiful Lebanon we know and that we want to show to the world!

[YouTube]

Ten Things The Telegraph Didn’t Know About Lebanon

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leb via LiveLoveBeirut

It’s not always a good thing when Lebanon is promoted as a touristic destination by international media as the way they perceive things is sometimes highly inaccurate. Of course you can’t really blame them because of the current situation on the borders and in neighboring countries but it wouldn’t hurt to double check on some facts before publishing them.

I just finished reading an article recently published by the Telegraph on Beirut entitled “War is a million miles away when the Lebanese begin to party” and here are ten things they got completely wrong. The first two are related to the outdated pictures they used, while the rest is from the article itself.

chris A Lebanese Christian woman partying after recent elections

1- The last elections took place on June 7, 2009 which is more than 6 years ago and a “Christian woman” drinking champagne after results were announced is not really how we party in Beirut.

diningg Dining out in Beirut’s rebuilt downtown area (Photo: Alamy)

2- I don’t remember the last time I saw people dining in that area of Beirut. I think it goes back to 2003 or 2004. Whomever wrote this article obviously hasn’t visited Beirut in a long time.

Standing on picnic tables, skinny girls in hot pants and crop-tops gyrated to thumping beats, upending bottles of vodka into the mouths of the bare-chested men dancing beside them. An open-top car, Christian Louboutin shoes and a full-time, live-in maid to look after one’s children are all must-have accessories.

3- Are they referring to Rikkyz here? If not where is this place in the Lebanese mountains with skinny girls in hot pants and bare-chested men? I had no clue Rikkyz was for fancy people only.

Beauty is paramount: parents are known to book nose jobs as a birthday presents for their teenage children, and the youngsters wear their stitches proudly, as badges of honour. The average cost of a birthday party among this elite, one event organiser tells me, is $200,000. A wedding is $300,000.

4- Nose jobs for teenage children? Wear their stitches as a badge of honor? Really? And birthday parties for $200,000? Are we talking about Lebanon here? Plastic surgery is quite common in Lebanon but people tend to be discreet about it as far as I know.

It is said that most of the country’s big spenders sustain their lifestyles using bank loans they cannot obviously repay. The phenomenon is often explained as a consequence of the civil war.

5- Bank loans for $200,000 to hold a birthday party and get a nose job? Lebanese families who organize such parties don’t need bank loans. They probably own banks themselves. Moreover, the phenomenon is not a consequence of the civil war as most people tend to overspend on their credit cards. This is a universal problem for all credit card holders.

Society remains divided. Most Lebanese put sect before country. Beirut is a patchwork of separate cantons (in Christian Ashrafieh, the women wear miniskirts, while 10 minutes’ walk east, in the mostly Shia district of Basta, the prevailing fashion is the hijab).

6- Shia District of Basta? Isn’t Basta a traditionally Sunnite area?

The communities rarely interact.

7- That’s true. Christians rarely talk to Muslims and we rarely hang out at the same places. Yesterday I went to Verdun and I was a bit worried that Muslims on camels might attack me there, but then I spotted Christians wearing gold chain necklaces with a cross on it and I felt safe again.

Rushing through the city’s Armenian quarter one night, on my way to the chic downtown district, I was stopped by an elderly man who warned me not to go on. “There are Muslims there,” he cautioned.

8- The Muslims are coming. Beware lol!

A Lebanese businessman told me recently how he had struggled to persuade a British colleague to come to Beirut. For years she refused to visit, until it became a necessity for her work. Convinced she was flying into a war zone, her hands shook with fear as she checked in at Heathrow. On the plane she broke into floods of tears.

9- This passage is quite insulting to the whole British community and to British Ambassador Tom Fletcher. Is it so hard for this young woman to check the British Embassy’s website and understand what’s happening in Lebanon. Ironically enough, the UK travel advice to Lebanon is one of the most detailed and accurate ones.

For now, sadly, even at the magnificent Greco-Roman temples of Baalbek, the tourist touts sit together at a coffee table by the empty ticket hall. A camel, dressed up to the nines, with an embroidered doily resting between its ears and an elaborately carved wooden saddle on his back, waits under a tree, desolately swatting flies with its tail. The businessman’s friend may well have been their last customer.

10- The Baalbeck International Festival is the oldest and most prestigious cultural event in the Middle East and is visited by thousands every year. Last year, the festivals were relocated due to the situation in Syria but they are back this year. Moreover, Baalbeck is almost one of the most impressive and most visited sites in Lebanon.

The only thing that the Telegraph goes right was that the “biggest risk to foreigners in Lebanon is a thick waistline and a stinking hangover”. Here’s a [link] to the full article.

PS: If you’re coming to Lebanon this summer, here’s a list of fun things to do.

Week33: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Barook Barouk Cedars – by Sarah

You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram on [Instagram]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [here] if you like.

Jounieh festival Jounieh Festival – by RiseAboveLebanon

Harissa Harissa – by Eliasouba

Gazl Le marchand de bonheur – by Elias.ac

Cedars1 Eternal gardens – by Eli.youssef

Baakline Baakline waterfalls

Afqa Afka – by Gilbert Geagea

HMA Tom Fletcher Bids Farewell To Lebanon By Walking From Batroun To Beirut

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fletcher1

HMA Tom Fletcher is touring the country and promoting Lebanon as a touristic destination on his final days as the British Ambassador. Fletcher had lemonade in Batroun, then walked all the way from Batroun to Jbeil where he visited the souks and met the locals. On the second day, he went to Harissa and wore the traditional Lebanese costume during a dinner ceremony held in his honor. Later on, he visited the Jounieh souks, walked all the way to Nahr el Kalb where he visited the different monuments, passed by Beirut’s port to show support to the Lebanese economy before reaching his final destination at Martyrs Square in Beirut.

Fletcher

HMA Tom Fletcher may no longer be an ambassador to Lebanon but he’s from now an ambassador for Lebanon and he’s a perfect fit for the job. We thank you for showing the true image of Lebanon and being the best diplomat Lebanon has had in years!

[YouTube]

Week32: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Hammana Hammana house by James al Achkar

You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram on [Instagram]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [here] if you like.

Harissa Overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral – by RiseAboveLebanon

Ehden A walk in Ehden – by GeorgioBassil

Ehden2 Gorgeous Ehden sunset – by Rayudi

Hasbaya Hasbaya – by TracyHelou

Taanayel Taanayel – by Nady83

Zahle Live Love Zahle – by Charbolography

beach Pearl Beach – by Giorgio

Things To Do In Jbeil (Byblos) During The Summer

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Jbeil, one of the world’s oldest cities, has always been one of my favorite cities in Lebanon and I tend to visit it quite often. There are so many things to do there and you can spend a whole weekend touring the city and having fun, especially during summer. A couple of months back, I criticized these unheard of awards that Jbeil is being awarded every year and mentioned that our primary focus should be on promoting tours and activities in Jbeil because these awards won’t help much if tourists don’t know how to get to Byblos. In fact, most of the tourists and a lot of Lebanese want to go to Jbeil but they have no idea what to do there or what to expect, so here’s a small post to highlight some of the things that you can do there:

Spend the day at the beach:
2780353804_da9e590180_o Picture by Nicolas Karim

Most people know Edde Sands in Jbeil and it’s a beautiful resort but there are others like Santa Prairie, Ocean Blue, Bay 183 and Byblos Sud. You can also find a couple of public beaches, especially one near the Crusader Castle called Al Ba7ssa.

Visiting the Old Souks:
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The old souks connect the centre of the city to the sea side and are packed with restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops. There are also beautiful churches and a mosque to visit. You can either take a calm walk during the day or wait till the souks get really packed at night. If you are looking for Arabic places to try out, I recommend Bab El Mina, Beit Nezha, La Locanda (especially the desserts), 1188 lounge and bar resto or Feniqia (Lebanese food with a twist). If you are looking for international cuisine, ecafé is a good option even though I was rather disappointed by the food and service during my last two visits. There’s also a small place called éBaladi that serves breakfast (manakish, eggs, etc ..) and is worth a try if you want to grab a quick bite. If you head out of the souks, there are plenty of fast food chains and restaurants to check out (Roadster, Zaatar W Zeit, Crepaway, Ksar, Mon Maki A Moi and others). There’s also one of the first ever Mexican restaurants in Lebanon El Molino that you can check out.

PS: You can also rent bicycles and tour the city but bike tours and tracks are not well organized.

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Take a boat trip and have lunch by the sea
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For those who enjoy the sea, you can head down to the Byblos port and go on a boat trip for 1 hour or more. It’s a fun ride and if you are lucky enough, you might spot dolphins. Once you are back to the shore, you can enjoy lunch at one of the many fish restaurants by the sea. Pépé Abed (Byblos Fishing Club) is a must-visit.

During the summer, you can also enjoy the Byblos International Festival which takes places right by the sea.

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Public gardens, churches, ruins, museums and a lot of sightseeing:
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Byblos is one of the World’s 20 oldest continually-inhabited places on earth, and there are plenty of archaeological sites and attractions to visit there. There are several old churches, mainly St. John the Baptist Church and the ancient Our Lady of Deliverance Church, the Sultan Abdel Majid Mosque, the iconic El-Houssami Old Lebanese House and the archaeological site around it, the Crusader Castle, the Roman Theater, Roman columns and others …

The best part is that most of these sites are nearby and you can walk around the city discovering them one by one. There’s also a wax museum worth checking out and a public library.

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Jbeil by night:
dsc00427 Picture Source

The souks are usually crowded at night and there are plenty of pubs and restaurants to visit. I sometimes used to go there just to walk around and enjoy the city by night. The harbor is a great spot to grab a beer and just watch the sunset. Some of the places worth checking out are Garten, Backdoor, Barbacane, Oasis and 1188. If you are looking for the real nightlife experience, you can head to Publicity, a large venue with many pubs and restaurants 5 minutes away from the souks.

Unknown parts of Jbeil:
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If you like Shawarma, there’s a popular place called Rock. There’s also another place called Kaddoum that has all sorts of sandwiches and has great cocktails. Sub-Omelette or Chicken Sub at Mike Snack are also worth a try. Ice cream (Achta) at Nashawati comes highly recommended as well.

All in all, Jbeil is a beautiful city that can easily become a tourist attraction if it’s promoted properly. If you feel like I’ve missed something worth mentioning, please email me (nmitri@gmail.com) and I will gladly add it to the post. Until then, spread the word and Live Love Jbeil!

Special thanks to Sophie and Chadi!

Week31: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Taanayel Gorgeous Taanayel – by AntonioHab

You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram on [Instagram]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [here] if you like.

ananas Cheers to a great summer ahead – by Nathalieviel

Batroun Batroun underwater – by ChrisKabalan

Church Batroun St Stephan Church – Batroun – by Dany_111

fgreen The Cedars by Ryan

Kroom Ehden An escape from Beirut – Kroom Ehden by Buddcorp

Sail away Sail away – by Dany