It’s not yet snowing in Mzaar but this is a great start to the winter season.
Bkessine – Picture by Zaher
Raouché Street Performer – Picture via Rodrigue
Jounieh Bay – Picture by Kali
Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Picture by P015
October, or 50 shades of Blue – Picture via Roula
Beirut is the only Arab city that made it to the CNTraveler Top 25 cities of the world list of 2014. Florence came first, followed by Charleston in South Carolina and Budapest in third position.
Here’s the [full list].
PS: It would be nice if they stop using the same picture of Harissa when talking about Beirut.
Though the Middle East’s current political climate is volatile (and, admittedly, has been for much of the last three millennia), Beirut remains a popular port of call for seasoned and in-the-know travelers. As editor David Jefferys says, “it’s simply a city that won’t die.” This immortality is buttressed by a thriving dining and shopping scene—try Tawlet, the ‘farmers’ kitchen’ of Souk el Tayeb (every day, a different regional Lebanese chef is showcased) and Artisan du Liban et d’Orient for traditional local garments and crafts. Adding to Beirut’s appeal as a top world city is the presence of numerous fabulous hotels: Four Seasons Hotel Beirut, Le Gray, and Hotel Albergo come to mind.
I am finding this hard to believe but according to the president of Jbeil-Byblos municipality Ziad Hawat, the old famous Lebanese house in Byblos, as well as the sea castle and other ruins in one of the oldest cities in the world are in danger. Jbeil’s touristic sites have been neglected by the authorities and need proper maintenance and renovation.
I always thought the Jbeil municipality was a wealthy one and I loved what they’ve done to the city and the old souks. I am not sure what the real problem is here but they should figure out a way to finance renovating and preserving all these ruins without relying on the authorities.
Ruins related to several civilizations are found in Byblos, which is one of the oldest Phoenician cities and one of the world’s 20 oldest cities. The old house that we see in all pictures of Jbeil is the only one that was kept in place after the expulsion by the French explorers of the owners of those hours in the late 20th century.
Picture by Charles el Hajj
It appears that some wealthy and powerful investors have set their sights on Ramlet al-Baida and are planning to turn it into a huge private beach resort. This is a repeat of the Daliyeh scenario that saw a lot of people protesting against it but in vain. Moreover, Lebanese Environment Minister Mohamad Machnouk was against fencing the Dalieh but he wasn’t able to do anything about it.
Privatizing Ramlet al-Baida is wrong and should never take place and the Beirut municipality should be the first one to stop this project. I don’t care if it’s for Hariri or Hezbollah or Jumblatt, Ramlet al-Baida should remain a public beach.
The Telegraph posted today a list of the World’s 20 oldest continually-inhabited places on earth, which included four Lebanese cities: Tyre, Beirut, Sidon and Byblos. The list also included Faiyum and Thebes in Egypt, Kirkuk and Arbil in Iraq, Damascus and Aleppo in Syria and Jerusalem and Jericho in Palestine.
The fact that we have 4 of the world’s oldest cities should help us attract further tourists and promote our history instead of showing girls and night clubs in our tourism commercials.
I went with a group of friends to Tawlet Ammiq a couple of weeks ago to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I’ve been hearing a lot about Tawlet Ammiq and I remember posting once a really cool video about it, so I was excited to try it out and see how the day goes.
Tawlet Ammiq or the eco-restaurant of the biosphere is an eco-friendly place characterized by the use of green construction techniques adapted to the climate of the area and the usage profile of the facility. It’s one of the greenest projects in Lebanon as it reduces energy consumption when compared to similar buildings, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by around 85%, recycles over 60% of solid waste and promotes tourism in the area. [More]
In order to get to Ammiq, which is a beautiful village located in the West Beqaa area, you have to take the Dahr el Baydar road and then go right towards Qab Elias once you reach Chtaura [Google Maps]. The road in Qab Elias is not that good but once you reach Ammiq, the road is nicely paved with trees and greenery all around it. Once there, you will drive for around 8 or 10 minutes before you spot a Tawlet Ammiq sign. The venue is 2 minutes away from the main road.
PS: If you are planning to go during the weekend, leave very early specially on Saturday and try to be done by 3 or 4 pm to avoid the traffic on your way back to Beirut.
There’s a small unpaved road that gets you to Tawlet Ammiq but I thought I got lost at first as the venue was really small and not what I had in mind, but then I saw people parking and going down so I did the same. Once you walk in, there’s a table with all drinks on it, mainly beer (961 and Beirut Beer only), juices and Arak then there’s the indoor restaurant. Facing them, there’s a nice outdoor area with tables as well and long chairs where you can sit and tan or just have a drink, enjoy the nice Beqaa view and relax. There’s also a small room with bird paintings in it and some artwork.
We got there around 11:30 am as we were told breakfast is served starting 11, which consisted of small Saj Manakish mixed with cheese, thyme and kechek. There was one guy doing the whole work so we had to wait a bit to get a couple of Manakish but I didn’t mind it as I was enjoying the breathtaking view and having a beer. The place was half empty when we got there, but it was packed by lunch time.
At around 1pm, there’s an open buffet with all sorts of Lebanese dishes and four salads. Everything tastes fresh and the dishes are really good, specially the Chich Barak and Mafroukeh. I loved the tomato jam with the white Baladi cheese and the “kechek akhdar” which I’ve never tasted before. There’s also Kafta, fish and fwerigh.
The dessert buffet was also rich and delicious, and I enjoyed most the Achta Knefe and fruit salad.
After lunch we sat on the long chairs and enjoyed the sun and the view for an hour or so but by 2:30, there was nothing to do anymore. I walked around the venue but unlike the green valleys all over Ammiq, there’s nothing to see or explore. We had a Frisbee with us so we played a bit but that’s about it. I know that it’s an eco-friendly venue but it wouldn’t hurt to have some green spaces around it or at least put some music on to keep us entertained.
All in all, it’s a very nice cozy restaurant with amazing food and a nice setting but I wouldn’t recommend going there to spend the day. Going there for lunch is more than enough to enjoy the venue, the food and the view.