Category Archives: Travel

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:
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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:
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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!

Week30: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Jounieh Flying over Jounieh – by Sara el Dana

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

Beirut Flying over the parliament – by Micho el Khoury

sunset Beautiful sunset – by F.Rostom

Ehden In love with Ehden – By Eli77

Dbayyeh Dbayyeh sunset – by JoseDaou

Cedars A walk in the Cedars forest – by Sacha el Aref

Busy From the sky – by Antoun Hayek

My Pictures of Beirut, The Beirut We Love, Featured on CNN iReport

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20150622180740jpg-3629922_p9 Said Akl tribute in Gemmayze

I’m not sure if my Anthony Bourdain post got CNN interested in my Instagram account, but they asked me to send a couple of pictures that I took in Beirut and they got featured on CNN’s iReport which is pretty cool.

I wish I could have sent more pictures to show them all the complex elements that make Beirut a beautiful city. The old streets and houses next to the skyscrapers, five star hotels and rooftops, the vibrant nightlife 10 minutes way from refugee camps and security zones, the residential streets packed with pubs, bars and plenty of street food, and other things that make Beirut so special and so difficult to live in.

I know Lebanon has a ton of issues now, we don’t have a president, over 2 million Syrian and Palestinian refugees, terrorists at the borders, armed groups inside the country, corrupt politicians and a bad economy but that doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy our everyday life and make the best out of it, and more importantly speak positively about our country.

CNN iReport View from The Roof – Four Seasons Beirut

The Westin Resort Costa Navarino: Where I’d Want To Wake Up On A Friday!

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When I first got the media trip invite to Costa Navarino from Wild Discovery, I started googling the location and the resort and quickly fell in love with it, but trust me, the resort and the whole installation are far more wonderful to experience than read about in reviews or see in pictures, and the weekend getaway I spent there was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable ones I’ve had ever since my honeymoon euro trip back in 2013. As I said, it’s hard to describe how beautiful the place is but I’ll try to take you through my whole experience there and share amazing pictures that will make you want to take the next plane and head there (it’s only 2 hours flight away).

The Resort:
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The Westin Resort Costa Navarino is a huge luxury resort located in a beautiful and untouched area of Messinia in Greece. The 5-star resort has 450 rooms and suites all designed and inspired by old Messinian mansions and enjoying an unobstructed sea view, add to that a multitude of facilities and recreational activities. I counted 5 restaurants, six pools, a playground for kids and sliding pool, tennis courts, two huge golf courses and a gorgeous spa. The rooms are clean and spacious, the staff is extremely friendly, the service is excellent, and everything is so calm and serene everywhere you go. To be honest, I thought I’d get bored in a relaxing resort but that wasn’t the case at the Westin Resort. You could walk for hours inside the resort and discover every day new things to do and new places to see.

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The beach is a must-visit of course as it’s sandy, very long and quite amazing and you can spend the whole day there. There’s also this small bar with quite a dreamy ceiling that I highly recommend you pass by. Also what’s quite impressive about the resort is how eco-friendly it is and the management’s commitment to the environment. We were even told that every olive tree that had to be taken out to make way for the resort was planted elsewhere carefully.

Food & Drinks
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The best meal I’ve had at the Westin Resort was the first one. We had just arrived after a long bus trip and the breakfast buffet was almost closed so we asked the staff if they could get us omelettes and they brought us something out of this world! I still don’t know the exact ingredients but it was really good.

In terms of restaurants, we tried Flame, Kafenio and Morias. Flame is a fine dining restaurant that overlooks one of the gulf courses and serves excellent steaks. All the dishes we tried were quite good and I enjoyed the Greek Labneh more than ours (Blasphemy!). Kafenio is specialized in Greek Mezze specialties which I didn’t appreciate much except for the pork-based dish. As for Morias, it was an international buffet dinner and a delicious one. Their wine (1827) is quite good by the way.

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We also had the chance to visit a traditional home in the town of Pylos and learn from local women how to cook authentic family recipes. It was a fun experience followed by a full dinner and then a Zorba dance outside the house. Needless to say, the local women and my friends were mind-blown by my dancing (and cooking) skills.

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Attractions & Things To Do:
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As I stated earlier, the resort has two golf courses and we had the chance to visit one of them and try to hit some golf balls. It was much harder than I thought it would be, considering I’ve only played mini-golf in real life and golf on Nintendo Wii. We had an experienced player teaching us how to hold the golf club and make the swing and I got the hang of it after 10 or 15 tries. It was a fun experience and I want to give it another try at the Beirut Golf Club since I was told you don’t need a special membership to get in.

Aside from playing golf, we were taken on a boat trip to explore the gorgeous Messinian coast aboard a sailing boat. It was a 4 hours long trip but it felt like a 20 minutes one as I enjoyed every single bit of it. The ride was smooth, the beaches and coves were quite incredible and we enjoyed a good swim in the middle of the sea. Sadly enough, I was chatting with one of the crew members who told me that hundreds of illegal migrants arrived to Pylos aboard a tiny boat last week thinking they were going to Italy. Apparently, Greece has received over a million immigrants in the past couple of years.

As far as touristic sites are concerned, there’s an old medieval castle (Niokastro) in Pylos worth visiting as it overlooks the whole Ionian sea where the famous naval Battle of Navarino took place. You can take some amazing shots from up there. Moreover, there’s a small beach (Voldokilia) that a lot of people visit for some reason even though there’s nothing special about it (except that there’s a spot for nudists there but I didn’t see any).

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The verdict:

The Westin Resort is a dream resort located on a sandy Ionian coastline and surrounded by beautiful landscapes. You will find a bit of history in everything around you while experiencing luxury and relaxation. If you are looking for a peaceful weekend getaway or a fun weekend with the family, this is the ideal place to go. The boat trip is highly recommended, the golf experience is worth trying but the best thing you can do is just sit back, relax and enjoy the view from your balcony or just wander around the resort and enjoy the beach.

It’s the ultimate place to wake up on a Friday morning but I don’t recommend you come back on a Monday because it will take you a couple of days to get back in a work mode.

For those of you who are interested in visiting this resort this summer, Wild Discovery has all the information you need [here]. Costa Navarino is part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts and we flew Aegean Airlines.

PS: On a side note, what made this trip even better were the other media members, mainly Rami who’s a great guy and a funny one (even though he overslept and was late on two occasions), dreamy and charming Pascale, my new crazy friend Vanessa, fellow blogger and friend Daniella who’s always fun to hang out with, and of course our awesome guide and my good friend Johnny.

Summer Season Is Looking Good So Far For Lebanon

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The number of passengers during the first four months of 2015 reached a record high of 1,969,222 passengers and showed an increase of almost 10% when compared to the same period last year. Similarly, Lebanon’s hotels (four and five stars) witnessed an increase in occupancy from 42% last year to almost 54% this year according to an Ernst & Young study. Doha, Madina, Abu Dhabi and Dubai all ranked higher with an occupancy rate of over 75%. As far as room rates are concerned, the average room rate in Beirut rose from $163 in 2014 to $173 this year, vs $303 in Dubai and $227 in Abu Dhabi. I wish they added a breakdown by nationalities to see if we are getting more Arab tourists this year or not.

In all cases, summer is looking good so let’s keep our fingers crossed that everything will stay calm inside Lebanon and on the borders.

Bankaudi

Check out the full report [here].

An Amazing HQ Lebanon Video From The 1960s

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If you are like old pictures and videos of Lebanon, then Kheireddine El-Ahdab is the man to follow. He always shares the most amazing old videos and pictures of Beirut and Lebanon and his latest is this amazing 5-minute high quality video shot in Beirut and Lebanon in the 1960s. The video is from the AP archives and was taken from the movie 24 hours to kill.

You can easily spot the old Beirut airport, Phoenicia hotel, Excelsior and St George hotel, the Casino du Liban and other landmarks. Check out the video [here].

Phoenicia Phoenicia hotel.

ST george Fashion trends back then.

stgeorge1 The famous St Georges hotel and bay

jj Berdwani in Zahle

swin and ski Swim and ski in the same day.

souks Jewelry souks

jagalna Wearing sunglasses at nightclubs is still a trend

Casino Casino du Liban

Week26: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Ghbeleh Dream house in Ghbeleh – Keserwan

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

Common fest Common Fest – by Sarine

Jump Jump! By Chris Kabalan

Lebanon Batroun – by Dany

paragliding Paragliding over the Jounieh bay – By Petko

Qartaba Camping by the river – by Bachrouchali

Saida sea castle Saida sea castle – by Burjir

Week24: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Nahr Ibrahim Nahr Ibrahim by NajibHajjar

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

Nino Colors of sunset – by Ninofenianos

Rio Jesus Keserwan not Rio – by MichoKhoury

Souks elephant Warming up for AUB Outdoors – by PolSamuel at The Beirut Souks

Thirsty Thirsty? By Shoufreserve

Tyr Hidden gem in the South – by Mounir

Lebanon And North Korea Passports Have The Same Ranking

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According to Passport Index.org, Lebanon and North Korea have a passport power rank of 73, which means that you can visit 44 countries without a visa using these passports. Cambodia and Gabon also share the same score. In terms of Arab countries, UAE is on top with 72 visa free countries while Lebanon has the worst ranking which doesn’t sound right specially when Syria is still ahead of us.

Here’s the full list of Arab countries with their corresponding ranking:
47– United Arab Emirates (72 visa free countries)
52– Qatar (66 visa free countries)
54– Kuwait (64 visa free countries)
57– Saudi Arabia (61 visa free countries)
61– Bahrain (61 visa free countries)
63- Oman (54 visa free countries)
64– Egypt (53 visa free countries)
68- Jordan (49 visa free countries)
69- Syria (48 visa free countries)
73– Lebanon (44 visa free countries)

The US topped the list worldwide, followed by United Kingdom, France, South Korea and Germany.

PS: The Henley & Partners Visa Restriction Index shows the Lebanese Passport in the 88th position (out of 93).

via 248am