Category Archives: Travel

CNTraveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2014: Beirut Among The Top 25 Cities in the World

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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.​

Salon Du Chocolat Beirut

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neuhaus-pralines Neuhaus Praline from Le Salon Du Chocolat – Brussels

The first edition of the Salon Du Chocolat Beirut will be held between the 6th and 8th of November 2014 at Biel along with the 4th Beirut Cooking Festival. It’s an event fully dedicated to chocolate where you will learn how to incorporate chocolate into any recipe. One of the best chocolate places I’ve ever visited was Fassbender & Rausch in Berlin last year where they mix chocolate with almost everything, including salads, chicken and even soups, so I will be looking forward to such recipes at the Salon Du Chocolat.

You can check out more info about the Salon Du Chocolat [Here].

Tawlet Ammiq: Great Location, Amazing Food But A Dull Venue

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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]

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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.

ammiq 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.

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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.

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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.

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20140914_133152 Fwerigh

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The dessert buffet was also rich and delicious, and I enjoyed most the Achta Knefe and fruit salad.

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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.

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CNN: Exploring The Secrets Of Beirut

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Secrets of Beirut

We need hours and hours to explore the hidden gems of our beloved city Beirut. I hope to see more of these videos.

Check it out [Here] and what Zawarib is all about [Here].

Throughout our #CTWLiveFrom tour across the Middle East we’ve been keen to show you the unknown sides of the cities we’ve visited through the eyes of those who live there and know them best. Bahi Ghubril was our ideal candidate in the Lebanese capital Beirut. He’s the publisher of the city’s first street atlas, Zawarib, and has been exploring the hidden gems of the city for years.

Lebanese Jalal Al Abani Is Cycling From Germany To Lebanon

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Jalal is a Lebanese student who’s attempting to cycle about 3000km through eight countries in a period of two months. He started his journey from Regensburg in Germany a couple of weeks ago and has entered the fifth country Romania as of yesterday. He will be taking a ferry from Turkey to Tripoli in Lebanon due to the situation in Syria.

That’s a pretty fun ride! I hope he gets home safely. You can follow updates on his Facebook page [Here].

Another Lebanese called Gloria Nasr ran from Paris to Lebanon last year.

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Reviewing Hotels In Lebanon

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I think hotels are a great way to get away from the monotony and routine of everyday life. The getaway helps you relax, meet new people and get to know new areas that you wouldn’t necessarily get the chance to visit. On several occasions over the past years, I’ve spent weekends at some of Lebanon’s nicest hotels such as Phoenicia, Four Seasons, Le Gray, Mzaar Intercontinental, Mir Amin Palace, Monte Cassino and others.

Over the coming months and as part of a “Discover Lebanon” segment I am working on, I will be posting detailed reviews of the rooms, service, facilities and the experience as a whole. In addition, I want to provide a glimpse into the surrounding regions, must see attractions, etc.

So make sure you look out for my reviews!

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Lebanon Tightening Regulations on Foreign NGO Workers

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Mohammed-el-Amine-Mosque-in-Beirut-Lebanon Picture Via LayoverGuide

Foreign NGO workers should indeed apply for a different type of VISA if they are not coming here as tourists, but things should be made easy for them as they are here on a humanitarian mission and are helping us out at the end of the day.

Read the full article on the Economist [Here].

New rules now require foreigners engaged in humanitarian work to obtain visas before entering the country rather than alter them once there as used to be the case. Agencies have been instructed to inform the security agency of all foreigners working in their offices, including staff, volunteers, interns, and people visiting Lebanon for training or meetings. Officials have begun visiting NGO offices asking them to comply with the new regulations—or risk their staff being deported.

NGOs say that they want to obey the law, but that the process of obtaining a visa is unpredictable and cumbersome. It costs thousands of dollars, requires much paperwork, and takes months. Smaller organisations say the burden is too much. “If they want me to pay, I don’t mind. Just give me the documents,” says Kris, a founder of a non-profit hostel in Beirut who was recently deported. Kris submitted his residency and work permit applications in December but six months later he was told to leave Lebanon and escorted by security officers to the gate for his flight. [Economist]

Canadian Government Stripped A Lebanese Family of Their Canadian Citizenships And Fined Them $63,000

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I am almost done with my immigration papers for Canada yet I’ve never considered cheating or going there just for few days then lying about my stay. If the Canadian government is welcoming us and offering us new opportunities, it’s not an excuse to steal their money and lie to them to get the citizenship.

Apparently the Canadian authorities identified more than 3,000 citizens and 5,000 permanent residents under suspicion in ongoing large-scale fraud investigations, and I am pretty sure there are a lot of Lebanese families among them.

Ottawa has stripped a Lebanese family of their Canadian citizenships — and handed them a $63,000 bill — after they were caught blatantly lying about living in Canada, part of a government crackdown on bogus citizens that could extend to thousands of cases. The family — a father, mother and their two daughters — signed citizenship forms claiming they lived in Canada for almost all of the previous four years when they really lived in the United Arab Emirates, a fact even posted online in the daughters’ public résumés on LinkedIn.

The bold nature of the fabrications — that successfully won them citizenship in 2008 and 2009 — and their attempts to fight Ottawa’s decision brought rebuke from both the government and the Federal Court of Canada: not only have their citizenships been revoked, but they have been ordered to pay all of the government’s $63,442 in legal bills.

It is a punishment historically associated with only the most egregious cases, usually accused Nazi war criminals who hid their involvement in atrocities when fleeing to Canada after the Second World War. This case is only the beginning. The RCMP has targeted about 11,000 people from more than 100 countries suspected of fraud by misrepresenting their residency in Canada. [Link]