Category Archives: Travel

UAE Could Become First Arab Country Whose Citizens Are Exempt From Schengen Visa


Correction: It is not clear whether the vote was to consider UAE’s admission to the list of countries exempted from Schenghen or allowing them once and for all to travel to EU without a Schenghen. That’s why I corrected and added “Could Be” until I clarify this matter. From what I understood from this [article], there are still technicalities that need to be sorted out before UAE citizens can travel without using a Schenghen.

Every time I think of traveling to Europe, the thought of getting all the papers and setting an interview for the Schengen depresses me. I want to think Lebanon will join UAE one day but that’s not gonna happen in this lifetime, even though our passport is one of the best in the world according to the General Security (Ma hek?).

Congrats to the UAE and UAE Citizens!

The Civil Liberties Committee at the European Parliament (EP) has unanimously endorsed a proposal to add the UAE to the list of countries whose nationals are exempt from the Schengen visa requirements.

UAE Ambassador to the European Union Sulaiman Al Mazrouei described the EP’s move as an achievement for the UAE diplomacy and a reflection of the country’s strong ties with the EU.

“If implemented, the Schengen visa waiver would ease travel of the UAE citizens to the Schengen states. The UAE would be the first Arab country whose citizens are exempt from Schengen visa,” said Al Mazrouei. “Today’s vote is a huge step towards finalising legislative requirements and moving to negotiations and subsequent waiver implementation,” he added. [Source]

CNN Travel: Beirut Among the World’s Top Cities

Downtown Beirut by Michaelallangrant, on Flickr

Condé Nast Traveler announced the winners of its 26th annual Readers’ Choice Awards two days ago and Beirut made it as one of the World’s best cities. It’s quite surprising to be honest to see Beirut on that list, specially after the past two years we had and the ongoing Syrian war. Let’s hope things will get better in Lebanon this year so we could improve on that ranking.

You can check out the full list [Here].

World’s best cities

The “Top 25 Cities in the World” list had refreshingly surprising additions and rankings — Paris came in at a lowly 22 while Bruges and Cape Town tied for 11th place.

Budapest and Florence tied for second, while the very top spot was seized by the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico, which took the crown from last year’s favorite of Charleston, South Carolina (which was tied for fifth this year).

Italy snapped up five of the top 25 cities, while Spain managed to take three.

Despite its slide in the global rankings, Charleston was still voted the top city in the United States for the third year in a row, for its “sand, sun, history, good food and friendly people.”

via Gino

Lebanese Passport Among The World’s Worst Passports For Travel


According to the 2013 Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index, Lebanon is among the worst countries in the world when it comes to freedom of travel and visa restrictions. So not only no one wants to come to Lebanon these days, but it’s a hassle for Lebanese to go anywhere lol!

You can read more about these results [Here]

List [High-Res]

Niederegger Marzipan Torte


I was looking in one my bags today and found a Marzipan Torte that I brought back with me from Julius Meinl shop in Vienna. I love Marzipan and the stuff I found in that shop are so much better than the Marzipan (Marssaben) done here in Lebanon.

The one in the picture has Kirsch in it and is so freaking delicious it made me regret not getting a bitter portion back! I am very tempted to order it online but the shipping cost will be probably higher than the Torte’s price. Meinl sells it online as well as Niederegger.

I am going to check first at Stop & Shop, O&C and TSC Signature to see if they sell them.


Seventeen Lebanese housewives cooked lunch for 600 of the top chefs and foodies in the world

Khobez wou Milih (Souk El Tayeb @ MAD Symposium 2013)

That’s a pretty cool story.

Seventeen Lebanese housewives, united by the work that they do at Souk El Tayeb and Tawlet, were invited to cook lunch for 600 of the top chefs and foodies in the world during the annual food event of MAD Symposium in Copenhagen.

Thanks Pascale!

Balade dans la «vallée des saints»


I just finished reading a nice article on Bcharré and the Kadisha valley prepared by Thomas Abgrall on Surprisingly enough, he asks at the end if it’s still safe to visit Lebanon nowadays and answers that while few areas remain risky, others like Kadisha are safe and can be visited.

This is unfortunately yet another opportunity the Lebanese Ministry Of Tourism didn’t grasp. While major cities like Beirut and Tripoli might be risky at the moment, remote areas like Bcharre, Zghorta, Ehden, Beiteddine, Deir el Amar and many others could have become touristic destinations. Having a second airport in the North would have greatly helped as well.

C’est du village de Bcharré, d’où est originaire le poète Khalil Gibran – célèbre pour son essai Le Prophète –, que démarre notre voyage dans la Kadisha, la «vallée des saints» libanaise. Bcharré, avec ses toits en tuile rouge et son double clocher, se trouve perché sur un plateau qui surplombe la «cuvette» de la Kadisha, une faille rocheuse au milieu de laquelle passe une vallée dont le fragile fil directeur est une rivière qui serpente entre les arbres.

De Bcharré, à flanc de falaise, une route en lacets descend dans la plaine. Les points de vue sont à couper le souffle, quelques grappes de végétation s’accrochent à la roche abrupte – ocre et grise – qui laisse transparaître des cascades. Des dizaines de grottes naturelles se sont formées au fil des millénaires, parfois très difficiles d’accès (à plus de 1000 m d’altitude), ce qui a fait de la vallée un lieu de refuge naturel pour les communautés de la région, en particulier les premières communautés chrétiennes, les maronites, qui représentent encore aujourd’hui environ 20 à 25% de la population libanaise.

Peut-on encore visiter le Liban sans risque? Même si certaines zones restent déconseillées – en particulier celles proches de la frontière syrienne –, certaines régions, en particulier chrétiennes (comme la vallée de la Kadisha), sont encore tout à fait accessibles et ne présentent aucun risque majeur, surtout si l’on fait appel à des agences.

Villa Clara: Beirut With a French Accent


A new guesthouse in Mar Mikhail has been featured in the New York Times. Villa Clara Villa is located on Khenchara Street, Mar Mikhael and is a “charming, affordable guesthouse filled with French antiques”. I should pay this place a visit soon and try out the light summer menu.

The tiny boutique hotel, its restaurant and guest rooms stocked with Parisian antiques, opened last year around the corner from an Asterix chicken shack and across the street from its neighborhood boucherie. But this was not Marseille or Lyon, it was the eastern edge of Beirut.

“A Frenchman can easily live in Beirut without feeling displaced,” said Mr. Gougeon, who moved to the Lebanese capital from Paris in 1999, as he sipped local wine in Villa Clara’s leafy backyard after cooking a dinner of crispy-skinned duck confit and old-fashioned île flottante.

For more than a century, through all manner of turmoil, including a 15-year civil war and, more recently, ongoing conflict in neighboring Syria, a distinctly French character has pervaded the city. Much of it is the legacy of the French colonial period — the mandate that lasted from 1920 to 1943 — but a cultural kinship goes back much further than that.

I had come to Beirut to see just how much French influence remains, and discovered an East-West blend more complex and layered than ever. Having left the country for France during particularly troubled times, many affluent Beirutis have returned, bringing with them cravings for Parisian life. A younger generation, meanwhile, has embraced a new hybrid culture — a French, Anglo and Arabic stew — evident in shops and restaurants and trilingual discussions across the city. [NewYorkTimes]

This place is ideal for travelers who are visiting Beirut for few days or a weekend. Rooms are available at $165 with breakfast. You can check out more details on their website [].


PS: The recommendations for hotels and restaurants mentioned at the article at the end don’t go really with Villa Clara as the hotels are the most expensive in town (Add Four Seasons Hotel to that list) and the restaurants listed are everything but affordable.

Cyprus Airways & Air France modify their flights to Beirut


It’s a good thing no one cancelled their trips yet. Speaking of airports, no decisions were taken yet to open the Kleiat airport as an alternative to Rafic Hariri’s.

Cyprus Airways:
Effective Thursday, the 8:30 p.m. flight out of Larnaca had been moved to 5:30 a.m. to avoid an overnight stay in Beirut. The Cypriot national carrier flies from Larnaca to Beirut, a 30-minute flight away, once a day, six days a week.
“The company has decided to reschedule its flights because of the current situation,” a spokesman for the company told Reuters. [Reuters]

Air France:
Air France has modified the timing of one of its two daily return flights between Paris and Beirut, as the spectre grows of possible western military intervention in Syria, an airline spokeswoman said on Thursday. [Reuters]