Category Archives: Travel

Week18: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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above the clouds Above The Clouds in Baskinta – by AnthonyFleyhan

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

bree2 Drinking water the Lebanese way – by Karliseverywhere

cedars Generations come and go, cedars are here to stay – by Lina Hassoun

Qaraoun Hard to believe but this is in Lebanon – Qaraoun by Areej

Rmeil Rmeil street art by Dihzahyners – Picture by Catkhoury

summer Bye bye winter – Picture by Elio

teleferique Teleferique ride never gets old – Picture by Polsamuel

Week17: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Ammik You can find these in Lebanon in case you didn’t know – Taken in Ammik by SergeSaliba

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

Bouez From the top – by Charbel Bouez

Kartaba Janit Kartaba – by Rami

Sheikh Mout Sheikh and Bekaa Valley – By SergeGaspar

snow water Golden sunset – By Republicofsnowboarding

Zahle Zahle – by Wassim Said

mar mikhael I love these stairs! By d3lph1ne

Off To Barcelona!

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I’m on my way to Barcelona to attend the Samsung #Unpacked event and the Mobile World Congress #MWC2015. Samsung has invited me to the exclusive launch of their new Samsung Galaxy S6 so I will be live tweeting from both events and sharing pictures and posts on my Instagram and Facebook page. I will also be enjoying Barcelona and sharing my experience there. For those interested in following, here are my users and FB page:

Twitter: @LeNajib
Instagram: LeNajib
Facebook: BlogBaladi
Snapchat: LeNajib

If you have any questions or any requests from both events, do share.

PS: I honestly still can’t figure out why I should be using Snapchat but I am giving it a third try.

Samsung or iPhone? Which Is Better?

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What do you think I should get? A Samsung or an iPhone? What about the LG did you try it? is the HTC any good? All these are questions I get asked most of the time by friends and family members specially when a new smartphone is expected to come out soon. While I never pretended to be a smartphone expert, I love with experimenting with phones in general and I’ve been doing that for the past 15 years or so. My first phone was an Ericsson then I switched to the Siemens SL45 which was one of the most advanced phones at the time, then I carried Nokia phones for quite some time before switching to a Sony Ericsson for a short while. My first smartphone was the iPhone and I fell in love with it back then but as soon as Android phones started coming out, I ditched my iPhone4 and got the Samsung Note2. I then switched to the Samsung S3, Galaxy Note 3 then the S4, tried to get used to the Windows Lumia phones but couldn’t, gave the Blackberry Q5 a try but it didn’t work out, then I got the S5 and I’m currently using the Samsung S5 and LG G3. I carried the iPhone 6 for a short while but then I decided to switch to the new Samsung Galaxy S6 once it comes out.

The reason why I didn’t switch to the iPhone 6 again is not because I didn’t like it or don’t appreciate Apple products, but because the Samsung Galaxy series and Android phones in general are much more convenient for me. I am neither an Android nor an Apple fanatic and I will always go for the technology that makes my life easier and that I can afford. This being said, here are the four features that I look for when choosing a smartphone and that helped me favor Android phones over the iPhone.

Operating System, Software & Performance:
I’ve always had Windows laptops and desktops at home and at work and I tried getting used to Macbooks but I couldn’t, so this whole Apple experience (iPad, Mac, iPhone) is not something I am familiar with and I hated working with iTunes just to sync few songs or images. Moreover, the internet was pretty bad before and is still not that good nowadays, so downloading all these huge updates (even for the iTunes and apps on the Apple Store) was a real pain for me. I remember it took me a week once to upgrade my iPhone because of the internet connection. Even nowadays, it’s a nightmare whenever I have to update the whole family’s iPads and iPhones and I usually end up wasting my 4G quota to do so. I don’t know if there’s an easier way to manage these updates and software upgrades specially with the lousy internet, but I thought it was much easier with Android and I love the fact that I could just plug my phone in a laptop and use it as a storage device without iTunes. Backing up to the cloud or Dropbox is also not a practical solution for me as the DSL connection is not reliable and I’d waste my 4G quota in no time specially that I am a heavy smartphone user.

In terms of performance, I think most of the top rated smartphones nowadays are good and only getting better. The LG G3 I’m currently using is super fast, the iPhone 6 is even better and the upcoming Samsung S6 will use an ultra-fast processor, the Exynos 7 Octa. Sadly enough, the Windows Lumia phones were real quick but the OS was a nightmare. As for the software, the iOS still looks nicer and cleaner than the Android and doesn’t have all these useless features that only slow down your phone but I feel comfortable using both.

Camera:
I’m not a photographer but I love taking pictures and I even bought an SLR at some point and learned a few things to enhance my photography skills. However, it’s not really practical to carry your SLR to all the events you’re invited to, so a phone’s camera is really important to me specially with Instagram nowadays. Before the iPhone 6 came out, my favorite camera was the Samsung S5 one and the best camera I’ve ever used was with the Windows Lumia 1020 one. I never enjoyed the Galaxy Note cameras for some reason, so I am anxiously waiting to see how good the Samsung Galaxy S6 camera will be. Rumors so far are saying it will be a 16MP (or 20MP?) Sony-made IMX240 sensor.

Storage:
This is probably one of the key reasons why I’ll always opt for an Android smartphone over an iPhone. I am a heavy smartphone user and I take a lot of pictures and videos in high res so storage is crucial to me. Moreover, I refuse to pay $150 or $200 extra just to get the iPhone 64GB instead of the 16GB while I could buy a 32GB microSD for as little as 30$. Some may argue that you can backup everything to the cloud nowadays but as I said earlier, this is not an option when you have a lousy internet connection and a limited 4G plan, and it’s not an excuse for Apple not to offer an SD card slot.

s1 The 16GB of pictures were taken during the past 5 months only.

Battery life:
I think everyone suffers from this problem and the only solution is to buy a decent portable charger, or a bigger phone (phablet) like the Note4, the LG G4 or the iPhone 6 Plus. I recently bought the Anker Astro E5 2-Port 1500mAH Portable Charger and it’s a life-saver specially during events, road trips or while traveling. I heard that the new Samsung Galaxy S6 will have a smaller battery but a better performing one than the S5 given its ultra-slim design but it won’t really make a difference when you are tweeting, instagraming, posting on FB, browsing and checking emails, and chatting on 4G for 2 or 3 continuous hours. To be honest, I’m not familiar with the technology associated with smartphones batteries but it’s quite surprising that they didn’t figure out a way to make better batteries.

PS: I found by mistake an article today on a new technology that will triple your battery life.

Final Verdict:
As I stated earlier, there’s no such thing as the best smartphone out there. If you are a loyal Apple user, you’ll find it easier to use the iPhone while some Windows users don’t like iOS and would rather get Android. A lot of people don’t like iPhone’s limitations while others don’t like Android’s bloatware and appreciate the minimalist and clean Apple approach. I personally wouldn’t go for the iPhone 6 for all the reasons I mentioned above and will probably switch to the new Samsung Galaxy S6 once it’s out. Since Samsung has invited me to their exclusive #Unpacked event in Barcelona, I will give you a sneak peek preview on the S6 once I get to try it out. I know the HTC M9 is coming out as well but I’ve never used an HTC before for no specific reason so I don’t know much about it.

Moreover, I will be at the MWC 2015 from March 2nd till March 5th checking out all the new smartphones and technologies being released, so stay tuned as I will keep you posted of everything happening there!

Week16: LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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zaitunay Zaitunay bay covered in white – Pic by MohammedAjlabi

I think we can all agree that we’ve had enough of storms this year. I can’t wait for summer to come at last! You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram [Here]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [Here] if you like.

Broumanna White Broummana – by ToniSamia

harissa Harissa covered in white – by Dina

Saint Pierre & Paul That’s the church where I got married – Beautiful picture by RoyElMir

Snow and sea Sea and Snow – By Paul

windy landing Landing with Windy – Pic by RogerGaspar

I’m Flying To Barcelona For Samsung’s #Unpacked Event & MWC 2015

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I am traveling next Saturday to Barcelona to attend Samsung’s #Unpacked event where the much anticipated new Galaxy S6 will be released. The event will take place right before the Mobile World Congress (MWC 2015) which is happening between March 2 and March 5.

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I’ve been following news and rumors about the new Samsung Galaxy S6 and it looks like a huge step forward from the rather disappointing Samsung S5. The ultra-slim 5.1″ S6 will come with a Quad HD screen and will use an ultra-fast processor, the Exynos 7 Octa. The battery may be smaller than the S5 one (due to the ultra-sim design) but this won’t necessarily mean less battery life and Samsung will finally drop the plastic build with this new one which is great news! Moreover, a variant of the S6, the Samsung S6 Edge should also be announced and will feature a curved screen on the side. This is quite an interesting feature which was launched with the Note 4 Edge and that I’m looking forward to try out.

[YouTube]

There’s still the camera which is rumored to be either a 16MP Sony-made IMX240 sensor or a 20MP one. Knowing that the S4 and the S5 had the best cameras when they came out, I don’t expect less from the new Samsung Galaxy S6. In all cases, I will be there at the #Unpacked event live tweeting and covering so follow me @LeNajib and let me know if you have any questions. My friends from AbsoluteGeeks and @AndroidBasha were also invited by Samsung and will be there so this promises to be a lot of fun!

On a last note, please drop any tips or hints on places to go in Barcelona if you’ve been there.

MEA Airline Tickets Did Not Drop By 50%

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I saved a couple of articles I had read yesterday about MEA’s airline tickets dropping by 50% but when I woke up this morning to read the details, one of them had vanished and the other’s title had changed. I looked up a bit more and found Lea Fayad’s report which was much clearer and stated that the airline tickets dropped on average by 7% only. What was reduced by 50% is the cost of the fuel surcharge, which constitutes 14% of the ticket price.

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The screenshot shown at the start and taken from LBCI’s report shows how much prices have dropped for specific countries like Ghana, Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Paris, London and Nigeria. The biggest drop is for Ghana and Nigeria by $100 but these numbers are not really significant as MEA should have made a small table showing prices before and after and how they compare to the average ticket price. My friend who lives in Ghana told me he usually pays $1000 for his ticket but I couldn’t even simulate the ticket price on the MEA website to know if it changed or not.

To sum things up, it’s always a good thing when ticket prices drop but my friends always complain that MEA prices are more expensive than other airlines, so it would be interesting to know where how the new MEA prices compare to others as I assume all airlines reduced their prices because of the fuel price drop.

[YouTube]

Beirut Among The 50 Unpredictable And Non-Clichéd Places To Travel To In Your 20s

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Beirut made it on EliteDaily’s List of The 50 Unpredictable And Non-Clichéd Places To Travel To In Your 20s and I actually agree on their description of Beirut as being a “great place to eat, explore and party”. Beirut is a great city to visit if you are in your 20s as you could rent a small apartment or stay at a cheap motel in Mar Mikhael, Hamra or Gemayze, explore the city during the day, enjoy the great food we have to offer and party and have fun at night.

I honestly believe Beirut totally belongs (in a non-cliché way) in this list. Check it out [Here].

The hidden gems of the world are becoming hot spots for tourists — so all the more reason to visit these places sooner rather than later.

There’s no better time to travel to these places than when you’re in your 20s. As we get older, the comfort and ease of guided tours becomes increasingly appealing, so explore the world now while you still have the energy.

The world’s greatest cities aren’t going anywhere; you have your entire life to visit them. Why not go to places where you can be your own tourist?

Why Beirut Was Once Known As ‘The Paris Of The Middle East’

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The Business Insider published a nice article two days ago explaining why “Beirut Was Once Known As The Paris Of The Middle East”. They used photos taken by Charles W. Cushman, an avid traveler and amateur photographer who visited Beirut in its golden years. I am familiar with Cushman’s pictures as he had stayed at the famous Excelsior hotel which I researched and posted about earlier this year but I think the author should have looked for better pictures to highlight Beirut’s golden years. Most of Cushman’s pictures were of random people in the street and not of Beirut’s nightlife and extravagant lifestyle that led people to compare it back then to the French capital.

Funnily enough, one of the pictures show a merchant selling Kaak on the street but the author thought they were croissants, hence the comparison to Paris. As we all know, Kaak is a street food that’s very cheap and affordable to all, unlike the croissant.

croissan

I will try to collect some old pictures from the 1960s and compile them in a nice post to show why Beirut was truly ‘The Paris Of The Middle East’. You can check out all of Cushman’s pictures [here] and my post on the famous Excelsior hotel that was visited by Iran’s Shah [here].

Beirut experienced a renaissance of sorts in the mid-20th century.

Following World War II, the Lebanese capital became a tourist destination and financial capital, nicknamed “the Paris of the Middle East” thanks to its French influences and vibrant cultural and intellectual life.

That changed when civil war broke out in 1975, ravaging the city. Beirut has been rebuilt in the decades since (despite occasional violence), and is one again becoming a popular place for travelers.

Charles W. Cushman, an avid traveler and amateur photographer, visited Beirut in its heyday in 1965 and captured some stunning photos of everyday life in the city. These photos are being shared with permission from the Indiana University Archives.

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