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 [www.villaclara.fr].
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.
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.
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 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]
The sad part is that the “idiots” the author is talking about are still way too many in Lebanon. You can read the full article [Here].
Sri Lanka is a nationality, not a profession. This should be clear to everyone. However, in Lebanon, the situation is different. A “Sri Lankan,” here, could be from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, or the Philippines. The identity has become a synonym for domestic service workers. In Lebanon, it’s normal to hear someone asking her friend, “Which country is your ‘Sri Lankan’ from?” The question is full of ignorance, even hatred and irrational racism, pointing to a feeling of Lebanese superiority toward the people of Sri Lanka.
Those who ask it are ignorant that there is a full-fledged country called Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon and, in ancient times, Serendipity. It has a civilization which goes further back in time, ages before Christ. Yet the people who live there are reduced by some idiots here to the status of “servant.” Some are unaware that their favorite tea was grown, manufactured, and made famous by that people.
In fact, the issue goes beyond domestic workers. The moniker “Sri Lankan” in Lebanon refers to anything considered “lower.” One often hears Lebanese comparing a woman to a Sri Lankan, as a form of denigration.
Picture from the 80s night at B018 – Tribute to Michael Jackson
If Lebanon is truly paying the price of Syria’s war, then why is there traffic everywhere I go? Why is traffic increasing on a daily basis from Beirut to Jbeil? Why are all the nightclubs and rooftops packed from Wednesday to Sunday? Why are the beaches packed on weekends?
I know that numbers suggest that Lebanon’s economy is suffering, Arab tourists are not coming and tourism is bad but it honestly doesn’t feel that way wherever I am going lately. This makes me wonder how bad traffic would be if all these tourists were here.
“As soon as you even utter the word ‘weapons’ you’ve killed tourism,” Paul Achkar, head of the Lebanese hotel association, told AFP. “Three hundred tourism establishments have closed down since the start of the year,” he said.
Although confident that the industry will recover, Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud said the figures for the start of the season were pitiable.
“The occupancy rate at hotels in Beirut is barely 35 percent this month, half of the usual at this time of year.
“Outside Beirut, it’s catastrophic. We’re talking about five percent compared to the usual 35 percent,” Abboud told AFP.
The atmosphere in Beirut, dubbed party capital of the Middle East, is not so morose, and Christian areas such as Byblos or Jounieh have also fared better than other areas. [AFP]
Russell Brand’s ‘Messiah Complex’ Tour was cancelled in The Middle East after organizers told him they could not guarantee his safety. He was coming to Abu Dhabi and Lebanon.
Russell has been pounding the pavement pretty hard to promote his upcoming “Messiah Complex” tour. Sadly, news just came down the pike that Rusty has had to cancel some dates in the Middle East (primarily Abu Dhabi and Lebanon) because he’s had some credible theats upon his life; and the venues have informed him that the could not guarantee his safety in the event that these threats were taken to fruition. Rusty believes his tour poster might have something to do with the threats, but who knows. It’s difficult to make sense out of people who make death threats.
The tour focuses on icons including Che Guevara, Gandhi, Malcolm X and Jesus, and examines “the importance of heroes in this age of atheistic disposability.
In case you missed it, check out this latest video of Russell Brand mocking the media:
Every time the summer is here, we are reminded that the beaches in Lebanon are becoming for the rich and that the entrance fees to beaches and pools are even more expensive that the previous year, yet somehow we have new resorts opening every year and the beaches are getting more and more packed.
We know for a fact that people are not getting wealthier in Lebanon, so it’s either people are willing to spend a big portion of their salaries to go for a swim or the numbers are exaggerated. I think that while entrance fees are unbelievably high at certain resorts, there are a lot of cheaper alternatives and free beaches that few of us know of.
However, this doesn’t justify the outrageous prices that we have to pay for beaches that are illegally occupied and exploited. The numbers are scary and there doesn’t seem to be a proper way to resolve this issue except setting up high taxes on these properties and forcing their owners to pay substantial amounts of money to cover our debts (Or in Lebanon’s case, go into some of the politicians’ pockets who will reinvest them in some of these illegal beach resorts they “own”).
Many Lebanese are fed up with this reality but that’s one of these issues in Lebanon that is very hard to tackle as there are way too many parties involved.
The ministry estimates the total area of intrusions in this region to be more than 2,247,884 square meters (m²). They include 1,651,707 m² of reclaimed sea, and land facilities taking up to 162,383 m². Mount Lebanon’s share of aggressions totals half that of the country’s coastline. [Link]