A Visit To The Beirut River

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I contacted Animals Lebanon last week to see if they have any updates regarding the Beirut River crocodile and to ask them if we can visit the site and help them search for the crocodile. I was told that there’s usually someone there between 10 and 12 everyday and that anyone can pass by. Also and more importantly, I was informed that there are two crocodiles and not just one and that the second one is twice the size of the first.

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So I took my brother and headed on Thursday morning to the Beirut River. The first spot that I went to was the one right before the slaughter house next to the U-Turn that takes you back on the Hazmieh highway. The two pictures shown above are from that spot but I didn’t find any crocodiles there. There were 3 men looking as well for them but with no luck. I asked them if there’s another spot to look at and they told me to go inside the slaughter house and head towards the end where they once spotted one of them.

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I went inside the area where the slaughter house is located and there was no one at the door. As soon as I got to the second spot, I opened the door to go down and almost fainted from the smell. I always wondered why people are not visiting the crocodile site and thought they were scared of them, but believe me the smells are scarier than the crocodiles.

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The place is polluted beyond belief and the sad part is that I found people living there. I am not sure if they work at the slaughter house or are refugees from Syria (as I found a lot of Anti-Assad slogans on the walls) but no one should live in such a shit hole.

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As far as the crocodiles are concerned, I spent a good half hour but didn’t find anything. The water is dirty and I am sure toxic as well and I honestly don’t envy the teams from Animals Lebanon and the Civil Defense for having to go there everyday.

I think the Minister of Environment should make an extra effort and provide the necessary for the local teams and maybe get a team of experts to locate the crocodiles ASAP and take them out of this river before it’s too late.

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On a last note, It would be nice if the concerned parties do something about the slaughterhouse and the other surrounding buildings by at least monitoring who goes in and out and cleaning it up because I am confident the place violates every hygiene standard out there.

Roadster Still The Best Diner In Lebanon!

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Roadster’s Latest addition to their menu – The Route 66 Burger

I was reading NoGarlicNoOnion’s latest post “Dear Roadster: Wake UP and Smell the Competition!” and felt compelled to answer some of the stuff mentioned in the post because I’ve been a Roadster customer for over 10 years now and I can easily say no diner comes close to Roadster in terms of cleanliness, customer service, delivery service and of course taste.

I’ve had some very rare bad experiences with Roadster, but it’s wrong and ridiculous to claim that they need to up their game due to one or two isolated incidents, specially when you look at their competitors.

Here’s what came in the post and my answers:

I ordered some food to the office today – they forgot the dips as well as the packs containing the forks and knives. I am at the office… how did they expect me to eat my salad? Use my hands? No salt, no wet wipes and the chewing-gum, forget about those, they stopped putting them in the paper bags a long time ago, although the word Clorets is still stamped on them.

I’ve been ordering food from Roadster for the past 7 years, and in the past 3 months 2 or 3 times a week and I only had one issue lately with a missing salad sauce once (They brought it back within 15 minutes) and not more than 5 issues throughout the years. I have a friend who orders Roadster almost daily to work along with a bunch of his colleagues and always praised their punctuality and service.

They once had an issue with the Delivery Center in Beirut due to high demand (which we reported) and they fixed it by setting up 7 lines or more I don’t remember. They have an impeccable delivery service and I am sure most Roadster customers agree with me.

As far as the visit to Zalka Branch is concerned:

The place is too noisy. I mean really noisy. Clinging sounds of forks and knives echoing all over the place, intertwined with a wave of customers’ voices topped with loud annoying music.

All Roadster branches are crowded on weekends, and I am sure they were even more crowded during the holidays. Loud music is almost always put on during weekends and on Friday nights as well. There’s nothing new here as a lot of teenagers and kids go to Roadster in the weekend or during the summer when there’s no school.

Too many waiters and honestly for nothing. Each one throws the responsibility on the other. We would ask one waiter for one thing he would go and ask another and then another… This incident repeated itself several times that night…

I always thought Roadster Zalka needed more waiters.

Service is extremely slow. It took waiters an extremely long time to deliver the drinks, and refills, we each had to ask at least three times to remind them of our drinks…

Just like any crowded restaurant, specially if you guys went during the weekend or holidays, service is a bit slower but despite that, I’ve rarely experienced slowness in the service at Roadster. It could have been a hectic day that’s all.

The food has changed. Honestly! Not to the better, but to the worse… Mozzarella sticks which used to come all in one size now come in different sizes, most of which are small. The nachos looked really poor. Hardly any cheese on the plate and chips were too little for the plate… empty spaces all over the place. The chicken strips, well, there was hair inside so we stopped there… the Cesar salad’s lettuce was yellowish… The fries are much less than the usual. A lot of orders came late, some ate while others watched…

I am not sure how frequently you guys to Roadster but nothing has changed in the food. I regularly go to the Jounieh Branch during week days, and on Saturdays for lunch to the Downtown Branch, as well as the Zalka branch and ABC branches from time to time and food is still as good as always.

The music played was heavy rock. I mean please, I am not that old… but seriously the whole ambiance was very annoying. I asked the waiter to lower the volume or change the music several times with no luck. This type of music does not fit the place… It’s excruciating… to say the least.

Again this is not something new and that’s why I avoid going to Roadster on Friday or Saturday night because it’s packed with youngsters and you can’t really blame Roadster for that.

Let me just add here that one of the very few restaurants that actually take into consideration your comments is Roadster and being a very picky customer myself, I never had a negative feedback following one of my complaints. On the contrary, they once even bothered to explain why they replaced their regular forks with tiny ones after I posted about it and then brought back the regular forks. Moreover, they also improved their buns after few complaints from loyal customers, among other things.

Social Media wise, the are more engaged than any other business and it showed in the latest Social Media Awards where they clinched two awards even though Crepaway was a sponsor of the event.

On a last note, I am not saying Roadster is the perfect diner but they’ve been more consistent than any other diner in Lebanon, and they’re known for being the cleanest diner in town as well. That’s why people are ready to pay the extra buck to go there.

What happened to “Together Forever”

Together Forever goes both ways. You can’t dump Roadster and rate the place with a 15 over 100 due to two isolated incidents after being a loyal customer for more than 10 years.

Lebanon Overall Winner at Pan-Homenetmen Games

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Mabrouk to the Lebanese Armenian team!

The 9th Pan-Homenetmen games, which had brought together 650 athletes from 17 countries, concluded yesterday, Aug. 3, with the Homenetmen of Lebanon winning the overall title.

Homenetmen Lebanon secured the overall title by winning the chess, ping-pong, and track and field competitions; securing second place in the girls’ basketball tournament; and winning third place in soccer, boys’ basketball, and women’s basketball. [Armenian Weekly]

Review: Mercedes-Benz A250 Sport

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When Mercedes introduced the A-class back in 1998, I have to admit I wasn’t really impressed with the models released. The car wasn’t attractive at all (Not even the sports model) and you couldn’t tell if it’s a mini family car or a car for the younger generation, specially that it wasn’t affordable at all.

The original model was revamped and enhanced a few times since then but Mercedes realized a couple of years back that it needs to reshape the whole thing and the end product was a beauty and undeniably one of the hottest hatchbacks in the market at the moment.

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Design & Style

The most noticeable feature in the new A class is that the upright short body from the old model was dropped and replaced by a longer and wider one. The huge front headlights, with the red metallic inserts in the bottom middle, give the car an aggressive and sexy look and the central Mercedes star in the middle of a diamond-grille make things even better. In fact, it’s almost as good as the new SL Class front which is my favorite Mercedes series.

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The back is always a tricky part in a hatch and the A250’s rear goes along with the rest of the car in my opinion. The rear headlights, the contour lines on the sides give the car a dynamic shape. It should be noted here that the A250 model which I drove is equipped with an AMG exterior and interior sports package, and looks very different from the standard A200 model.

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The AMG package includes red accents in both bumpers, fire-red brake calipers, twin oval tailpipes, thick coupe-like C-pillars, a lower suspension and 5-spoke, 18-inch lightweight AMG alloy wheels shod with fat 235/40 R18 tires—all.

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Interior

The red accent gives the interior the sporty look the car needs, from the floor mats, the sports seats to to the red seat belts (loved those!), the circular air vents and the leather-wrapped steering wheel. The front seats are comfortable, but the back seats lack head room due to the panoramic sunroof and leg room.

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I didn’t appreciate though the LED display in the middle. It looks out of place and resembles old digital frames with the thick borders.

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On The Road

While the AMG sports package makes the A250 model look hotter and its drive a lot more fun, this is not a car you’d want to drive on a daily basis to work or use for long trips. The reason for that is that the rides are bumpy, specially with Lebanon’s roads, and the passengers as well as the driver might get a bit uncomfortable. Of course that’s the case for most sports car not just the Mercedes, so I would advise to go for the A200 model if you’re planning to use this car as your everyday car. If not, then you can either go for the A250 or wait for the A45 AMG to come out.

As far as the handling is concerned, the car feels great on the highway and turns, and the acceleration is quite impressive. If you want to have some more fun, you can always switch to Sports mode but watch out as the A250 in S mode is really quick and you could easily reach 160kph without noticing. For those who like a loud engine, don’t expect much from the A250.

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The gear box is located behind the wheel and I loved how it takes one click to switch to Park. However, I still can’t get used to the small Hand Brake Button that most new cars now have. The A250 has a 2.0 litres petrol engine with a 211 horsepower. You need 6.6 seconds to get from 0 100 kph.

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All in all, driving a Mercedes always feels different than other cars and the A250 is no exception. Of course it doesn’t come at a cheap price (Around 40,000$) but it is definitely much cheaper than more luxurious Mercedes models. In fact, it feels like they joined all the qualities of a bigger more expensive Mercedes into a compact car.

To sum it up, the A250 Sport is a beautiful, stylish and quick car that comes with everything that you’d expect from a German-Engineered vehicle. Add to that the AMG specs and you have one of the coolest hatchbacks today.

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Open Sushi at Ichiban

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Pay extra for starred items, not all sashimis are included, get charged for leftovers and extra ginger. So much for open Sushi.

I have to admit though the sushi is good there, but a bit too pricey. I paid 100,000 LL for 2 soft drinks and 24 pieces.

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Pool Parties in Lebanon

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Pool Party? Picture via Beiruting

I have nothing against going to the pool on weekends just to relax, have a drink and listen to good music, but the fact that there’s a DJ doesn’t make it a pool or a beach party. I look at these albums of “pool parties” at Riviera or Edde Sands and many other resorts and all I see are almost empty pools, people sitting having a drink, or couples and groups posing for pictures.

Here are pictures from a pool party at Edde Sands, one at Cyan and some other pictures from the Wettest Pool Parties.

I am not expecting something similar to a Las Vegas pool party like in the picture below, but at least see pictures of people actually dancing and partying.

It looks like we’ve reached a new laziness level in Lebanon.

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Las Vegas Pool Party

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Sausage Fest not a Hot Party – via BeirutNightLife

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Couple kissing and posing: Picture from Riviera – via Beiruting