I made it to Beirut last evening and I am already in love! As the plane was landing the lovely Lebanese people on the plane clapped for our arrival, just like I had heard they would. Shouldn’t everyone be that excited to land in Beirut??
My taxi driver was awaiting my arrival at the airport and we began our journey to Hamra, the area of the city where I stayed for my first night. This is a vibrant area of the city, with many shops, restaurants, and people of all sorts of backgrounds.
After I arrived at my hotel, I was immediately greeted by an incredibly friendly staff. Ali, the doorman was so welcoming, and I had a great time conversing with everyone as they welcomed me to their country. Even with my minimal ability to speak Arabic I have had no problem getting around, as most people here speak Arabic, French, and English.
After I got unpacked and settled, I decided it was time to get some dinner. I walked down to the hotel lobby and asked where I should go to get some shawarma. I was immediately told head to Barbar in Hamra. I began walking and immediately felt at home, hearing Arabic everywhere, seeing street signs in multiple languages, and Lebanese food everywhere. My Favorite!!
I ordered a shawarma sandwich and a ‘Bebsi’ (there is no ‘P’ in the Arabic alphabet), the place was super busy, and had multiple store fronts for the different food offerings they have. They had a dessert shop, pizza place, sandwich spot, juice bar, and a small snack area. I grabbed my food and headed back to the hotel to relax and enjoy my food and the sunset.
After some amazing sleep, I decided to get out and see one of the most iconic places in Beirut, Al-Rouche, the Pigeon Rocks. Before I made it there, I stopped at a local cell shop, and got myself a SIM card for use while in the country, this was pretty easy and now I have data and voice access while in Lebanon, however slow it might be. The walk to Raouche allowed me to see all sorts of buildings, neighborhoods, and people. Old buildings, shops, and neighborhoods were bustling with locals getting their daily chores accomplished.
The closer I made it to the Mediterranean the newer and nicer the buildings became. Huge luxury condos and hotels line the streets facing the sea. Once I arrived at Al-Raouche, it was even more beautiful than I had imagined it would be. I did not expect the rock formation to be as large as it is, it jumps up out of the Mediterranean Sea in all its glory.
I kept walking down the Corniche, and found everyone to be enjoying a quiet Sunday morning on the Mediterranean. People out for a stroll, jogging, or just enjoying the sandy beaches and warm water.
After a long walk it was time for some food. I, of course, could not resist a nice Shish Tawook sandwich, it’s going to be hard not having this food around all the time. It was nice to get inside and enjoy some air conditioning, this Seattle guy is not used to the heat!
I made my way back to the hotel and found some shade outside where I am writing to you now. It’s been a struggle uploading pictures here with the slow internet connections, but I am doing my best! Today I will be headed to Harissa in Mt. Lebanon where I will be meeting up with the other participants in Back to Roots Lebanon, 2015 edition. I am so ready to meet everyone and get our exciting trip started, this will be a life changing two weeks.
Hope you all are enjoying the pictures, I’ll do my best to keep the posts and pictures coming, but I am sure to become busier as the trip gets going here over the next few days. Take care! Masalameh!