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A publication of Hospitality Services in a joint venture with Beyond Beirut Group Editor Nouhad Dammous Managing Director Joumana Dammous-Salamé Editor Lisa Jerejian Publication Manager Zeina Dammous-Nahas Graphic Designer Ibrahim Kastoun Project and Sales Manager Maha Khoury-Hasbani Sales team Randa Dammous-Pharaon, Josette Hikri-Nohra, Elise Koukou-Salem, Gaelle Rbeiz, Mabelle Zgheib Writer Yasmine Beydoun Publication Coordinator Rita Ghantous Subscription Coordinators Houayda Haddad-Rouman, Mirna Maroun Circulation Coordinator Rita Nohra Kejijian Production and Printing 53dots
Published by Hospitality Services s.a.r.l. Burghol Building, Dekwaneh, Lebanon P.O.Box 90 155 Jdeidet el Metn 1202 2020 To advertise call 01 480081 or fax 01 482876 We welcome views on any relevant subject. The editor reserves the right to select and edit letters. Please e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org All the information disclosed in the magazine was provided by the parties concerned by each publication and checked to the highest possible extent by the editors. However, the magazine cannot ensure accuracy at all times of all information published and therefore could in no case be held responsible should any information reveal to be false or insufficient.
Cover photo by Rachelle Zahran Rachelle is a Lebanese graphic designer. She has always been interested in capturing people and beautiful landscapes through her lens, like this photo she took at Damour Beach. Follow her on Watercolor.design Watercolorlb@gmail.com
West Bekaa. Photo: Peter Ghanime
Summer Lovin' Summertime in Lebanon is nothing short of magical. It’s the season that many of us yearn for, with the promise of fun-filled days on the shore and chilled out weekends in the mountains. The vibrant color of lush green valleys is balanced by warm tones of sun-kissed beaches. It is often at this time of the year that we welcome back family and friends who have missed Lebanon and who’ve counted down the days to spending their precious holidays here. What really makes Lebanon special during these warm months is the myriad of events and activities on offer around the country, from star-studded music festivals to awesome food events. We've gone all out to cram everything in this issue so you can plan your entire summer. We scoured the coast to show you the best places for a cold beer under the sun, and where to go for the coolest beach parties. We also checked out budget getaways in the north and south of Lebanon for some peace and quiet, and explored Lebanon’s rivers and caves. In Beirut, we wandered around ten art galleries perfect for admiring local and international talent and escaping the heat. We also sampled the latest bars and restaurants in the capital. We know how important it is to stay ahead of the city's epic nightlife. And if all that wasn’t enough, we introduced a whole new guides section, giving you day and weekend trip ideas to a selection of towns across the country. With tips on what to do, where to eat and where to stay, all you need to do is pack. Let Lebanon Traveler be your companion this summer and embrace this incredible country. We all know there is nowhere on earth quite like it!
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CONTENTS 52 46
08 News roundup
What's been happening in Lebanon
12 LT loves
Great souvenir ideas
14 Design in Lebanon
Beirut's first free design school
Cool art galleries in the capital
20 Hot topic
The country's best beaches
24 On the couch with
Actor and director Georges Khabbaz
28 Hidden gems
Six rivers to explore
32 Focus on
48 Culinary heritage
36 Outdoor action
51 Mini guides
38 The great escape
40 Readerâ€™s experience
64 Socially responsible Lebanon
42 Behind the scenes
66 New openings
44 Customs & traditions
70 On the trail
46 Religious tourism
Five things to do in Baskinta Lebanon's spectacular caves A unique glimpse of the Ammiq Wetland Radio star Gavin Ford
B 018: Lebanon's most famous nightclub The artisans keeping age-old traditions alive Our Lady of Ilige
Mouajanat: regional specialties Discover Lebanon's most popular destinations Festivals and events not to miss this summer Supporting the art of weaving
The newest restaurants and bars around town A tour through Byblos' old souk Weekend trips for under $100
74 Best beds
Charming Lebanese guesthouses
76 LT abroad
Short breaks to Serbia and Armenia
78 Top tips
Mazen Kiwan on tango in Lebanon
CONTRIBUTORS Mark Aoun
Mark is the president of ecotourism provider Vamos Todos. He started hiking at the age of 14, when he discovered the importance of preserving Lebanon’s green areas. He confesses to being a nature addict. vamos-todos.com
Hailing from Austria, Lucia’s heart beats (among other things) for Lebanon. She has been a keen writer and storyteller from early childhood and now hopes to contribute to a constant rediscovery of Lebanon by the world, adding her personal perspective.
Ralph is the founder and CEO of Amber Consulting, a firm specialized in hospitality consulting. He enjoys traveling, discovering new destinations and cultures, and understanding upcoming trends in the market. amber-consulting.com
Ghada has explored many caves in Lebanon during her 17 years with ALES, a non-profit association studying and preserving caves in Lebanon, where she served as a former president. Her greatest passion is nature. alesliban.org
Alice is a woman dedicated to reviving the livelihood of craftsmen. Among her many activities, she actively engages with NGOs via creative channels and brings people together to support the economy of Byblos. aliceedde.com
Nour has a PhD, and is a religious anthropologist and researcher, managing her own travel consultant company NEOS. She is author of “Eco-Lebanon: Nature & Rural Tourism” and “Wiz Kids” guidebooks. neoslb.com
With a background in nutrition, food heritage and tourism, Zeinab developed Darb el Karam, the first food tourism trail in Lebanon, a main program of the Food Heritage Foundation. She is project manager at the LMTA. food-heritage.org, lebanontrail.org
Asdghik is the founder of “The Jetsetter Diaries,” a travel blog featuring luxurious getaways and adventure trips. Despite traveling around the world, Lebanon will always be her home. thejetsetterdiaries lebanontraveler.com
Elsa is a passionate conservationist, scholar and teacher. She strives to share the value of nature and the importance of reconnecting with it through the interpretation of places and spaces. elsasattout.com
Jubran is a multi-disciplinary designer, with a broad experience in branding, digital, and experience design. When he's not freelancing, he's busy making Beirut brighter, with his team Dihzahyners at "Paint Up." jubranelias
Always on road trips, in search of beautiful destinations, Peter is an avid photograpaher. He enjoys to capture his beloved Lebanon through the lens and share his snapshots with the world. peterghanime
Antonio’s passion for photography has encouraged him to show the beauty of his homeland through shots of nature, authentic villages, historical sites and abandoned places. antoniohab
Ibrahim is a graphic designer, who is a passionate painter and photographer. He is inspired by wildlife, and spends his free time capturing macro shots around Lebanon. His favorite spot is Baskinta. bob.kastoun
relax Mรถvenpick Hotel Beirut is the ultimate destination for business and leisure. Our fully equipped meeting facilities and exquisite sea view rooms are sure to meet your needs. A unique getaway is best enjoyed by swimming in our outdoor Olympic pool, enjoying a relaxing massage, and savouring an exceptional gastronomic experience.
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EDITOR’S PICKS BIKE SHARING IN BEIRUT
A new bike sharing initiative was launched this year in Beirut to combat the longstanding issue of the city’s lack of public transportation. The project, organized by Bike 4 All, Beirut by Bike and the Municipality of Beirut, unveiled the first station in Downtown (near Le Gray) in January. The aim is to promote a cleaner capital by introducing 500 bikes by 2020.
LE CORDON BLEU OPENS IN LEBANON
The largest global network of culinary and hospitality schools, Le Cordon Bleu, has opened its doors at the brand new BURJ on BAY Hotel in Tabarja. The world famous French institute for cooking occupies two floors at the property, where students will receive a first-class culinary education. Lebanon now joins more than twenty countries to have a Le Cordon Bleu school, and is the first in the world to have the institute in a hotel.
THE GARDEN SHOW & SPRING FESTIVAL RETURNS TO BEIRUT
The Garden Show & Spring Festival celebrated its 14th edition at Beirut Hippodrome, from May 23-27, under the theme “Colors in the Garden.” More than 24,000 visitors browsed a huge selection of plants, outdoor furniture, and garden equipment. The event also featured a food court and live entertainment. Travel Lebanon, held concurrently with The Garden Show, promoted the country’s best rural destinations, activities and adventures with 60 exhibitors. Visitors were able to watch artisans in action and participate in unique workshops.
REVIVING TYRE’S GOLDEN AGE OF CINEMA
Lebanese actor and director Kassem Istanbouli has kicked off works to renovate Tyre’s Rivoli Cinema, with aims to turn it into a cultural space for the city. The theater, which has been abandoned for more than 30 years, was known for screening high quality films and was an icon in Tyre from 1959 to 1988. Istanbouli plans to accommodate 500 people after restoration is complete. lebanontraveler.com
TOMORROWLAND LIVE STREAMING IN BYBLOS
For the first time in history, the internationally renowned Tomorrowland Music Festival is coming to Lebanon. With the help of UNITE, the concert will be streamed live to screens at La Plage Des Rois in Byblos on July 29. Only nine countries were chosen for the special streaming, proving once again that the Lebanese know how to party!
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APARTHOTEL OFFERING THE HOSPITALITY AND CHARM OF A BOUTIQUE HOTEL
WITH THE WELL-BEING AND COMFORT OF HOME.
#MYKEYTOBEIRUT Strategically located in the museum district of Beirut, THE KEY ApartHotel caters to a variety of exclusive lifestyles and contemporary needs, offering a unique standard of accommodation.The ambiance offers a relaxing environment that creates a dialogue within the lively environment. THE KEY was designed to cater for short and extended travel for both family and corporate guests all year round. Our 87 spacious and stylish apartments are mindfully designed to provide our guests with the intimacy and luxury necessary for a memorable and pleasurable stay. The ultimate goal is for guests to feel connected to the city while also feeling serene in their immediate surroundings.
Our restaurant caters to a variety of tastes and plates, offering delectable options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The contemporary dining area extends onto a private urban terrace, open year-round. Need a few items for an imprompt dinner for friends? In the mood for quick treat before bed? Do not fret, THE KEY’s on-site “Neighbourhood” convenience store provides daily basics and necessities. The fitness center is fully equipped with the latest in cardio and resistance machines and features a complete line of free weights. We provide a complimentary service to and from designated areas within Beirut upon availability of THE KEY car. Guests can also enjoy gratis bicycles around the clock. Secure underground parking is available for guests with personal transportation. In addition, our in-house event coordinator is available to plan, organize and direct corporate events and conferences.
OUR STAFF IS REACHABLE 24/7 by phone: +961 1 42 42 47 and e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not hesitate to contact us with additional questions or inquiries. thekeybeirut.com
12 LT LOVES
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with l ve Feeling nostalgic? Here are some practical souvenirs, guaranteed to keep Lebanon close to your heart
LOUFA SOAP POUCH
Handmade by artisans in Lebanon, Prilou creates delicately designed jewelry. This 18k white gold bracelet will ensure you take Lebanon with you wherever you go. 240,000 LBP (160 USD) at Prilou (70 909354, prilou_jewelry)
This hand-crocheted cotton pouch, made by students, holds a subtle mixture of olive oil soap chips pressed by hand. The two straps make it convenient to use under the shower, and refills are available. 20,000 LBP (13 USD) at AliceEddé (09 943023, aliceedde)
BEIRUT POSTCARD BEADED BAG
Inspired by vintage postcards, this roomy clutch features pictures of Lebanese landmarks highlighting our beautiful country’s golden past. It's the perfect statement piece for women of style! 330,000 LBP (220 USD) at Sarah’s Bag (01 575585, sarahsbag.com, sarahsbag)
Inoui is a young label revisiting timeless apparel, with a modern Lebanese twist. Supporting local crafts, items are exclusively produced in Lebanon. Check out their signature his and hers T-shirts. 50,000 LBP (33 USD) at Inoui Beyrouth (inouibeyrouth.com, inoui.beyrouth)
SUMMER GIVEAWAY FABRIC KEYRINGS
These modern fabric keyrings are the perfect souvenir. Featuring symbolic figures and things you would only find in Lebanon, let your keys dangle from something funky and functional. 33,000 LBP each (22 USD) at Batenjeneh (01 570361, batenjeneh) lebanontraveler.com
We're giving away a selection of cool souvenirs from Lebanon throughout the summer, including these lovely items. Simply follow Lebanon Traveler on Facebook and Instagram for your chance to win. lebanontraveler
14 DESIGN IN LEBANON
From world-class designers to street style, Lebanon has earned an international reputation for pushing the fashion boundaries. Now, a new design school is offering a totally free fashion design education for Lebanonâ€™s emerging talent
Design by Fatima Nourelddine. Photo: Tarek Moukaddem
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Photo: George Rouhana
Sarah and Caroline. Photo: George Rouhana
Hazem Kais, Human Nature 2016
There is something special about the first floor of the Nazaretian Building in the artsy Mar Mikhael neighborhood. A group of passionate and skilled creatives are busy sketching and stitching under the watchful eyes of Sarah Hermez and Caroline Simonelli. “In order for design to be used as an effective tool for social progress, it needs to be inclusive, incorporating visions and voices from people of diverse backgrounds,” says Hermez, who in 2011 founded Creative Space Beirut with Simonelli, her former professor at New York’s prestigious Parsons School of Design. The duo decided early on that Beirut needed a free creative design school for individuals lacking the resources to pursue their studies at expensive fashion institutions, and established Creative Space Beirut.
The school offers a three-year program to its students, where they are mentored by a team of local and international designers and artists. Even the cost of their transportation and materials is covered. “After the initial three month pilot project, I was in awe at the raw talent and determination I saw in the students, and at what we were capable of with such little time and funding - and I was certain I wanted to keep going,” adds Hermez. The holistic curriculum adopted by Creative Space Beirut integrates technical skills, conceptual design, and real-life experience. Students collaborate with initiatives in the design world and the community at large, gaining experience and forging connections within the industry.
Design by Roni Helou. Photo: Tarek Moukaddem
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16 DESIGN IN LEBANON At the end of each year, the students’ designs are exhibited and sold at public exhibitions. To date, they have exhibited at prestigious venues, including Beirut Art Center, Bokja Design Studio, the Contemporary Art Platform, 4 Concept Store in Kuwait, and most recently, Dar El Nimer for Arts and Culture.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Last year, Creative Space Beirut graduated its first students, who are now closer to a successful career in the design industry. Fatima Nourelddine works at the luxury handbag design house, Sarah’s Bag.
In the costly world of design, fostering talent through free and equal opportunity education is what makes Creative Space Beirut really stand out. Surrounded by cuts of beautiful fabric, Hermez talks of her goals. “We are working towards growing into a free school for a variety of creative studies. Lebanon is full of talented people, who just need a helping hand in making their dreams a reality.”
Heba Nahle is currently completing a master’s degree in fashion systems at the Politecnico di Milano. Roni Helou is participating in Starch Foundation, a design incubator affiliated with renowned Lebanese designer Rabih Keyrouz. He showcased his first collection at Fashion Forward in Dubai and is working on his second collection, which will also be presented in Dubai. Aline Seukunian has been hired by Creative Space Beirut as a production manager for the ready to wear brand. She is also a mentor at the school. Design by Fatima Nourelddine. Photo: Tarek Moukaddem
Design by Roni Helou. Photo: George Rouhana
Design by Aline Seukunian. Photo: Tarek Moukaddem
Design by Heba Nahle. Photo: Tarek Moukaddem
BEIRUT ON CANVAS
Mark Hachem Gallery
Beirut has long played muse to artists that have been mesmerized by its resilience and infallible beauty. Take a wander around and you’ll soon discover the wealth and depth of art this town has to offer. LT takes a look at 10 art galleries to get you started
1. GALERIE TANIT
Mark Hachem Gallery
Walking into Galerie Tanit is like muting the bustling world outside and entering a space of total tranquility. With its high ceilings, white walls and open spaces, Galerie Tanit is exactly what you might imagine the chic galleries of New York City to look like. You can take your time to admire each stroke of the contemporary art pieces in its ethereal rooms. The gallery’s airy halls are scattered with sculptures and the artwork is truly spectacular, as would be expected from one of Beirut’s most famous art spaces. East Village Building, Armenia Street, Mar Mikhael, 01 562812, galerietanit.com
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4. ART ON 56TH
8. AYYAM GALLERY
5. JOY MARDINI DESIGN GALLERY
9. SFEIR-SEMLER GALLERY
The old Beirut building housing Art on 56th is a work of art in its own right. It is impossible not to notice the beautiful architecture, arched windows and tiled floors permeating the interior. The artwork hanging on the walls ranges in medium, from pencil to paint, clay to digital. From its architecture to its artwork, art enthusiasts and amateurs will fall in love with the unique feel of Art on 56th. Youssef Hayeck Street, Gemmayze, 01 570331, arton56th.com
Art on 56th
The Joy Mardini Design Gallery, formerly known as Art Factum, focuses on contemporary product design, as is evidenced by the modern and utilitarian pieces occupying the space. Everyday objects, including chairs, lamps and tables, are molded into new and exquisite forms. Consequently, the space feels more like a showroom than a typical gallery, making it an interesting addition to the art scene. Najem Bldg, 406 Gouraud Street, Gemmayze, 01 443263, jmdesigngallery.com
6. JANINE RUBEIZ GALLERY 2. EXODE
Located near Mar Mikhael is Exode, a friendly and intimate space that resembles a tasteful and well-decorated home. Immediately upon entering, visitors are met with a warm welcome and invited to take their time admiring the artwork hanging from the brightly-colored walls. Though the gallery itself is quite small, it boasts a large collection of contemporary pieces from local and international artists. Accaoui Street, Achrafieh, 01 336464, equipeexode.com
Tucked away in a narrow alley, ARTLAB is a cool and funky space, bringing young talent from the region to Beirut. Known for dabbling in new forms of expression and staying at the forefront of the evolving art scene, the gallery showcases intricate sculptures and paintings in a beautiful setting. Rmeil Building (first right after St. Nicholas Stairs), Gouraud Street, Gemmayze, 03 244577, art-lab.me
The Janine Rubeiz Gallery is a cozy gallery, rooted in the legacy of Dar El Fan, an art space run from the late ‘60s by Janine Rubeiz. Her daughter, Nadine Begdache, opened this space in 1993, with a focus on celebrating Lebanese artists and promoting their work at international art festivals and fairs. The gallery has become a leader in contemporary art in the region. Majdalani Building, 1 Avenue Charles de Gaulle, Raouche, 01 868290, galeriejaninerubeiz.com
Ayyam has been a pioneer in the art world since it opened its first gallery in 2006. Walking through the space today, visitors will immediately be impressed by the size and scope of the artwork hanging on the pristine white walls. Run by cousins Khaled and Hisham Samawi, it seeks to push the envelope in art collection and distribution internationally, supporting young talent within Lebanon. Beirut Tower, Zeitoune Street, Beirut, 01 374450, ayyamgallery.com Located in the industrial neighborhood of Karantina, Sfeir-Semler is at the cuttingedge of art galleries. Within the huge space, featuring cathedral-esque ceilings and multiple rooms, modern art pushes the boundaries, playing with light, film, performance and complex installations. For enthusiasts, the gallery is a must-see. Tannous Building, Karantina, 01 566550, sfeir-semler.com
10. AGIAL ART SPACE
Just a few steps from the American Univeristy of Beirut, Agial Art Space displays a spectrum of regional art, from internationally-celebrated artists to emerging local talent. The space is dimly lit and typical of any international art gallery, with a quiet tranquility that guides you away from the crowded and hectic street. 63 Abdul Aziz Street, Hamra, 01 345213, agialart.com
7. MARK HACHEM GALLERY
With 14 years’ experience working in the art world and in the galleries of Paris and New York, Mark Hachem was keen to bring his penchant for contemporary artwork to the Middle East. The gallery, Hachem’s latest, is one of the most eclectic and fun to explore in the city. Artwork ranges widely in form, from sculpture to photography and painting to drawing, often tackling topical issues. The gallery supports local artists and brings international talent for its exhibitions. Capital Gardens, Salloum Street, Minet El Hosn, 01 999313, markhachemgallery.com
Joy Mardini Design Gallery
20 HOT TOPIC
HIT THE BEACH With 210km of coastline, Lebanon is a haven for sun-worshippers. Amber Consultingâ€™s Ralph Nader provides the complete summer beach guide to help you find the perfect spot to tan
Tahet el Rih is a public beach in Anfeh, 68km north of Beirut. Known as the Mykonos of Lebanon, it bears the hallmarks of a typical Greek village, with charming white and blue colored chalets. If it were not for the Lebanese flags dotted along the seafront, you'd be fooled into thinking you were in another country! Despite the rocky shore and narrow space, the water is a beautiful shade of blue. Grab your beach bag and head to one of Anfehâ€™s restaurants, Chez Fouad (70 830117), 3al Ba7er (70 554417), Salim Sur Mer (03 330472), Paralia Bar (78 955811) or Istirahet el Khal (03 306585), to enjoy a delicious fish mezze and direct access to the sea. Joining (03 517492) is a hidden spot on the rocky shore of Batroun, which boasts a quaint seafood restaurant. Simple and welcoming, it is an ideal place for a tasty meal and a breathtaking view. Tahet el Rih
Cloud 59 (03 517996), one of the several simple public beach huts spread along the stunning sandy shore of Tyre (Sour), is the perfect place to take a dip and chill out with a cold drink.
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Located on Beirut’s famous Corniche, Madame Bleu (01 366222), formerly known as La Plage, is a luxurious yet simple urban swimming destination. Offering a variety of food options, Madame Bleu is designed to attract the city-life lovers, with its mid-century American style décor. The majestic Mediterranean view, coupled with the posh crowd, makes it a great place to soak up the sun in the capital. Accessed via a private underground walkway, the Riviera Beach Lounge (01 373210) is one of Beirut’s most popular beach clubs. If you’re after a fun and lively spot, you’ll love the weekend pool parties. The Saint Georges Yacht Club and Marina (03 958379) has been around for decades and remains a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Nestled in the prestigious Saint Georges Bay, visitors can sunbathe while admiring the incredible yachts just feet away. Located at the southern end of the Corniche, Sporting Club (01 742482) boasts a natural rock formation below the beach club and a magnificent view of the Mediterranean Sea. It is trendy, low-key, and a great option for a lazy day in the sun.
KIDS’ FUN Lazy B
Lazy B (70 950010) is a tranquil getaway in Jiyeh, a 30-minute drive south of Beirut. With three swimming pools, a sandy beach, natural creeks, Lebanese and Italian restaurants, and a playground area for kids, it is a perfect choice for families. Perched on the unspoiled shores of Batroun, White Beach (06 742505) attracts families, with its unique white rocky shore and crystal clear water. There are a number of watersports on offer too, including kayaking and windsurfing. Damour Beach Resort (76 883737) is a great and convenient option, just 20km from Beirut towards Saida. It features an incredible infinity pool, private huts suitable for families, and a kids’ playground. Set in Tyre, the Rest House (07 742000) is a secluded resort, with a vast sandy beach that stretches as far as the eye can see. Exotic coconut leaf parasols provide ample shade for families, and the overall feel of the place is calm and serene.
LUXURY RELAXATION & WELLNESS
The Mandaloun Beach Club (03 405060) may not have access to the sea, but it does boast a majestic swimming pool, a popular restaurant and upscale décor. Located in Dbayeh, just outside of Beirut, it’s a convenient choice to avoid the traffic reaching resorts further along the coast. Orchid Beach Resort (Jiyeh, 03 040420) and Orchid Beach Lounge (Batroun, 71 949404) completely redefine the traditional beach experience. For adults exclusively, Orchid is geared to those looking to relax and unwind in comfort. If you're searching for an extra dose of luxury, you'll love the bungalows, which come with their own private jacuzzis.
Pierre & Friends
Situated on Byblos’ sandy coastline, Eddésands Hotel and Wellness Resort (09 546666) is a sprawling upscale property that has been satisfying beach lovers since it opened. With its indoor and outdoor tropical spas, Eddésands is exotic in nature and unique in style. lebanontraveler.com
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22 HOT TOPIC
Iris Beach Club
BATROUN’S HIPSTER BEACH BARS
June (70 553399) is a new beach resort, which overlooks the glistening Mediterranean Sea from the top of a hill in Amchit. The venue hosts performances by young acoustic singers and bands on summer nights in a warm and familial atmosphere. Kaptn (78 988988) was the first beach, restaurant and bar on Batroun’s coastline. It was made unique thanks to its island, reached via a rocky passage from the shore. Located just next to Kaptn, the famed Pierre & Friends (03 352930) is known for its summer beach bar parties, where the crowd dances to the beat of Arabic, French, and oldies music. Ô-Glacée (06 741841) is the hippest beach bar in the area. With its ice-cold natural pool and crystal clear water, Ô-Glacée offers its easygoing guests a simple and chilled out experience, as well as access to kayaks and windsurfs.
DOG FRIENDLY DESTINATIONS
Jiyeh Beach officially allows dogs on weekdays and often on weekends too. The unpretentious beach has a clean sandy shore and friendly staff. Joining
Laid back yet quietly sophisticated, Iris Beach Club (71 533318) is an adults only resort in Damour. The resort has an outstanding infinity pool, cabanas, lounges, and private jacuzzis. In addition to hosting DJs during the day, Iris also collaborates with top entertainment companies like Uberhaus to organize sunset events, such as the famous “Electric Sundown.” An 18-plus resort in Byblos, C Flow (03 039703) has a large pool at its heart, with a bar overlooking the sea. Uptempo music plays all day long and several events take place there throughout the summer season. Head over on a Sunday for the regular beach party and dance the day away. Praia (03 806806) in Zouk Mosbeh welcomes its guests with two circular pools connected by an impressive internal bar. The venue hosts beach parties throughout the summer. lebanontraveler.com
Beach 45 (03 926614) in Rmeileh welcomes dogs on any day of the week. Its relatively large beach area will give you the priceless pleasure of running around with your furry friend. Other dog friendly beaches include Pierre & Friends and June. amber-consulting.com
TALK OF THE TOWN
The hottest topics of summer 2017 revolve around the opening of La Siesta in Khaldeh, and the rebranding of Cyan (renamed KOA) in Kaslik. La Siesta, which opens in June 2017, will be a beach resort with eco-friendly features and abundant green spaces. It will include beautiful chalets for seasonal or yearly rental, a ballroom for all kinds of events, an exquisite fish and Mediterranean restaurant, and a rooftop restaurant, not to mention one of the biggest swimming pools in the area. KOA will have a tropical theme and host special events all season.
L’élégance d’un Château
Visit our winery for a tour and a special wine tasting experience. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 9:00a.m till 4:00p.m. Kab-Elias, Bekaa Valley Tel: +961 8 500812 / 3 info@ChateauStThomas.com www.ChateauStThomas.com
24 ON THE COUCH WITH
Genuine and genius are two words that describe Georges Khabbaz perfectly. At just 40 years of age, the celebrated actor, writer, director and producer, has accomplished what many can only dream of. Elsa Yazbek Charabati takes time out with Khabbaz at the Backstage, where he is staging his latest play “Bel Kawalis”
YOUR PARENTS WERE BOTH ACTORS. HOW DID THAT AFFECT YOUR DECISION TO PURSUE FILM AND THEATER? It came genetically and in the air. Of course I took a lot from my parents, and the cultural atmosphere where I grew up had a great impact on me. My uncles from both sides were also musicians, as was my grandfather. This artistic atmosphere surrounded me and I consider it a blessing. Moreover, my dad had a huge library so I grew up with music and books. It helped me discover my talent early and develop it. YOU’VE DONE BOTH COMEDY AND DRAMATIC ACTING. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERENCE? I like both, but frankly speaking, in our region and in Lebanon in particular, we need happiness and joy. It has become a rare currency, especially “clean” joy, far from insults, sexual or political vulgarity. So I decided to go more into comedy, because through comedy we can also convey a patriotic, humanitarian, social message; a high level comedy built on real content. Anyway, I believe there is a thin line between drama and comedy. lebanontraveler.com
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I draw inspiration from Batroun’s infinite horizon
Photo: Dany Dabbagh
WHY DO MOST OF YOUR COMEDIES END SADLY? Actually, if you think of it, endings are always sad. The best parts are the beginnings. Endings are always about death or separation. You know, not all the ends of my plays are sad, but you can always find in them fear and preoccupation about what’s coming. I’m like this. I am anxious. I think life is not always fair.
real survivors. Going to the South for the shooting made me feel closer to other Lebanese that war had separated us from. It’s a nice movie; a scream against suffering and intolerance.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PLAY OR FILM YOU’VE WRITTEN OR BEEN PART OF? As a movie, I love “Ghadi” because it tells lots of stories and as a play, “Mich Mekhtelfin” that talks about a woman and a man from different religions who want to get married in a sectarian country. As for the series, I like one called “Abdo w Abdo” that I did for TV in 2003.
DO THEATER AND FILM MAKE YOU UNDERSTAND LEBANON DIFFERENTLY? Of course, it makes me understand humans differently and when you understand humans differently, you even understand yourself better. Theater is a daily education, which makes me dive into the depth of the human and more into the spiritual. It made me discover people are a mixture of sufferings, pains, constraints. When you live different roles, you understand others better.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WORK WITH PHILLIPE ARACTINGI IN “UNDER THE BOMBS”? It was a very nice experience. The shooting took place in South Lebanon during the war and I learned a lot. First, I met the southern people and I witnessed very touching moments. I’ll never forget this real scene: a balcony half-blown by a bomb where a family was sitting for lunch. It made realize that we, Lebanese, are
WHAT DID YOU DISCOVER ABOUT YOURSELF YOU DIDN’T KNOW? Lots of things! I used to think my only source of inspiration was my parents, my family, my region, my religion, but I discovered that it’s far deeper than this. You end up deeper and armed with more faith. I’m a believer, and a Christian. I accept others as they are. lebanontraveler.com
26 ON THE COUCH WITH
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WHAT ARE YOU FAVORITE LEBANESE FILMS? I like Nadine Labaki’s “Caramel” and Ziad Doueiri’s “West Beirut” and “Ghadi” because these movies have achieved the difficult challenge; being at the same time commercially popular and successful in international movie festivals. ARE YOU WORKING ON ANYTHING NEW? Yes, in September I’ll begin the shooting of my new movie with Gabriel Chamoun. WILL IT BE THE SAME LEVEL AS “GHADI”? Of course, always better, never going back. And I’m writing the next play and preparing the inauguration of a festival. DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE SPOTS IN LEBANON YOU WOULD RECOMMEND TO OUR READERS? All of Lebanon is beautiful, but my birthplace is my favorite spot. When I go to Batroun, my heart beats differently. The sea has a great impact on me. I grew up by the sea and our house is one minute away from the beach. The sea, with its infinite horizon, is very important to me.
FOR THE LAST 13 YEARS, YOU HAVE PRODUCED, DIRECTED AND STARRED IN 14 PLAYS, EACH ATTENDED BY AN AUDIENCE OF MORE THAN 100,000. WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR INSPIRATION FROM? Even though we’re playing “Bil Kawalis” right now, I’m already working on a new play. If the year had more than 12 months, I would have done even more: maybe three plays a year. We are a fertile ground for subjects and writing plays is not a job, it’s a need. I need to write, in order to express my obsessions, my problems, and my struggles. What better therapy? IS THERE A COMEDIAN OR AN ACTOR YOU’D LIKE TO WORK WITH? Duraid Lahham. We would both like to be in a play together. Physically, we look alike. Perhaps we can play father and son roles. I think it will be nice. We’ve been thinking about it for a long time.
I need to write in order to express my obsessions, my problems, and my struggles
SO IT’S FROM HERE THAT YOUR INFINITE INSPIRATION COMES? Definitely! I draw inspiration from Batroun’s infinite horizon. It is unique. DESCRIBE LEBANON IN THREE WORDS Three words? That’s so little for Lebanon! It’s like asking me to describe the woman of my life in three words! Well, Lebanon is a holy land, a spirit, a beautiful lady or a handsome man arousing jealousy.
28 HIDDEN GEMS
THE FLOW In Lebanon, more than twenty rivers run through deep gorges, reaching the sea or underground reservoirs. Biodiversity conservationist Elsa Sattout gets closer to the waterâ€™s edge to discover a whole host of gems along six of the countryâ€™s rivers
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Nahr El Jaouz
NAHR EL JAOUZ
The river runs the Qadisha Valley, stretching along the foothills of Mount Makmel in the northern governorate. Located 80km north of Beirut, the river originates from the Qadisha cave close to the Arz El Rab forest in Bcharre and meanders the deepest gorges of Lebanon. It can be accessed from Torza, Serâ€™el, Dimane and Hawka. Traditional farming is still practised on the foothills of the valley, which is famous for a number of old monasteries. Hike in the valley with a local guide to explore the Convent of the Virgin of Qannoubine, the Chapel of St. Marina, the Convent of Saint Anthony the Great and Mar Lichaa. Donâ€™t miss out on seeing the oldest printing press in the Middle East at the Convent of St. Anthony the Great.
Starting in Tannourine, 1,000 meters above sea level, the Nahr El Jaouz runs throughout Koura and Batroun. It meanders along riparian forests of Oriental plane trees and mixed forests of kermes oak, Judas tree, carob and broom. Highlights in the buffer zone of the river include the Citadel of El Mseilha and the Convent of the Virgin of Kaftoun. A number of restaurants, including Dar Sindianet (76 313708/03 385713) and Restaurant Nahr Jawz (03 876974), boast views of the gorge and river, with indoor and outdoor seating. Picnic spots can be found under the idyllic Oriental plane trees that border the river. Discover wheat mills and abandoned old houses dating back more than two centuries as you hike the trails along the riverbank at low altitude. In Bssatine El Essi, take some time to relax near the falls of Beit Chelalla.
Districts: Bcharre and Zgharta Length: 35km
Grab a snack at the cafeteria of the Qadisha convent or enjoy traditional Lebanese food at the numerous restaurants along the road in Hadtchit, Bcharre, Hasroun and Hadeth El Jebbeh. There are countless picnic areas lining the riverbanks in Qannoubine and in the Qadisha Valley, ideal for a chilled out lunch or barbecue.
Districts: Batroun and Koura Length: 38km
A variety of restaurants can be found in Bssatine El Essi, including Tawahine (03 602945), Challal (03 494376/06 780508) and Challal Nahr El Jaouz (02 289970). For something more low-key, head to the Tannourine Picnic Park (03 242597) or have a bite in Snack El Jisr (76 336383). lebanontraveler.com
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30 HIDDEN GEMS
NAHR EL KALB
The Ibrahim River, also known as the Adonis, stems from the Afqa Gorge. It starts its journey 1,500 meters above sea level and 71km north of Beirut, where the ruins of Aphrodite’s temple still stand. The waterfalls traverse sheer gorges and foothills, crossing Qartaba, Yahchouch and Janneh, ending up in estuaries in the town of Nahr Ibrahim on the coast. The pulsating echo of the rapid water through the narrow valley is nothing short of hypnotic.
Dog River, located 18km north of Beirut, boasts Egyptian hieroglyphic stelae, NeoAssyrian and Neo-Babylonian Cuneiforms (known as commemorative stelae of Nahr El Kalb) and Roman, Greek and Arabic inscriptions, which are preserved at the mouth of the river in Dbayeh. Discover remnants of French and Australian conquests along the river, while enjoying the scent of aromatic plants such as lavender, oregano and sage.
Hiking a trail on the steep foothills affords stunning vistas of abandoned terraces and old houses. Be sure to grab a picnic basket and make yourself comfortable at one of the scenic spots along the riverbank - La Rivière (70 859474), Jalset El Nahr (70 865599), Istirahet El Nahr (03 826847) or Montazah El Wadi (03 194352). Enjoy a dip in the oxbow lake in Janneh afterwards. If you are seeking a more relaxing journey, take the car and eat at one of the traditional restaurants in Bouar.
Local highlights include the famous Jeita Grotto, housing the world’s largest stalactites, and the monastery of Mar Abda Mochammar (Saint Abda the Guardian), which dates back to 1716.
District: Byblos Length: 23km
District: Keserwan Length: 31km
On the south facing slopes, the Jeita Grotto Restaurant (09 220841) offers Lebanese cuisine. In the southern buffer zone of the river in Zekrit, Nahr El Janna restaurant (04 930200/70 480511) serves Lebanese dishes and seafood, and Aal Sennara offers casual dining (04 930300).
EL AWALI District: Saida Length: 48km
A perennial river flowing in south Lebanon, the El Awali originates in the Barouk Mountain at 1,492 meters above sea level. Access the river from the Saida entrance to visit the Temple of Eshmun. Hikes and bike rides will introduce you to the traditional villages of Bisri, Joune and Mazra’et El Dahr among others. The area features remains of the Temple of Marj Bisri, the church of Saint Moses El Habchi, remains of Saint Sophia’s Monastery and Deir Saydet El Intikal (Monastery of Our Lady of Assumption), built in 1733 on the farmlands of Kashkaya. Do not miss the ruins of the castle of Lady Hester Stanhope (1773-1839) in Joune, Deir El Moukhalles (the Monastery of Saint Savior) and Deir Saydet El Bechara (Convent of the Lady of Annunciation). Nahr Qadisha
Eat at the Restaurant of Eshmun Valley (07 990428) or at Istirahat El A’ilat (03 411262) in the Bisri Valley.
Nahr El Kalb
NAHR DAMOUR District: Shouf Length: 38km
Fed by melting snow, which covers the Barouk Mountain during the winter, the river flows west through Jisr Al Qadi valley, then into the Shouf Mountains’ creeks. The river was named ‘Damoros’ by the Canaanites after the god of immortality, and in reference the beauty of the valley. Hike from Dmit and visit pottery craftsmen in Jisr El Qadi village. Enjoy the epic view of canyons and deep gorges and the colorful palette of Judas trees, storax and bay laurel. For a unique weekend experience, book a night at the EcoVillage in Dmit Valley (03 211463/03 381733) or at the Shanti 2 Tree House on the Damour River (airbnb.com).
Sohat, from the heart of the protected Falougha mountain, celebrates a Lebanon that still exists, in spite of everything.
32 FOCUS ON
The beautiful village of Baskinta in Mount Lebanon is a true Lebanese gem. Mark Aoun, president of ecotourism provider Vamos Todos, points out a few of highlights not to be missed
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Baskinta is a Syriac word meaning â€˜the house of wisdom.â€™ With Sannine to the east, Bakiche and Marj to the north and Zaarour to the south, Baskinta is a geographical fortress. Spanning an altitude of 1,250 to 1,800 meters above sea level, it is a village overflowing in natural resources and one whose unique beauty has made it a site of interest for lovers of the outdoors.
1. TRAVEL BACK IN TIME
Remnants of the past are prevalent in Baskinta, where one can find the ruins of monuments, cemeteries and numismatics dating back to the Phoenician, Roman, and Greek ages. The pillars and underground passages of huge palaces built by the Greeks can still be found in the middle of the village. The town also boasts a rich legacy of writers, including author and poet Mikhail Naimy. Together with Khalil Gibran and eight other writers, Naimy formed a movement for the rebirth of Arabic literature in New York at the early part of the 20th century. A mausoleum in his honor and that of George Ghanem, another celebrated author, can be found in the village. Visitors can also marvel at the old abandoned family house of writer Sleiman Kattaneh.
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34 FOCUS ON
2. EXPLORE THE SAYF EL DAWLA CAVE
Named after the Arab leader of the Hamadani state in 940 A.D., the majestic Sayf El Dawla Cave is visible from quite a distance. Although it is not well-equipped, expert climbers will certainly find it an interesting site to explore. If you are up for the challenge, be sure to take your gear along.
3. VISIT THE CONVENT OF OUR LADY OF THE ASSUMPTION (SAIDET EL BISHARA)
Completed in 1830, the convent is nothing short of a masterpiece. Built on a Roman temple, it is characterized by yellow petro stone and grandiose arcades. In some places, two or three arcades have been built on top of each other, a rarity in Lebanon. From there, continue to the monastery of St. Mitri, built in 1767.
4. ENJOY A PICNIC IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS
With oak and pine forests all around, Baskinta and Marj Baskinta are beautifully verdant, particularly during the summer. Head to Mount Sannine for the perfect picnic spot and enjoy the view of old stone houses and apple orchards. You can even try your hand at cherry and apple picking while you are in the area.
5. TAKE A HIKE
Baskinta is a popular destination among the hiking community. The literary trail of Baskinta, part of the Lebanon Mountain Trail, begins in Chakhroub and continues through the woods. Hikers will hear the calming sound of running water throughout the hike as Sannine’s melting snow creates countless streams. vamos-todos.com
Photos: Jubran Elias
WHERE TO EAT Somewhat of a local celebrity, Krikor (04 280293) welcomes you into his unique bakery, where he skillfully prepares the most delicious manakeesh. Try his signature bayd bkawarma for something different.
WHAT TO BUY Don’t leave Baskinta without picking up some homemade products. The Mar Sassine Monastery has some interesting items, including excellent honey and wine. Visit Mymouné (04 522403) in Ain El Abo for organic food items like jams, spices and syrups, and mouneh products.
PROMOTING WOMEN'S ECONOMIC STATUS IN SOUTH LEBANON Within the framework of the project "Promotion of the Economic Status of Women in South Lebanon" implemented by the Lebanon Family Planning Association for Development & Family Empowerment (LFPADE) and funded by the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality, 300 women from South Lebanon and the Tyre district are being trained to improve the quality of traditional home-made food staples (mouneh) and enhance their marketability. The project also encourages women to establish women cooperatives to promote their economic empowerement. The participating women at the garden show come from the two Tyre district villages of Abbassieh and Yannouh. From Yannouh, a group of women is working no establishing a women's cooperative, to market the products they produce from their homes. They are here selling pickles, jams, honey, dairy products, and olive oil. Joud Al Ared, based in Abbassieh, is made up of 14 women who use the produce of their region to produce zaatar, freekeh, olives, oil, and pickled vegetables. tel: 70-646895 â€“ email: email@example.com
LFPADE Lebanon Family Planning Association for Development & Family Empowerment Corniche El Mazraa- Al Maskan Building Tel: 01-311978 / 03426765 www.lfpa.org.lb firstname.lastname@example.org
36 OUTDOOR ACTION
DARKNESS We all know what Lebanon looks like from the outside, but what lurks below the surface? With a number of caves waiting to be explored, we got the lowdown from Ghada Salem, former president of the Association Libanaise d’Etudes Spéléologiques (ALES), on which caves to head to this summer
1. MABAJ, KHRAJ ALMAT - BYBLOS
The Mabaj cave was discovered in the early sixties. Although visitors can only access the first 192 meters of the cave, the cave passages have a variety of forms and textures. The entrance to this cave is a natural wide opening, offering easy access for visitors to start their adventure. How to get there: The cave is 19km from Byblos. Head towards Anaya St. Charbel, then continue in the direction of Almat, Tourzaya. How to arrange a visit: Call 03 056520/70 856974 or visit mabaj.com
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2. AIN OUZAIN, SHOUF
Interestingly, the Ain Ouzain cave was discovered in 2003 during the construction of a car park. Cave mapping unearthed a site of around 327 meters, 185 of which are open to tourists. The passages are just two meters wide and the caveâ€™s labyrinth system exposes a chalky marl formation of the upper cretaceous. Artificial lighting guides visitors and extends beyond the accessible section to show the continuation of the cave system. How to get there: The cave is 54km from Beirut. Take the road to Damour, then head towards Deir el Qamar. Follow the directions to Semqaniye and continue to Ain Ouzain village. How to arrange a visit: Call 03 619551
3. ZAHLAN, DANNIEH - AKKAR
Set in strata of calcium and dolomites, the Zahlan cave belongs to the late Jurassic period. It is divided into three sections; the current cave, a lower cave and a third cave at the bottom of the valley, where the Zahlan fountain gushes out. Visitors to Zahlan can explore a meandering cave rich in calcite formations (stalactites and stalagmites), which cover most of the walls and ceilings. How to get there: Take the road to Dannieh from Tripoli or Zgharta, all the way to Sir el Dannieh. From Sir El Dannieh, continue to Kattine village. How to arrange a visit: Call 70 322999
4. ROUIESS, MAJDEL AKOURA - BYBLOS
Discovered by Lebanese speleologists in 1955, the Rouiess cave boasts an underground river and around six kilometers of passages and chambers. The cave consists of three levels, each with its own unique characteristics. It is also home to the largest chamber in Lebanon after Jeita. The cave has a colony of bats, and with no artificial lighting or passages, visitors must be ready to take on full darkness, guided only by the light of their torches. How to get there: Head north out of Beirut towards Byblos. Once you have exited the highway, continue inland, following the direction of Laqlouq. From Lalouq you need to pass through Akoura in order to reach Majdel Akoura. How to arrange a visit: Call 03 128708
ABOUT ALES ALES is a non-profit organization, whose activities include the exploration and scientific study of natural caves. They further promote Lebanonâ€™s natural heritage through a variety of social activities and research projects. 03 849097, alesliban.org
38 THE GREAT ESCAPE
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AMMIQ WETLAND, WEST BEKAA
â€œThe Ammiq Wetland is a place I visit every year. The site is rich in its biodiversity and beautiful scenery. Walking through the greenery also brings serenity to the soul, which is illustrated in this photograph.â€? By Antonio Haber,
40 READERâ€™S EXPERIENCE
LEBANONâ€™S RADIO ROYAL
Radio One breakfast show host Gavin Ford is no stranger to Lebanon. Having spent the past 21 years on Lebanese airwaves, the British radio star has become something of a household name. We learn more about his love for the country lebanontraveler.com
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It’s 6 am and Gavin Ford is already in the Radio One studio in Beit Mery. His popular breakfast show “Gavin Ford in The Morning,” which he co-presents with Olga Habre, kicks off at seven, giving him enough time to sip on his coffee and talk about his experiences in the country. “I was working on a station in Ayia Napa and was paid terribly. I didn’t like Cyprus very much. Radio One could actually be heard from there and I was fascinated by this station, in an exciting sounding country called Lebanon, playing all the newest songs long before we could get them. I packed my bags and paid it a visit. Not known for my intelligence, I was expecting camels, and little white buildings with flat roofs. But when I got here, I felt very at home.” And home it has been for 21 years. After studying at the National Broadcasting School, Gavin worked on radio stations all over Europe. He also had a stint on board The Ross Revenge, a floating radio ship and Radio Caroline in the North Sea. It was in 1996 that he joined the team at Radio One Lebanon. When asked what has kept him here for so long, Gavin jokes that he has avoided being fired. “Radio stations always like to change their staff or they close down, so I was always losing my radio jobs. When you work in radio you’re like a nomad, never staying in one place for very long.” There is a likeability factor to Gavin. Despite presenting the highest earning show on Lebanese radio, he is down
to earth. He concedes that he would struggle to adapt to life elsewhere after over two decades in Lebanon. “When I spent five weeks in the French countryside in the early 2000s, I missed everything; the bars, the relaxed atmosphere, the beach, people with smiles on their faces.”
When you work in radio you’re like a nomad, never staying in one place for very long
GAVIN’S FAVORITES Lebanese dish: I love mouloukhiyeh, especially in the winter when its not often available on menus! On occasion, you can find it at some restaurants as a plat du jour option or you can head to Manhattan restaurant in Broummana, where its served every Sunday lunchtime. Restaurant: Al Hindi at the Warwick Palm Beach Hotel. The restaurant serves great Indian food and is always busy. It’s cozy, with wooden floors and oriental rugs and amazing service. Bar: Happy hour at Dany’s in Badaro.
They do a very good gin and tonic, which is not too strong like other bars.
Gavin’s show is about to start, but that doesn’t stop him from making one final comment about how much he admires the Lebanese people. “They are truly unique; the fact that they speak so many different languages. It’s very normal to speak three or even four, which I find incredible. I studied French at school and lived there and I only speak about four words, one of which is croissant!” You can catch Gavin Ford in The Morning on Radio One, weekdays from 7 am to 10 am on 105.5 FM. The high-energy, fast-paced program features music, conversations on the latest hot topics, Hollywood news and contests.
Activity: Scuba diving at Dive The Med in Batroun. There are some really interesting ship and submarine wrecks to explore. Hidden gem: The Hotel Palmyra in
Baalbeck. It’s the Middle East’s oldest hotel and feels like a haunted house. Charles de Gaulle lived at the hotel during his time in Lebanon and Agatha Christie also stayed back in the day. Tip: Come in the summer for great
nightlife, friendly and attractive people, cool beach clubs, amazing food and local wine. The country also boasts the most beautiful mountains and not-to-be-missed Roman ruins.
42 BEHIND THE SCENES
THE STORY OF B 018
Lucia Czernin takes a unique look at Beirut’s most iconic nightclub © DW5 Bernard Khoury. Photo: Jon Shard
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It’s often said that war is a million miles away when the Lebanese begin to dance. This statement couldn’t have been truer when musician Naji Gebran started hosting musical therapy sessions in the ‘80s at his seaside apartment located 18km north of the capital. “They used to come because of the music, to forget the war,” says Gebran. To the tunes of jazz, blues, funk, soul, classical and Arabic music, people who weren’t able to live their dreams would dance them instead. Soon, these therapy sessions were referred to as B 018, an ode to the serial number of the beach chalet hosting them. It wasn’t long before the big success of Gebran’s musical therapy nights led to an overflow of dancing dreamers and the party required a larger venue. In 1994, the club found its new location, while maintaining its old reference B 018, in Beirut’s Sin el Fil neighbourhood. The site, which had no permit, could only be reached via a dirt road and quickly developed a reputation for its unorthodox atmosphere. In the same year, Gebran’s cousin Bernard Khoury arrived from Harvard University bursting with creativity and it is he, Lebanon’s most visionary architect, who made the club irrevocably disappear from the surface. B 018 made its home, where it stands today, in an underground bomb shelter just east of Beirut in 1998. Khoury’s rather wondrous coffin-shaped design for the club, accessed via a metal staircase, was inspired by the dark history of its grubby Karantina location. Here, on Lot #317, local militia massacred Kurdish and Palestinian refugees in January 1976. Faced with the dilemma
© DW5 Bernard Khoury. Photo: Ieva Saudargaite
of creating a venue of pleasure against a grim backdrop, Khoury sunk his project in the ground like a communal grave. Leaving the surface of the area to its doomed past, he added a retractable roof made of heavy metal, giving revelers an unparalleled experience of dancing under Beirut’s night sky. “The energy we injected into this sector is in my opinion far more worthy than what a postwar rhetorical monument could provide,” Khoury said in an earlier interview. In a city with no shortage of nightspots, B 018 has stood the test of time. It remains one of the most successful, and equally controversial, entertainment projects to have emerged from the region, repeatedly being ranked in the top five of the world’s best clubs and bars. Gebran feels reassured: “The prizes and awards for B 018 are proving that my dream has come true: to change the musical scene in Lebanon, for the better.”
B 018: A HEDONIST’S UTOPIA Don’t miss the epic ‘80s night, every Thursday from 9 pm. Hardcore fans of deep house can head over on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 pm. 03 800018, b018.com © DW5 Bernard Khoury. Photo: Ieva Saudargaite
44 CUSTOMS & TRADITIONS
KEEPING TRADITION ALIVE
With the support of Lebanon’s Ministry of Tourism, we explore Lebanon’s long history of copperware, glassblowing and pottery
COPPER AND SOAP MAKING IN TRIPOLI
In the souks of Tripoli, copper and soap are still being made by hand by local artisans and craftsmen, who continue the trades of their ancestors before them. Traces of copper making and metal work can be found in Lebanon as early as the Bronze Age. Today, copperwares are centralized in Tripoli’s copper market, the Souk el Nahasine. As one of the area’s most prominent copper-makers, Osman Tartousy recalls the souk once humming with the sound of metal shaping copper plates. “You couldn’t talk when walking down Nahasine Street, so loud was the pounding of hammer on metal.” Each stand lining the Souk el Nahasine glimmers with the promise of treasure awaiting you within. The art and science of soap-making has also taken root in Tripoli’s old souk. Tripoli’s Khan el Saboun is speckled with colorful olive-oil soaps whose fragrance imbue the courtyard with a lovely, floral scent. The use of soap originated in the Arab world, where precious olive oils were used in the many hammams of the Ottoman era. Visitors can buy organic and locally made soap from the artisans that still inhabit the beautiful Khan el Saboun.
POTTERY IN BATROUN
The ancient craft of pottery making has been essential to the development and growth of human civilization in Lebanon and worldwide. Pottery was once the main source of income for the village of Assia in Batroun, where the craft was passed on from father lebanontraveler.com
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GLASSWARE IN SARAFAND
The tradition of glassblowing in Lebanon started with the Phoenicians, who exported their fine glassware to the Pharaohs of Egypt and spread the art of glassblowing around Europe. This ancient craft extends from ancient times to the Khalifeh family in Sarafand today. Members of the Khalifeh family begin their apprenticeship at the age of 12 and cultivate their glass blowing technique over the course of eight years. Scalding hot glass is blown through a thin metallic tube in a technique that has been passed on from generation to generation.
artisan and the importance of keeping our rural tradition alive. The museum is open Monday to Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm, from May to November. 05 455104/03 987678, fnp.org.lb, near St. Takla Church, Terbol, Caza Zahlé
The Khalifehs use recycled glass for much of their glassware, transforming discarded pieces of glass into ornate vases, jugs, glasses, lamps and works of art.
SILK IN ALEY
Silk has a long history in Lebanon, dating back to the Byzantine Empire when the secrets of silk production were brought to Lebanon by local merchants. It didn’t take long for the delicate fabric to become the obsession of Lebanon’s elites, whose demand for silk quickly grew the trade in Lebanon. Combined with the purple dyes produced in Saida and Tyre, Lebanon was soon a hub for silk in the region.
to son and mother to daughter. However, traditional pottery making is becoming rarer in Lebanon, as machine-made products slowly take over. Though pottery is no longer the central industry for her village, Sanaa Jabbour is still making pottery the way her ancestors once did—by hand and with a tremendous amount of care and detail. Sanaa handles every step of the pottery making process. She shapes raw materials, sourced locally, into beautiful works of redtinted pottery. Each piece is polished and finished using special pebbles over a period of two weeks before it is ready for use. Sanaa’s pottery can be purchased at her shop Assia and at Souk el Tayeb in the Beirut Souks.
Silk Museum of Bsous
The newly renovated Silk Museum in Aley’s Bsous village is housed in an old silk factory, where visitors can learn firsthand about the precious fabric, the art of its production and its history in the country. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm, from May to September. 01 744222/05 940767, Old Silk factory, Bsous, Caza Aley
RURAL LIFE AT THE TERBOL MUSEUM
With its fertile lands, Lebanon’s pastoral and rural tradition has been essential to the country’s growth. Here to help visitors understand that agricultural heritage is the Terbol Museum. The museum is a refurbished rural farmhouse that reflects the traditional Lebanese way of life. It displays agricultural tools and household items alongside exhibitions on the region’s culture. The Terbol Museum actively works to give visitors insight into what it meant to be a Lebanese
The Lebanese Ministry of Tourism actively works to preserve precious traditions in Lebanon through initiatives aimed at empowering local artisans throughout the country. mot.gov.lb, destinationlebanon.gov.lb
46 RELIGIOUS TOURISM
OUR LADY OF ILIGE
Religious anthropologist, researcher and founder of NEOS Tourism consultancy Nour Farra-Haddad takes us on a trip to one of Lebanonâ€™s most important pilgrimage sites, the monastery of Saydet Ilige
More online lebanontraveler.com The region of Mayfouk is breathtaking, with its stunning mountainous terrain and picture perfect scenery. It is also a place of great religious significance, offering pilgrims the chance to visit a dozen sacred sites, including the monastery of Our Lady of Ilige (Saydet Ilige), one of the oldest seats of the Maronite patriarchate. It has been the residence of the eighteen patriarchs for 320 years, seven of whom were buried there. The historic old church of the monastery was built in 1121 on the ruins of a pagan temple, which are said to be dedicated to the god Il or to Venus-Astarté. Remnants of the temple can be seen in the outdoor walls of the church by the entrance, where a stone resembling the curved head of a bull is visible. The inscription above the gate reveals that the church and the monastery were not built at the same time. The Syriac words carved on the slab above the lintel of the western door of the monastery indicate that the construction of the church ended in 1277. The church includes a bema (characteristic of the patriarchal churches), with stairs leading to it to the western side of the church. The monastery suffered a series of attacks and was abandoned for a long period of time. After the church was renovated in 1746 and in 1766, the Maronite Order assumed the affairs of Saydet Ilige. Monks worked hard to rebuild the monastery and more restoration, undertaken by the General Directorate of Antiquities, took place in the 1970s. Since then, the Lebanese Maronite Order, assisted by the local municipalities, has continued to preserve the monastery’s surrounding. A sanctuary dedicated to Saydet El Hazineh (Our Lady of Sorrows) can be visited via a path to the south side of the monastery.
Saydet Ilige used to hold the oldest Maronite icon in Lebanon, a testimony to its importance to Maronite
heritage. The icon was removed for restoration and can now be found in the monastery of Our Lady of Mayfouk.
The village of Mayfouk is located in the caza of Byblos, 70km north of Beirut and 35km northeast of Byblos. The monastery of Saydet Ilige is located 1,000 meters above sea level, in the upper part of Mayfouk village.
Thanks to the new highway connecting Amchit to Mayfouk, the monastery can be reached in about 45 minutes from the coast. Alternatively, head there from Mounsef, passing Maad, Ghalboun and Bejjeh on the way. The site is open throughout the year. It is not recommended for those with walking difficulties due to the vast number of stairs.
There are plenty of religious sites to visit in the area. Be sure to stop by the 19th century monastery of Mar Challita, El Qottara, Mar Antonios, Mar Charbel Hermitage Sanctuary, Saydet El Wardiyah Church (Our Lady of Roses), Mar Saba Church, Mar Jiryes Monastery, Mart Moura Church and Mar Elias Chapel.
SHOP, EAT & SLEEP
A souvenir shop of religious items and local products is located just at the entrance of the site (09 765063). Grab a bite at Nahr El Joz restaurant (09 765766, 70 368402), which serves traditional Lebanese fare. A traditional house, located a few hundred meters from the monastery, welcomes guests looking to stay the night. For bookings contact Layla Hashach (09 765063). Celebrations and special events: The Virgin Mary is celebrated on the 15th of August
48 CULINARY HERITAGE
SAVORY PASTRIES The Food Heritage Foundation’s Zeinab Jeambey explores different varieties of mouajanat around Lebanon
Once you’ve sampled traditional Lebanese savory pastries, known locally as mouajanat, it is not difficult to understand why they have been enjoyed since the early days of Mediterranean civilization. The juxtaposition of crispy pastry and meat or vegetarian filling is truly divine, with each region specializing in its own unique variation of the popular item.
FATAYER WITH SHANKLISH - TASHEA, AKKAR
Shanklish is a specialty of northern Lebanon made from cow or goat’s milk. It is curded milk, which is drained and molded into tight balls. The balls are then coated with paprika or dried thyme and left to ferment and dry. To make the shanklish into a traditional fatayer pastry, the cheese is mixed with onions and baked on a saj or in a tannour oven.
You can sample the shanklish fatayer in the Akkar region. A good option is the Abou Marwan Guesthouse in Tashea (70 449616).
WILD PLANT PASTRIES - QEMAMINE, DINNIYEH Qemamine is a beautiful village at the bottom of Wadi Juhannam, surrounded by steep mountain peaks. Qemamine is characterized by its unique biodiversity, which produces a wealth of fresh plants and foods.
Villagers have a deep knowledge of the edible plants that grow wildly on the sides of the mountain and their diet depends heavily upon them during the spring season. A popular way to prepare the plants, which range from hindbeh to qors aane, is to use them to fill pastries. Several types of chopped greens are mixed with onions, pomegranate seeds or pomegranate molasses, stuffed into fresh dough and baked on the saj. A great place to sample the pastries is the Taleb Guesthouse in Qemamine (70 937284).
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Photo: The Recipe Hunters
Photo: Food Heritage Foundation
DARFIEH CHEESE FATAYER - TANNOURINE
Darfieh cheese is one of the most traditional cheeses produced in the highlands of Ehden, Bcharre, Hermel and Aarsal. The cheese is made from goat’s milk, which is aged in goat’s skin in cool mountainous in the highlands of Batroun. The cheese is salty and slightly tart, making it particularly tasty when it is baked. To enjoy these fatayer, contact Rita Sarkis at Ecodalida in Tannourine (71 679055/03 679055).
POTATO AWARMA FATAYER - BAROUK
A potato and meat pastry is the staple winter meal in villages dotted across the Lebanese mountains. Traditionally, these hearty fatayer pastries are eaten in the winter months. Villagers mix diced potatoes with awarma and spices and bake them in the iron stove. Sample these fatayer by contacting Aida Boustani (03 420495).
EGG AND WALNUT SAMBOUSEK - MARJAOUN
Sambousek are fried pastries whose exact shape and stuffing vary by region. In the southern area of Marjaoun, vegetarian sambousek are common. The pastries are stuffed with scrambled eggs, walnuts and seven-spices, and deep-fried to a glorious shade of golden brown. For orders of this sambousek, contact Majed Makhoul (03 903060). 71 731437, food-heritage.org
DISCOVER LEBANON’S REGIONAL SPECIALITIES AS YOU HIKE In April and October each year, the Lebanon Mountain Trail Association organizes a Thru-Walk of the Lebanon Mountain Trail. Hikers eat, sleep and rest at local guesthouses, where regional food keeps them fueled for the country’s most epic hike.
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Ever wanted to explore Lebanon but didnâ€™t know where to start? We help you navigate the countryâ€™s most spectacular rural and urban gems with these information-packed mini guides. Just hit the road and start your adventure!
Ammiq, Bekaa. Photo: Jubran Elias
52 MINI GUIDES
TOWARDS THE NORTH JOUNIEH, BYBLOS, BATROUN, TRIPOLI, BCHARRE Tripoli Batroun Byblos
JOUNIEH Just a half-hour drive from Beirut, the city of Jounieh is a great getaway for a day trip or weekend. The area has plenty to offer in terms of nature, urban fun, and history. Whether you go for the day or night, for the water or the mountains, it is one of Lebanon’s most accessible destinations.
GETTING THERE By car: Follow the highway northbound out of Beirut towards Tripoli until you see signs for Jounieh. By public transport: Head to Dora to find a van heading to Jounieh. Vans leave every 10 minutes and the trip costs just 2,000 LBP. Alternatively, you can grab a taxi to Jounieh from Beirut for around 30,000 LBP.
WHAT TO DO The Teleferique and Harissa (Our Lady of Lebanon) The Jounieh Teleferique (09 936075, teleferiquelb.com) is one of the city’s main destinations and the country’s most well-run tourist attractions. For just 9,000 LBP on weekdays and 11,000 LBP at the weekend (round trip), enjoy an exciting and slightly nerve-racking cable car ride up to take in some incredible views. After the nineminute ride, the Teleferique pops you out on top of Harissa, where a well-maintained park lines the walkway to the magnificent Our Lady of Lebanon statue. You don’t have to be a religious tourist to appreciate the beauty of this statue, which stands armsopen above the stunning bay of Jounieh. lebanontraveler.com
Jeita Grotto It goes without saying that the Jeita Grotto (09 220840, jeitagrotto.com) is an absolute must while in Lebanon. Millions of years of subterranean movement have produced an absolutely breathtaking underground cave system that can be enjoyed by visitors. With an entrance fee of around 18,000 LBP, the upper and lower grottos take approximately two hours to explore on foot and by boat. The site is closed on Mondays.
WHERE TO EAT Punta Del Este This popular Jounieh restaurant specializes in Argentinian cuisine and its food, views, and cocktails do not disappoint. Punta Del Este (09 830788/76 933466) offers items like empanadas, tuna tartar and a juicy burger that make it great for a date, or a night out with friends. Dorado Sur Mer If you are in Jounieh for a day trip, this restaurant is perfectly located at the foot of the Teleferique. With tasty mezze and
an outdoor seating area facing the sea, Dorado Sur Mer (09 914414/70 227025) is a beautiful place to find fresh seafood and some traditional Lebanese mezze after a trip up the mountain. Habana A firm favorite among locals, Habana (09 638166/03 664285) is the quintessential Mexican diner. Set in a restored French colonial house, with green shutters and a cavernous interior, the restaurant offers an appetizing menu, and a great atmosphere to match.
WHERE TO SLEEP BURJ on BAY Hotel Though the BURJ on BAY Hotel is 15 minutes north of Jounieh’s main hub, it is well worth the detour. This hotel is the first of its caliber to arrive in the area, with a gym, a pool and awesome views of the bay from every room. 09 855941, burjonbay.com
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BYBLOS & BATROUN A combined trip to Byblos and Batroun makes for the perfect summer vacation in Lebanon. Just a 20-minute drive from each other, the two towns guarantee enough beach, adventure, and history to keep even the most demanding tourist satisfied.
GETTING THERE By car: Take the highway northbound out of Beirut, past Jounieh, until you reach Byblos. From there, Batroun is less than a 20-minute drive north. By public transport: Head to the Charles Helou Bus Station in Beirut and hop on the Byblos bus for 5,000 LBP or get on the bus to Tripoli and ask your driver to let you off in Byblos. To get from Byblos to Batroun, you can either take a taxi for around 15,000 LBP or wait on the main road for the local bus to pass by for 2,000 LBP.
WHAT TO DO Ruins of Byblos Like many of Lebanon’s coastal towns, Byblos has witnessed the onslaught of Lebanon’s conquering armies, from the Phoenicians to the Greeks to the Crusaders. Layers of civilization are literally piled on top of one another in this expansive archeological site. A Persian fortress from the 5th century B.C., a Crusader castle, medieval city walls, and an Obelisk temple dating back to the times of the ancient Egyptians, are some of the incredible relics you can visit. A wander around the old souks is also well worth it, particularly if you’re looking for local handicrafts. Check our “Trail through the Souk” article on page 70 for ideas on
where to pick up souvenirs and traditional items to remind you of your visit. Port of Byblos One of Lebanon’s most picturesque harbors, Byblos old port is a collage of pastels and deep blues. Fishing boats speckle the waterfront and the deep blue of the sea mirrors the bright sky above. You can enjoy a stroll along the port or stop by one of the many cafés and restaurants that offer unparalleled views of the sea. Beach Clubs Going to Byblos and Batroun in the summer is a national pastime. Lining the coast are back-to-back beach clubs, ranging from super luxurious resorts to shabby chic bars. Check out our full beach guide on page 20 for the best options to suit your taste.
WHERE TO EAT Pepe’s Byblos Fishing Club Overlooking the Byblos waterfront, Pepe’s Byblos Fishing Club (09 540213) has been a popular restaurant for fresh seafood since 1962. Hosting Hollywood glitterati and international politicians throughout its history, the views don’t get much better than Pepe’s terrace. Be sure to visit the museum, showcasing the incredible artifacts Pepe retrieved from shipwrecks during his life at sea. Locanda a la Granda Serving fusion-style cuisine and specializing in redesigning famous traditional Lebanese and international dishes, Locanda a la Granda (09 944333/09 946333, locandaalagranda.com) occupies a prime spot in Byblos’ old souk. Enjoy the view from the terrace while you enjoy the delicious food and the restaurant’s special Locanda Beer.
Byblos old port
Beit Al Batroun
Chez Maguy If you find yourself craving home-cooked and freshly prepared food in Batroun, a visit to Chez Maguy (03 439147) is a must. Run by Maguy herself, the restaurant opened 26 years ago and despite its popularity, has maintained the homey feel of a small familyrun restaurant. Colonel Beer Microbrewery Since it opened in 2014, Colonel (06 743543, colonelbeer.com) has been attracting beer connoisseurs and hipsters, who come for the locally brewed beer and stay for the view. With plenty of events during the summer months, Colonel has become a hang out for locals and foreigners looking to enjoy a microbrewery with good ambience and chilled out vibes.
WHERE TO SLEEP L’Hôtel de Mon Père Set on a hillside in Byblos overlooking the sea, the cozy L’Hôtel de Mon Père offers boutique style accommodation. The familyrun establishment boasts 17 charming rooms and is located within a 15-minute walk of the beach and a short drive from the historic sites of Byblos. Double rooms start at 120,000 LBP (80 USD) per night including breakfast. 09 795996/70 225987, lhoteldemonpere.com Beit Al Batroun This unique bed and breakfast is a little piece of Lebanese paradise. Flowers fill each corner of Beit Al Batroun and a calming vibe inhabits the airy space. There is a large garden and pool in the outdoor area, which opens in the summer. The service at Beit Al Batroun exemplifies true Lebanese generosity. Rooms cost 240,000 LBP (160 USD) a night including breakfast. 03 270049, beitalbatroun.com lebanontraveler.com
54 MINI GUIDES
WHERE TO EAT Sayad’s Sandwiches Walking into Sayad’s Sandwiches, a shabby little kiosk, you might not expect to find some of the freshest fish sandwiches in Tripoli. Made to order, people stand in line to enjoy their tasty fried fish, spicy fish, shrimp, octopus and calamari sandwiches. Al Balha Ice Cream If you want ice cream made the old-fashioned way, head to Al Bahla in the El Mina district for a cone filled with fresh ice cream and smothered in pistachios. Al Bahla is well known for using local ingredients, like rose water and lemon, to make refreshing sorbets. Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles
TRIPOLI Tripoli is Lebanon’s second largest city and provides visitors with a great traditional Middle Eastern vibe. Tripoli has avoided the commercialization that has defined many large cities, and its unique flavor is infectious. Wander around the winding market places and historical sites and you’ll soon find yourself falling for its charm.
GETTING THERE By car: Tripoli is a big city so a car comes in handy. Simply take the coastal highway north and follow the signs to Tripoli. By public transport: Buses leave for Tripoli from Beirut’s Charles Helou Station every 15 minutes. The fee is nominal at just 5,000 LBP, but the journey takes around two hours.
WHAT TO DO Old Souks Your first stop in Tripoli should be the old souks. Head into the souk, a frenetic maze of jewelry shops, kaake vendors, and juice stands. Scattered throughout its tight alleyways are various Mamluk, Crusader and Ottoman relics, like the Mansouri Mosque, the Khan Al Saboun, a beautiful courtyard where soap is still made by hand, and Hammam El Jadid, a hammam with stunning mosaics and a glass dome ceiling. Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles Tripoli’s Citadel was built by Raymond VI of Saint Gilles, a knight of the very First
Crusade, who set out to conquer Tripoli and erected the castle around 1100 A.D. Entrance to the site costs 5,000 LBP and is well worth the price. You can roam through the sprawling grounds of this Crusader Castle and admire its Frankish and Ottoman foundations. Every stone staircase leads to a new deck and each doorway opens up into a grand hall from Lebanon’s past. Climbing through the structure to the very top of the castle, visitors will find an unmatched panorama of Tripoli from above. The site is open from 10 am to 6 pm daily. El Mina and Corniche Roaming around the laid-back seaside neighborhood of El Mina is a must in Tripoli. The El Mina quarter juts out into the sea and is defined by its relaxed and quaint atmosphere. Buildings are old and beautiful, and there is a tenable small town feeling, complete with colorful houses, local churches, and charming back-alleys. Palm Island Reserve The Palm Island Reserve consists of three islands. Declared a protected site by UNESCO in 1992, the islands are populated with endangered species of rabbits, monk seals and turtles. The largest island, Nakheel, features around 2,500 palm trees, with paths laid out for visitors. The islands are open to the public from July to September so take advantage. Just remember to negotiate the price of your boat trip at the port, pack some food and float away.
WHERE TO SLEEP Via Mina Hotel The charming Via Mina Hotel is the perfect place to rest after a busy day in Tripoli. Its colorful walls, outdoor pool, and tasteful décor creates an idyllic oasis in this hectic city. Each room is equipped with airconditioning, complimentary beverages and snacks, and all-organic toiletries. A decadent and locally sourced breakfast is included with the room, which you won’t want to miss. One night including breakfast costs around 240,000 LBP (160 USD) for a double. 06 222227, viamina.com Beit El Nessim Beit El Nessim is another great option in the El Mina neighborhood. They have a beautiful rooftop terrace from which to admire the surrounding area, and the space is thoughtfully decorated. The owner is a yoga instructor and will arrange lessons for an added fee. Rooms start at 150,000 LBP (100 USD) for a single room. 06 200983, beitelnessim.com Via Mina Hotel
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BCHARRE Perched atop the stunning Qadisha Valley, Bcharre is an idyllic mountain village. There are traditional mountain houses, panoramic views, cedar trees, and great restaurants dotted throughout the area. The town of Bcharre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and after spending a day in this pristine mountain town, it’s not hard to see why.
GETTING THERE By car: Take the northern coastal highway to Batroun and follow the signs up into the mountains, past Chekka, Amioun and Kousba, until you reach Bcharre. By public transport: Buses leave from Dora approximately every hour and cost around 7,000 LBP. There are no buses on Sundays.
WHAT TO DO Khalil Gibran Museum Bcharre is the hometown of the famous Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran (1883-1931), whose poetry and artwork reflects his upbringing in Lebanon’s mountains. The museum itself is a 19th century monastery that was cut straight into the rock. The exhibition consists mostly of Gibran’s paintings, snippets of his original poetry, and even his coffin. Entrance to the museum costs just 5,000 LBP, but it is closed on Mondays. 06 671137, gibrankhalilgibran.org Qadisha Valley
Cedars of God A short car ride away from Bcharre are the Cedars of God, a beautiful reserve holding the ancient and epic trees Lebanon is famous for. The Cedars of God are absolutely majestic. These mammoth trees have been around longer than any living thing and their subdued magnificence exude an almost spiritual aura. Outside the reserve you’ll see several souvenir and snack shops. The reserve is open from 10 am to 6 pm daily. Qadisha Valley The Qadisha Valley is the kind of place you might think only exists in movies. This magnificent valley cuts into the land and is surrounded by soaring, pine-covered mountains on both sides. The best way to enjoy the valley is on foot. Hike on the dirt road, which leads deeper into the valley and turn back whenever you get tired. For a more arduous hike, there are trails leading from Qadisha to Ehden that span 16km. For more information on the hikes, contact the Lebanese Mountain Trail Association (05 955302, lebanontrail.org). Qadisha is also home to various hermitages and monasteries. If you want to visit the monasteries, the Monastery of Mar Elisha and Deir Mar Semaan, a hermitage founded in 1112 A.D., are both beautiful and easy to get to. Just ask around and you’ll be pointed in the right direction.
WHERE TO EAT Abou Joseph Abou Joseph (03 277898) is located in the Qadisha Valley and is easily one of the most scenic places you can go to for a Lebanese mezze. Although the décor is simple, with plastic chairs and tables, the river and the soaring mountains will make you feel at one with nature.
Khalil Gibran Museum
Cedars Heaven Located between the Cedars of God and Bcharre, this small outdoor restaurant sits on top of the Qaddisha Valley and boasts one of the most expansive views of the area. Due to its outdoor location, Cedars Heaven (03 743760) is only open during the summer.
WHERE TO SLEEP Hotel Chbat Hotel Chbat is the most luxurious hotel in Bcharre, with suites overlooking the valley, a rooftop pool, and an upscale restaurant. The hotel’s amenities are all modern and the views from the valley-facing rooms are nothing short of spectacular. 06 672672, hotelchbat.net Tiger House Tiger House is a favorite among budget travelers in the area due to its low prices and convenience. Tiger House is a good place to spend the night in the mountains and use as a base while you navigate the surrounding area. They offer private or dormitory style rooms. 03 087126
56 MINI GUIDES
THE SOUTH SAIDA, TYRE, JEZZINE Jezzine
SAIDA With a winding old marketplace, a seaside castle, and a strong Lebanese heritage, Saida is easily one of Lebanon’s most delightful destinations. Though the coastal city sits just 40km south of Beirut, it has retained a much quainter and more traditional vibe than the cosmopolitan capital, making it a perfect getaway from Beirut.
GETTING THERE By car: Take the highway south out of Beirut and follow the signs towards Saida. By public transport: Vans leave to Saida every five minutes from Jisr el Cola. The journey takes around an hour and costs 3,000 LBP.
WHAT TO DO Sea Castle Saida’s most distinctive feature is the Sea Castle, built in 1228 by Crusading armies on the site of an old Phoenician temple. Sitting on a small island off the water, the stone castle is framed by the sharp blue Mediterranean Sea, making it perfectly picturesque. Entrance to the site costs 4,000 LBP, and it is open daily from 9 am until sunset. Old Souks Saida’s old souk is exactly what you might imagine an Arabian bazaar to look like, complete with stone archways and shops selling everything from fruits to souvenirs. Along with the Dabbane Palace, many old lebanontraveler.com
religious sites are scattered throughout the souk. Enjoy the adventure of discovering them in the labyrinth of twisting alleyways.
castle. The food is typical Lebanese mezze style and reasonably priced, especially given its prime location.
The Soap Museum The Soap Museum is here to show you the art of saponification, the chemical process that produces the soap. The museum is tucked into an old soap factory that is now a well-organized and informative museum. For just 5,000 LBP, a guide will take you through the aromatic chambers of the museum. 07 733353
Tawlet Saida Tawlet Saida (81 707240, tawletsaida.com) is a lovely restaurant that is a tranquil place to cool down after roaming the Saida souk. Set above the maze of the marketplace below, the atmosphere will lure you in with its peace and quiet, keeping you satisfied with Lebanese food made by local women.
Khan El Franj Just outside the old souk is Khan El Franj, an old inn built by the Ottoman Fakhr el-Dine II to encourage the silk traders to do business to Saida. Today, visitors can walk through the Khan for free and admire the scenic inner courtyard and arched Ottoman architecture.
WHERE TO EAT Rest House The Rest House (07 722469) is Saida’s most popular restaurant, and for good reason. You can enjoy your lunch right on the waterfront, with an unparalleled view of the
Al Kassir Al Kassir (07 720536), a tiny family-owned sweet shop, is well known in the area for their classic pastries, stuffed with nuts, and fruits in traditional Lebanese fashion.
WHERE TO SLEEP Al Qalaa Hotel Located on the water’s edge just steps from the old souk, the rooms of Al Qalaa are charming and cozy. The rooftop restaurant overlooks the Crusader Castle and has the old feel of Saida. Rooms cost around 150,000 LBP (100 USD), depending on the season. 07 734777
Saida’s Sea Castle
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Restaurant Tony Just beside Le Phenicien is Restaurant Tony (70 108641), a slightly shabbier but equally charming option. Tony, the owner of this small white and blue decorated seafood restaurant, will greet you warmly and fry you up the latest catch.
TYRE (SOUR) Lebanon’s southernmost city, Tyre is one of those hidden gems that makes Lebanon a spectacular place to travel. Like all of Lebanon’s coastal cities, it has witnessed a myriad of passing armies, conquerors and civilizations. Today, much of Tyre’s ruins come from the Roman era, yet it exudes a noticeably beachy vibe.
GETTING THERE By car: Follow the southern road from Beirut, past Saida, until you reach Tyre. By public transport: Hop in a van from Jisr el Cola to Saida for 3,000 LBP. In Saida, you can transfer to a bus to Tyre for 2,000 LBP. The vans run every 20 minutes or so and the trip down takes around two and a half hours in total.
WHAT TO DO The Roman Hippodrome Tyre’s Hippodrome is a sprawling spectacle of ancient Roman grandeur. The Hippodrome once held up to 40,000 people, who sat along the stadium stands to cheer on chariot races. The ruins are remarkably well preserved and you can climb up the stadium seating through ancient archways and a Roman street. Entrance costs 6,000 LBP and the site is open daily from 8:30 am until 30 minutes before sunset. 07 740530
Tyre Port and the Christian Quarter Tyre’s Port is a beautiful site, especially around sunset. The pretty harbor is dotted with fishing boats and fishermen, and the briny smell of the ocean lingers around the seaside area. Located next to the port, the Christian Quarter is like Lebanon’s own version of a Greek island, with cobblestone streets, colorful houses and flowers spilling over balconies. Tyre Public Beach If you are visiting Tyre during the summer months, a trip to the public beach is a must. It is one of the cleanest in Lebanon. Unlike the beaches in Lebanon’s north, Tyre’s beach is made of a fine sand, which coupled with the crystal clear water, makes for a perfect day on the coast.
WHERE TO EAT Le Phenicien Located right on the harbor, Le Phenicien (07 740564) is one of Tyre’s most upscale restaurants. Specializing in fresh seafood and fish, the restaurant is known for its great service, tasty food and amazing view.
Captain Bob’s If you want to eat your lunch right on the water, nothing beats Captain Bob’s. During the summer, the restaurant builds a wooden patio over the ocean, sets up some plastic chairs and tables, and serves up shisha, delicious mezze and fried fish.
WHERE TO SLEEP Dar Alma Easily one of Lebanon’s most charming boutique hotels, Dar Alma is situated in the lovely Christian Quarter, right on the seafront. The hotel exudes a nautical atmosphere, from its blue and white décor to the ocean facing restaurant and private swimming spot. A night’s stay costs around 225,000 LBP (150 USD). 07 740082, hotelibanais.com Turquoise Beach Resort Located right on the beach and just a seven-minute drive from the center of Tyre, Turquoise Beach Resort offers luxury accommodation and the facilities one would expect from a lively summer resort. It’s a great choice for groups and families. 78 822866/78 822877, turquoise-lb.com Al Mina Ruins
Al Mina Ruins Just a five-minute drive from the Hippodrome are the seaside Al Mina ruins. The bulk of the Roman ruins are a series of columns on the seafront. You can pay 5,000 LBP to walk through this beautiful ancient site and take some amazing pictures. The site is open daily from 8:30 am until 30 minutes before sunset. 07 740530 lebanontraveler.com
58 MINI GUIDES
JEZZINE Jezzine is Lebanon’s hub for nature tourism due to its breathtaking mountain view, pine forests, and waterfalls. During the summertime, the town and surrounding area become a getaway for visitors seeking a fresh mountain retreat away from the city.
GETTING THERE By car: Take the southern coastal road down to Saida, and turn into the mountains at the Nejmeh roundabout. Continue until you see signs for Jezzine. By public transport: From Beirut, head to Jisr el Cola to get the van to Saida for 3,000 LBP. In Saida, transfer to the LTC bus at the Nejmeh roundabout. Ask the driver to drop you off near Jezzine’s town hall. The total trip takes around an hour and a half.
WHAT TO DO Bkassine Pine Forest A haven for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, Jezzine’s pine forest is the largest in the Middle East. The distinctive Lebanese pine trees cover the area, making it a great place to enjoy walks in the fresh air.
Photo: Peter Ghanime
Jezzine Waterfall Jezzine’s waterfall is the fifth highest in the world, attracting tourists from around the country. You can experience the waterfall by hiking down to its base or enjoying a meal in one of the cafés at its summit.
WHERE TO EAT Al Chalouf Situated just above the famous Jezzine waterfall, Al Chalouf (07 781774) is the best place in Jezzine for great views and a tasty mezze. Enjoy your lunch surrounded by spectacular pine forests at a height of 75 meters over the valley.
WHERE TO SLEEP Maison de la Forêt Maison de la Forêt is an eco-lodge perched among the pine forests that
cover the mountains surrounding Jezzine. The sprawling property hosts several rustic lodge-style rooms and the hotel specializes in organizing outdoor activities. They have a climbing wall, ropes course, and bikes available for rent on the property, making for a great stay in one of Lebanon’s most beautiful forests. 07 800222/78 828252, lamaisondelaforet.net Blue Jay Valley Set in the heart of Jezzine, Blue Jay is hidden in a green valley abundant in pine and oak trees. The property, made up of bungalows and luxury tents, is a lovely retreat, providing guests with luxurious accommodation and restful nights under a starry night sky. 07 811112/78 880088, bluejayvalley.com
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THE SHOUF BEITEDDINE, DEIR EL QAMAR Beiteddine Deir El Qamar
BEITEDDINE & DEIR EL QAMAR The Shouf is one of the best preserved and historically rich areas in the country. With picturesque villages, lush mountains and the largest cedar reserve in Lebanon, you can immerse yourself in the natural beauty this incredible region has to offer.
GETTING THERE Depending on which village you want to start your trip from, the Shouf is around an hour’s journey from Beirut. A good starting point is the charming village of Deir El Qamar. By car: Follow the southern coastal highway towards Saida. Just before Damour, exit the highway towards Beiteddine, and follow the signs. By public transport: Take a van from Jisr el Cola towards the Shouf, and get off at the village of Kafr Him. From there, take a service or taxi to the main square in Deir El Qamar, but note finding taxis may prove difficult. The van and service cost 2,000 LBP each. The taxi costs around 10,000 LBP.
epitomizes idyllic mountain charm. It also highlights the religious diversity in Lebanon, with a mosque, a church and a synagogue all taking residence in its main square. Enjoy a stroll around the village, starting in the historic main square, where jousting tournaments took place during the Crusades. Beiteddine Palace Just 20 minutes from Deir El Qamar, sits Beiteddine Palace, one of Lebanon’s Ottoman treasures. The palace offers a stunning and well-preserved example of 19th century architecture. Walking through the palace complex, visitors will immediately notice the wealth and detail of its construction. Each room features mosaic stonework, cedar wood engraving and spacious areas. The museum is open from 9 am to 4 pm, but is closed on Mondays. 05 500077 Shouf Cedar Reserve The Shouf Cedar Reserve holds over 20% of the country’s cedar trees, some of which date back 2,000 years. Hike in forest or rent a mountain bike from the Shouf Biosphere Reserve (05 241171) at the entrance and cycle along the trail. 05 350250, shoufcedar.org
WHERE TO EAT Al-Midane Restaurant Located in a sunny courtyard facing Deir El Qamar’s main square, the Al-Midane Restaurant (03 763768) specializes in Lebanese mezze and local food. Decorated
in a traditional style, the restaurant lends itself perfectly to an extended lunch. Mir Amin Palace For upscale dining in a beautiful palace, head to Mir Amin Palace (05 501315, miraminpalace.com). This complex, which looks out over the Beiteddine Palace and surrounding mountains, was the residence of the youngest son of Emir Bashir II Chehab. Today, the palace is a gorgeous hotel and restaurant.
WHERE TO SLEEP Beit El Qamar Surrounded by vegetable gardens and colorful terraces, Beit El Qamar is an adorable little hotel that will make you feel right at home in the Shouf. Their locally sourced breakfast overlooking the Shouf mountains is worth a visit alone. 05 511722/03 661411, soukeltayeb.com/ beit-el-qamar Bouyouti Five minutes from Beiteddine sits Bouyouti, an elegant guesthouse perfect for a luxurious overnight stay in the Shouf. Bouyouti is a cluster of upscale houses, combining ample space with a warm and elegant atmosphere. 03 310200, bouyouti.com Deir Al Oumara With a beautiful central courtyard for its restaurants, and 11 spacious rooms, Deir Al Oumara is a stunning example of Ottoman architecture and the perfect boutique hotel for an overnight stay. 05 511557, deiraloumara.com Beiteddine Palace
WHAT TO DO Deir El Qamar With red-tiled roofs, winding streets, and traditional stone houses, the village of Deir El Qamar (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
60 MINI GUIDES
THE BEKAA ZAHLÉ, BAALBECK, ANJAR Baalbeck Zahlé Anjar
ZAHLÉ Located in the Bekaa Valley, Zahlé is Lebanon’s third largest city and a hub in the region. The city is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and is known for its crisp and cool mountain air. Renowned for producing a large share of Lebanon’s wine, arak, and poetry, Zahlé is an idyllic retreat just an hour from Beirut.
GETTING THERE By car: Zahlé is easily accessible. If you’re going by car, just follow the Beirut highway east, through Hazmieh and above the mountains. The road is well signposted. By public transport: Buses and small vans depart from the Jisr el Cola in Beirut every half an hour or so. They go directly to Zahlé, stopping only in Chtura on the way. The whole journey takes around an hour and costs just 2,000 LBP.
WHAT TO DO Our Lady of Zahlé Watching over the city on a 54-meter high tower is a bronze statue of the Virgin Mary, known as the Our Lady of Zahlé. Even if you aren’t religious, a visit to the site is worth the panoramic views you’ll be able to enjoy. Wineries and arak Thanks to its crisp, cool air and mountainous terrain, Zahlé is home to some of Lebanon’s best wineries that vary in size, from large estates to small lebanontraveler.com
Photo: Peter Ghanime
family-run wineries. Try Château Ksara (08 801662, châteauksara.com), Château Massaya (08 510135, massaya.com), Domaine Wardy (08 930141/08 930777, domainewardy.com), or Château Khoury (08 807143, châteaukhoury.com). The Berdaouni River The Berdaouni River begins in the snowy mountains of the Bekaa Valley and courses right through the heart of Zahlé, endowing the area with an unrivaled natural coolness. Restaurants line the river on the eastern side of town, offering the perfect place to enjoy a peaceful meal, while listening to the soothing sound of running water.
WHERE TO EAT Casino Arabi Situated on the banks of the Berdaouni River, Casino Arabi (08 800144) is one of the most popular restaurants in town. It specializes in mezze and also serves alcohol and shisha. Arabi is on the more-expensive side but the food is phenomenal and the river-side deck is simply beautiful.
Boozah Khalaf and Abou Sleiman Along the Berdaouni River is the famous Boozah Khalaf and Abou Sleiman (03 408880/08 823733). The families got together to start producing ice cream three generations ago, when they mixed miskeh, sahlab and milk curd otherwise known as ashta. Today, they still serve this authentic, hand-made ice cream in their shop.
WHERE TO SLEEP Akl Hotel Like many of the buildings in the old town, the Akl Hotel dates back more than 100 years. The small, family-owned establishment has 10 bedrooms, one dining room and two lounges. 08 820701 Taanayel Ecolodge Located in the heart of the Bekaa Valley in the small town of Taanayel near Zahlé, the Taanayel Ecolodge is made of several old-fashioned adobe houses. The Ecolodge offers accommodation that mirrors the traditional way of sleeping, in one large room with mattresses on the floor. 08 544881
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BAALBECK & ANJAR
Baalbeck is a city that needs no introduction. One of Lebanon’s most popular tourist destinations, its astounding temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attract thousands of tourists every year. The city’s history spans back to the early Phoenician times and crosses into the reign of Alexander the Great and, later, the Roman Empire. Less popular among tourists but equally impressive is the quaint nearby city of Anjar, with its Umayyad-era ruins. Anjar has strong Armenian influences and a combined trip to Baalbeck and Anjar provide a valuable insight into Lebanon’s rich and diverse history.
GETTING THERE By car: Take the Beirut-Damascus highway out of Beirut and follow the mountain road to Zahlé, from where you will see the signs to Anjar. From Anjar, pass back through Zahlé and continue north to reach Baalbeck. By public transport: Take a bus from Jisr el Cola in Beirut to Zahlé, the transportation hub in the Bekaa, which costs 2,000 LBP. From Zahlé, you can find buses that run to both cities for 2,000-3,000 LBP.
WHAT TO DO Baalbeck Archeological Site There are three ancient temples at the Baalbeck Archeological Site—the Temple of Venus, Jupiter, and Bacchus, all of which are stunning remnants of the Roman era Baalbeck’s Temple of Bacchus. Photo: Jubran Elias
in Lebanon. The sheer size of the temples is enough to astound visitors. Ancient columns loom high overhead and support an intricately decorated roof. Like much of Lebanon, the resilience of the ruins in the face of destruction is truly magnificent. Through multiple empires, rulers, and wars, the temples have managed to not only survive, but to keep their brilliance and grandeur intact. Take your time to absorb these ancient grounds with a knowledgeable local guide like Mohamed Wehbe (03 926604). Umayyad Ruins in Anjar Before the discovery of the ruins in Anjar, Lebanon had archeological evidence of almost every stage of Arab history except the Umayyad. The site was found accidentally in the 1940s by a team of archeologists, who stumbled upon the missing link in Lebanon’s long line of Arab rulers. Anjar is home to a complex of Umayyad ruins, including two palaces, a mosque and a public bath. A walk around takes around an hour. The Kfar Zabad Nature Reserve Thanks to the presence of endangered birds in Anjar, the Kfar Zabad wetlands have been declared a nature reserve and there are plenty of outdoor activities to do in the area. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) is the main body in the wetland, organizing several hikes, with an emphasis on biodiversity and bird life.
Umayyad Ruins in Anjar
WHERE TO EAT Al Shams No trip to Anjar would be complete without a visit to Al Shams (08 620567, shamsrestaurant.com). It is the spot to go to try top-notch and authentic Armenian food, which can be enjoyed on their outdoor terrace. Be sure to order their famous balloon potatoes and kibbeh. Al Jazira Perched on the side of a lake, Al Jazira is a local favorite and a tourist attraction. The Lebanese food they serve is consistently tasty, fresh, and reasonably priced. Al Jazira is great for children who will enjoy feeding the ducks and trout in the lake.
WHERE TO SLEEP Hotel Palmyra Located within walking distance of the Baalbeck ruins, Hotel Palmyra is a beautifully renovated house, complete with terraces, a sunny garden, and a lovely restaurant. The hotel is decorated with authentic vintage décor and furniture that is reminiscent of old Lebanese grandeur. The service, rooms, and overall ambience will make you feel immediately welcome and enamored with Baalbeck’s old charm. 08 370011/08 370230 Layali Al Shams This hotel is the recent project of the Al Shams restaurant and offers modern and luxurious accommodation in Anjar. The property boasts a large pool and outdoor space, and easy access to all of Anjar’s glorious highlights. 08 622600 lebanontraveler.com
SAVE THE DATE We take a peek at the hottest summer events you do not want to miss! Highlights: Enjoy the cool mountain weather as you listen to the enchanting voice of Kadim el Saher (August 4 and 5) and renowned French singer and songwriter Michel Sardou (August 11). 76 908020, ehdeniyat.org
THE BATROUN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
MUSIC FESTIVALS BEIT MISK FESTIVAL
Where: Beit Misk When: June 29-30 Highlights: Beit Misk welcomes French Canadian pop sensation Garou (June 29) and world-renowned composer and oud master Marcel Khalife (June 30). 71 211121, MiskEntertainment
BYBLOS INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
Where: Byblos When: July 3 - August 4 Highlights: The lineup just keeps getting better and better at the Byblos International Festival. Catch international stars Sean Paul (July 3) and Julian Marley (July 19), German alternative rock darlings Milky Chance (July 24) and violin virtuoso Ara Malikian (July 27), among others. 09 542020, byblosfestival.org
EHDENIYAT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL Where: Ehden When: August 4-11 lebanontraveler.com
Where: Batroun When: August 12-19 Highlights: This year the Batroun International Festival is welcoming to its stage Carole Samaha (August 12), Bonnie Tyler (August 18) and Wael Kfoury (August 19) for three magical nights. 06 642262/03 105700, batrounfestival.org
Where: Batroun When: September 9 Highlights: Wickerpark is a grassroots alternative music festival, highlighting new and emerging bands. It is one of the most welcoming and reasonably priced music festivals in the country. 03 241408, wickerparkfestival.com Beirut Art Fair
ART & CULTURE BEITEDDINE ART FESTIVAL
Where: Beiteddine Palace When: July 1 - August 12 Highlights: As every year, a series of first-class music, theater and dance performances will headline at Lebanon’s incredible Beiteddine Palace. This year’s program includes the powerhouse vocals of Omar Kamal (July 1), “Ballet For Life” by the Béjart Ballet company (July 14 and 15), international jazz favorites, Pink Martini (July 19), award-winning singer, songwriter and composer Kadim el Saher (July 28 and 29) and Lebanese singing legend Magida el Roumi (August 12). 01 373430, beiteddine.org
JOUNIEH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
Where: Jounieh When: July 2-15 Highlights: Watch Lebanese singer and songwriter Wael Kfoury live on stage (July 2) and the critically acclaimed musical “Notre-Dame De Paris” (July 8 to 11). Michel Fadel’s musical performance (July 15) will be followed by the epic firework display the festival is famous for. 09 832263, jouniehinternationalfestival.com
More online lebanontraveler.com Film Festival will host short films from 21 countries on the Mediterranean Sea. The event will consist of competitions, workshops, concerts and screenings. 06 642262/03 105700, batrounfestival.org
BEIRUT DESIGN FAIR Beirut Restaurants Festival
BAALBECK INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
Where: Bacchus Temple, Baalbeck When: July 7 - August 15 Highlights: With a history that spans six decades, this year’s festival hosts the celebrated “Lebanese Nights” (July 7), three-time Grammy award winner Angelique Kidjo (July 16), and top-selling international band TOTO (August 15). 01 373150/03 041006, baalbeck.org.lb
KOBAYAT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVALS
Where: Al-Qoubaiyat, Akkar When: August 5-14 Highlights: Ecotourism and musical events feature on this year’s program including a day of mountain biking and adventure in Akkar (August 6), a tour to the fortress of Akkar Al Atika, and the much-awaited concert of the Egyptian singer Sherine Abdel Whahab (August 13). 09 934 921, kobayatfestivals.org
LEBANON LATIN FESTIVAL
Where: Eddé Sands Resort, Byblos When: September 6-11 Highlights: With 90 artists, 15 DJs, 100 workshops, 90 shows, and three arenas to party in, the Lebanon Latin Festival promises to be the biggest Latin extravaganza of the summer. 70 230979, lebanonlatinfestival.com
BATROUN MEDITERRANEAN FILM FESTIVAL
Where: Batroun When: September 7-10 Highlights: As part of the Batroun International Festival, the Mediterranean
Where: Biel, Beirut When: September 20-24 Highlights: Dedicated to contemporary and modern design, collectible and limited edition furniture, the fair will present design from leading international designers and galleries, alongside upcoming design from across the Middle East and the rest of the world. beirut-design-fair.com
BEIRUT ART FAIR
Where: Biel, Beirut When: September 21-24 Highlights: As the leading platform for the discovery of new artists, trends, galleries, institutions, and publications in the region, Beirut Art Fair will offer an exceptional and innovative program, reaffirming Beirut’s role as one of today’s most vibrant centers of contemporary creation. 03 386979, beirut-art-fair.com
FOOD & DRINK BEER, WINE AND SEAFOOD FESTIVAL
Where: Batroun When: August 6 Highlights: The festival is back for its third edition, with over 30 Lebanese vendors showcasing the country’s best beer, wine and seafood. 06 642262/03 105700, batrounfestival.org
JOUNIEH COCKTAIL FESTIVAL
Where: Fouad Chehab Stadium, Jounieh When: August 17-20 Highlights: The Cocktail Festival in Jounieh will feature Lebanon’s best alcoholic selection, with more than 55 bar stations, bar caterers and pubs from Mar Mikhael, Hamra, Jounieh, Badaro, Byblos, Broummana, Dbayeh and other nightlife hotspots around the country. beirutcocktailfactory.com
BEIRUT RESTAURANTS FESTIVAL
Where: Trainstation, Mar Mikhael, Beirut When: September 29 - October 1 Highlights: Celebrate the best of Lebanon’s tradition and international flavors at the second edition of the Beirut Restaurants Festival. Over 30 establishments, from street food vendors to fine-dining restaurants, will be present so Beirut foodies can sample a little bit of everything. 01 480081, BeirutRestaurantsFestival
WHISKY LIVE BEIRUT
Where: Le Yacht Club, Zaitunay Bay, Beirut When: October 19-21 Highlights: The premier whisky tasting event is back for its second edition. Discover the most exclusive single malt, blended, Bourbon, Scotch and Irish whiskies with more than 20 premium brands. Join exclusive masterclasses and tasting sessions to learn more about unique and rare bottles. 01 480081, WhiskyLiveBeirut
SPORTS ACTIVITIES HIKE with Vamos Todos (03 917190, vamos-todos.com), Dale Corazon (70 986118/70 997062, dalecorazon.com) and Footprints Nature Club (03 876112, footprintsclub.com).
BIKE with Cycle Circle (03 126675, cycling-circle.com), Beirut by Bike (03 435524) and CycloSport (01 446792/03 974736, cyclosportlb.com) SURF with Surf Lebanon (71 900322/76 900322, surfinglebanon.com)
PARAGLIDE with Club Thermique (03 933359, clubthermique.org)
CLIMB with the Lebanese Climbing Association (03 112338/03 211822, climbinglebanon.com) lebanontraveler.com
64 SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE LEBANON
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The age-old handcraft of weaving reed and palm leaves into household items has been practiced for centuries in Lebanon’s rural villages. Lucia Czernin explores the organizations playing a key role in keeping the tradition alive
Wickerwork centers, which once populated Lebanon, are becoming harder to come by in our rapidly modernizing country. However, there are still a few organizations that have upheld this traditional craft and have used it as a means of empowering several communities. One such organization is La Maison de l’Artisan, which is working with over 500 artisans from around Lebanon to support local work and traditional handicrafts. They empower local craftsmen and women by supporting small businesses and selling their handmade products in their online store. La Maison de l’Artisan sells a variety of wicker baskets that are hand woven by Lebanese into beautiful and intricate products. Basket making and weaving has also found a place among some of Lebanon’s most vulnerable populations, namely the students of the Lebanese School for the lebanontraveler.com
Blind and Deaf (LSBD). The school trains its students in vocational skills to help them gain employment. They host workshops in various artisanal skills for students, like traditional basket making and weaving. The LSBD’s exhibition center shows the remarkable abilities of the less able-bodied. This is the baseline of the Al Kafaat, Nadeem & Lily Shwayri Foundation. The self-sustained social enterprise is run by the handicapped, who engage in basket and chair weaving among many other crafts and services. Al Kafaat specializes in creating products that have a twist on traditional crafts, producing beautiful and thoughtful pieces. Craftsmen with special skills contribute to the growth of society, living Nadeem Shwayri’s philosophy: “As long as his heart beats and his eyes shine, man still has a mission and a role in this world.”
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66 NEW OPENINGS
NEW IN TOWN
Beirut is known for its great food and there is never a shortage of new places to try. The ultimate food and lifestyle magazine, Taste & Flavors, rounds up the latest spots to feed your thirst and your appetite
Feel the fiery spirit of Spain at Bonavida, a cool tapas bar in the heart of Mar Mikhael. The warm and friendly ambiance, delicious food, mouthwatering drinks and funky tunes will keep you entertained late into the night. What’s special? The salmon tartar tacos, buffalo chicken nachos, bresaola roll, beef tapas. 03 315324, Armenia Street, Mar Mikhael
Opening in mid-June, Dirty Laundry is a new urban kitchen and bar, with a fun and flirty atmosphere. The open space boasts a beautiful garden and an indoor area. Upstairs, the rooftop bar overlooks the mountains and is an ideal spot for catching up with friends. What’s special? The squid croquetas in black ink and garlic mayonnaise confit, slow cooked lamb shoulder served with pilau rice, and the signature “Death by Chocolate” dessert. 81 331333, Armenia Street, Mar Mikhael
KALÉO JACKIE O BEIRUT
Kaléo reflects the rhythm of its location, offering fine dining in a casual and artfully inspired setting. The menu features contemporary European dishes prepared with carefully sourced seasonal ingredients. What’s special? The frogs served two ways, perfectly poached organic eggs with porcini, and grilled beef filet with Kaléo’s special potatoes.
An urban lounge experience, Jackie O is a classy addition to Beirut’s resto-bar circuit. Guests 01 985807, Dr. Fawzi Daouk Street, Minet el Hosn, Downtown Beirut can expect a chilled out vibe, exquisite bites and a leisurely break from the hustle and bustle of the city. What’s special? The salmon tartar, tuna sashimi, exotic shrimp salad and chicken porcini. 03 315324, Saifi Port Side lebanontraveler.com
ESCAPE THE CITY
experience A GARDEN STATE OF MIND
Plot 607, Rue 40, Sin El Fil Beirut, Lebanon T. 71 075 575
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68 NEW OPENINGS
Bringing Hawaii to Lebanon, Malolo is the quintessential laid-back seafood restaurant dedicated to the island’s much-celebrated raw fish dish, poké! Get ready for a blend of relaxed beachy vibes in the heart of the city. What’s special? The poké bowl of course! 01 570745, Pasteur Street, Gemmayze
Market is best described as a cosmopolitan restaurant that serves diverse cuisines and embraces different culinary traditions from around the world. If you don’t know what you’re in the mood for, you will most certainly find it here. What’s special? The rock shrimp tempura, salmon tataki, sesame prawn toast, steamed chicken dim sum, king crab salad and kung pao chicken with cashew nuts. 01 999644, Ahmad Chawki Street, Minet El Hosn, Beirut District
MED by DUO is a casual restaurant serving a variety of Mediterranean dishes and sushi. The easy going atmosphere, outdoor terrace and menu selection will suit all tastes. Even health buffs will rejoice at the wellstocked salad bar. What’s special? You guessed it, the salad bar! 01 293692/01 292792, Beirut City Centre, Hazmieh
SALT BY EDDY DIAB
A truly refined French bistro, Salt by Eddy Diab meticulously balances delicious food and elegant design. The restaurant prides itself on creating a new experience with every dish. What’s special? The cote de boeuf and filet de boeuf. 71 050599, Monot, Ashrafieh tasteandflavors.com
THE LATEST FIVE STAR TREATS HIGH TEA AT THE FOUR SEASONS HOTEL BEIRUT The Four Seasons has introduced afternoon tea at its Lobby Lounge. Indulge in a selection of freshly made sandwiches, traditional scones and a choice of cakes and pastries. Served daily from 3-7 pm. 81 700644 lebanontraveler.com
SEAFOOD NIGHT AT KEMPINSKI SUMMERLAND HOTEL & RESORT Enjoy the finest seafood delights, with live entertainment and shisha by the sea, every Thursday at Pier78. 01 828431
SUNSET DRINKS AT LE GRAY BEIRUT
Head to “Sunset on the Roof” at Indigo restaurant’s terrace, from 5-8 pm daily, to watch the sun go down. The restaurant is also hosting a special barbecue night every Friday, with live grilling and entertainment. 01 972000
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70 ON THE TRAIL
Trail through Byblos’ souk Look beyond the famous ruins of Byblos to find local traditions that are very much alive. Social entrepreneur and philanthropist Alice Eddé takes us on a tour through the old souks, unveiling six little treasures in one of Lebanon’s most beloved towns Head north out of Beirut towards Tripoli and exit the highway at Fidar. Look out for the Fidar Bridge and the Roman aqueduct over the Adonis River, which once served fresh water from the mountain springs to the people of Byblos. Follow the old coastal road and park when you reach the Old Town of Byblos. 1. Witness the ancient art of embroidery in the skilled hands of a mother and daughter duo at Ebre wa Khayt (03 462512). They combine an old craft with modern technologies to create bespoke needlework and screen-printed linens, towels and accessories. 2. There is no better place to pick up literature from or about Lebanon than at Gibran’s Lebanon (09 542226). Flick through books written by celebrated Lebanese authors, including Amin Maalouf, Alexandre Najjar, Ambra Salam and of course the works of Gibran Khalil Gibran himself. Championing local designers, it’s also a good spot for handmade crafts. 3. Watch Armenian metalworker Vahe Hamparsoumian (03 741371) transforming light sheet metal into arguileh boxes, square vases and even bar counters at his workshop, housed in a beautiful arcade. Vahe, whose craft has been handed down from his father and grandfather, works with great passion and pride. 4. At Eddé’s Herbs (03 742332), aromatic herbs and spices that have long seduced passers-by are delightfully displayed in pottery and baskets. If you’re looking for sumac, thyme or other distinctive Lebanese flavors, you won’t be disappointed. lebanontraveler.com
5. Discover the only fish fossils to emerge from the Middle East at Memory of Time (09 540444). Excavated from the palaeontologist and shop-owner’s land, the fossils are incredibly detailed and available to purchase.
6. Refuel with a local specialty snack at AbiAssaf (09 546489), located between the Serail and Byblos Bank. Sample the Kaak de Byblos - puffy, crispy, sesame-seed covered balls, enjoyed plain or with a scoop of labneh.
GETAWAY FOR LESS
Founder of NEOS Tourism consultancy and author of “Eco Lebanon: Nature and rural tourism,” Nour Farra-Haddad gives her tourism tips for budget getaways under $100
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN SOUTH LEBANON’S NATURAL BEAUTY
South Lebanon is brimming with possibilities for adventure seekers. If you are interested in Lebanon’s history, you can explore a number of sites, including the temples of Eshmun near Saida, the ruins of Tyre (Sour) and the old souks of both towns. The region is also well endowed with ancient churches, shrines and mosques. And let us not forget the natural beauty that characterizes the region. Grab your snorkel and go for a swim in the crystal clear waters of Jiyeh then visit sea turtles in their natural habitat in Tyre.
SLEEP Tyre: Al Fanar Resort is a typical Lebanese house with direct access to the beach (80 USD a night for a single room including breakfast. Call 07 741111/03 665016 or visit alfanarresort.com). Saida: In the heart of the old city of Sidon, book your overnight in Yacoub Boutique Hotel, a 1920’s property located just steps away from the souks (65 for a double room including breakfast. Call to reserve a room on 07 737733/03 327034). Saida’s old souk
Jiyeh: Mayark Guesthouse is a peaceful property, with great sea views and just 50 meters from the beach (67 USD for a double room. Call 81 694292).
EAT An excellent shawarma is available at Abou Deeb snack in Tyre. In Saida, you’ll find some delicious street food like falafel in the souk area.
SEE Visit the two archeological sites of Tyre and wander around the narrow streets of the old city. Head to the sacred Maqâm of Nabi Omran in Qleileh (the father of the Virgin Mary) and continue to Cana to visit the Site of the Statuaries and the Site of the Jars, where Jesus is said to have performed one of his first miracles. Tyre’s harbor
Take a local guide: Contact Jihad (French speaking) or Fadia Mourtada (English speaking) on 03 374103.
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ESCAPE TO RURAL BYBLOS & BATROUN TO DISCOVER ART & POETRY
Be captivated by the majestic scenery of rural Byblos and Batroun, a land made up of small towns, villages and hamlets. In this area, lovers of the arts will enjoy discovering treasures like the Alfred Basbous Museum in Rachana, with its rich collection of sculptures. The stunning castle of Smar Jbeil, one of the oldest villages in Lebanon, is also a site not to be missed.
SLEEP Smar Jbeil: TAFLA is a friendly bed and breakfast, offering clean and comfortable accommodation (80 USD for a double room including breakfast. Book by calling 71 749448) Jrabta (Batroun): Wadaya Greenland, set deep in nature, offers a mixture of bed and breakfast, camping and bungalow accommodation (100 USD for a small bungalow for four. Call 03 212757 to reserve).
EAT The saj buffet at TAFLA is not to be missed. For a traditional meal, try the El Deir Restaurant (06 720304). If casual is more your thing, you can grab a sandwich in the main square of Smar Jbeil village at Furn Al Saha (71 004481).
SEE Discover the medieval frescos at Mar Charbel Church in Maad and those at Mar Saba in Eddeh. Visit Maroun Abboud Museum in Ain Kfaa, the birth house of the artist (03 776778) and explore Rachana, the village of Basbous brothers. If you go higher up to Jaj, you can also explore Boutros Farah Museum (03 254283). Take a local guide: A list of the main guides in the major towns is available on jbail-byblostourism.org.
WINE, DINE & ENJOY NATURE BETWEEN GHAZIR & CHAHTOUL IN KESERWAN Approximately 32km from Beirut and 930 meters above sea level sits the village of Chahtoul, in Lebanon’s Keserwan district. The town of Ghazir is located on the way and is known for its old souks and religious sites. The green surroundings and relaxed atmosphere have made the area a popular destination for adventure seekers, especially those interested in camping, hiking, camping and archery.
SLEEP Ghazir: Enjoy Lebanese hospitality at the family run Beit Wadih, a traditional guesthouse (95 USD for a twin/double room with breakfast. Call 76 377155 or visit beitwadih.com). Chahtoul: Spend a night in the wild, in the middle of an oak forest under the stars at Camping Chahtoul (25 USD per person, per night including rental of the tent and breakfast. Call 70 302040).
EAT Bring your own food and organize yummy barbecues at Chahtoul camp or enjoy one of the many Lebanese typical restaurants in the Qattine area by the river. Azzi Qattine (09 926506) and Casino Achtarout (09 925129) are two great options.
Take time to stop in Ghazir to visit the birthplace of the beatified Abouna Yaacoub (09 926298). Born in 1875, he established schools and social institutions all over Lebanon. Pass by the famous Château Musar winery to enjoy an exceptional wine tasting experience and the visit of the cellars. Pre-booking a tour is essential (09 925056, châteaumusar.com.lb). When you get to Chahtoul, take a hike in the woods and visit the impressive church of Saydet El Hosn (Our Lady of the Fort). lebanontraveler.com
74 BEST BEDS
There are some truly unique guesthouses in Lebanon, guaranteed to make you feel a million miles from home. Lâ€™HĂ´te Libanais present a couple of their magical retreats
It takes an adventurous spirit to reach Dar Linda, a pretty home nestled in the heart of the lush Shouf Mountains. Overlooking the village of Deir El Qamar, the property is reached by a road that meanders steep mountains slopes, revealing breathtaking views of endless green valleys. Besides its instant charm, Dar Linda wows guests with its remarkable design, executed by famous French architect Jacques Liger Belair. Combining modern elements with local aesthetics, the two-bedroom guesthouse accommodates four people and features a rooftop and a relaxing garden area, surrounded by blackberry and fig trees.
The trio behind Dar Linda is made up of Nour and her two sons, Karim and Kamal, who transformed the space into an elegant home. The guesthouse is brimming with ethnographic objects and artifacts that Nour, a distinguished historian and longtime advocate of preserving Lebanese heritage, acquired over her long career and travels, some of which date back to Ottoman times. She artfully showcases and curates them at Dar Linda, ensuring that every guest receives a unique, artistic, and luxurious experience. Rooms starting from: 225,000 LBP (150 USD) including breakfast
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In the beautiful Mount Lebanon village of Akoura lays Guita, a new guesthouse and the latest addition to the Lâ€™HĂ´te Libanais family. It all started with Guita Germanos, a mother passionate about cooking and gathering friends and family around a table of delicious Lebanese specialties. Recently, Guitaâ€™s son Philippe decided to turn the summer residence into a guesthouse, celebrating traditional cuisine and promoting agro-tourism. Like Guita, the guesthouse is warm and welcoming. From the fresh interiors, to the colored rooms inspired by the different herbs, flowers and fruits grown around the farm, the guesthouse is an invitation to a peaceful and homey getaway in the mountainous landscape of Lebanon. Step outside the cozy interior and reinvigorate your senses at the hundred-meter garden, where the water fountain, the hammocks, the swing, and the hand-planted fruits and vegetables create the perfect haven of green serenity. Apart from the wide variety of fruits and vegetables that are served right from its gardens, the guesthouse offers traditional Akourian meals made with love by Guita herself, such as maakroun bi labne and tbaibisse. Guests can also take part in cooking sessions and even spend time fruit picking. Rooms starting from: 150,000 LBP (100 USD) including breakfast Text: Reem Joudi and Krystel Riachi. Photos: Walid Rashid hotelibanais.com lebanontraveler.com
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76 LT ABROAD
PACK YOUR BAG! On the lookout for a quick overseas getaway with a twist? Travel blogger The Jetsetter Diaries has just the ticket
Serbia is a European gem hidden in the beautiful Balkans. The vibrant capital, Belgrade, is a hip and funky city with cute cafés, shops, lots of graffiti and a happening nightlife. The locals are especially welcoming. To explore the natural beauty of the country, head to the west and discover Uzice, Uvac and Tara National Park. You can climb incredible mountains, take boat rides, swim in beautiful lakes and enjoy nothing but lush, green forests around you.
A country best known for its history, culture, and breathtaking nature, Armenia should be at the top of your “off the beaten track” bucket list. The best way to explore this undiscovered beauty is to take a road trip through the stunning mountains and valleys. Don’t miss the lively capital of Yerevan, Etchmiadzin – the oldest cathedral in the world, the pagan temple of Garni, Lake Sevan – one of the largest freshwater high-altitude lakes in Eurasia, and Jermuk, famous for its hot springs and wellness resorts. What’s more, Lebanese citizens can grab their visa upon arrival.
Flight time to Belgrade: 2 hours 45 minutes (direct flights on Air Serbia) Where to eat traditional food in the capital: Lorenzo & Kakalamba or Kalemegdanska Terasa Where to sleep: Square Nine Hotel Belgrade (luxury) or ArkaBarka Floating Apartments on the Danube (budget)
Flight time to Yerevan: 2 hours (direct flights on MEA or Armenia Aircompany) Where to eat traditional food in the capital: Old Erivan or Dolmama Where to sleep: Armenia Marriott Hotel Yerevan (luxury) or My Hotel Yerevan (budget)
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78 TOP TIPS
Proving that it takes two to tango, we got up close and personal with international tango star and “Dancing With The Stars” judge Mazen Kiwan to learn more about dance in Lebanon and his favorite things about the country
YOU JUST CELEBRATED THE NINTH EDITION OF THE BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL TANGO FESTIVAL AND THE FOURTH EDITION OF THE BYBLOS TANGO FESTIVAL IS COMING UP IN OCTOBER. TELL US MORE. I moved to Paris in 1995 and the first time I came back to Lebanon was in 2002. I thought it would be great if I could bring tango to my homeland so I began to give workshops here. In 2003, I came with 16 of my students and that’s how it all started. Since the festival kicked off, we’ve brought over 2,000 people from 35 countries here. The festivals not only celebrate tango, but also give people the opportunity to discover the real face of Lebanon. We take our guests all over the country, from Tripoli to Saida.
WHEN YOU’RE NOT DANCING OR TEACHING, WHERE DO YOU UNWIND? I spend a lot of time in Badaro, where my dance academy is. Out of town, I relax in my village of Bater in the Shouf. I consider it to be the most beautiful in the region, with rolling hills and deep valleys, offering views down to the sea. You truly feel on top of the world there. WHAT SHOULD EVERY TOURIST COMING TO LEBANON NOT LEAVE WITHOUT DOING? It is important to explore old Beirut and to visit the mountains in any part of the country. Lebanon is so peaceful and tourists need to experience that. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE LEBANON? It’s like your best friend and worst enemy! It’s nothing short of addictive.
TIPS FROM MAZEN Wander around: Hamra, especially the old shops and cafés. Stop for a coffee at: Café de Penelope in Badaro. Their espresso is awesome. Grab a bite to eat at: Casablanca in Ain el Mreisseh. They serve delicious, fresh seafood. Go hiking in: The Cedars or below Jezzine. It is so beautiful. Escape the crowd: Out at sea! Rent a boat and find a remote spot to relax. Enjoy the wine of: Château Heritage (red and rosé) and Ixsir (white). MazenKiwanTheAcademy
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Published on May 29, 2017
Published on May 29, 2017
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