Lebanon trip report



Lebanon has had its fair share of troubles. It looks worn and weary in places, the government has not invested in protecting sites of interest, but even with its very basic tourism infrastructure it offers plenty of hidden gems. Since public transport is far from comprehensive, I hired a car to get around.



A few hours from Beirut, Baalbek is one of the most impressive ancient sites, dating back to the Roman ages. If you go in the daytime in july when it's 39C, you will have the whole place to yourself and you'll see some fairly big lizards in the ruins. In the nearby town of the same name, there's one of the most elaborate Shiaa mosque.



Beirut is a city of contrast. Parts of it look like Paris, while other parts are more like Baghdad, bearing scars of the civil war. There's a lot of reconstruction happening, and for a country that has the Al Arez tree on its flag, there are almost no trees to be seen. There's the Corniche, a long promenade along the coast. Hamra is the best base, it's filled with shops/eateries and the only place busy every night. For the nightlide, head to Gammayzeh.


Byblos (Jbil)

About an hour from Beirut is Byblos, a small city that has been continuously inhabited since 5000 BC. There's a castle and archeological site, a souk and a harbour full of restaurants. The restaurants there will inflict a lot of pain on your wallet.


Lebanese wedding

Near Chtaura, I attended a Lebanese wedding. All the tables had shishas, and every 3rd word in each song was "habibi".


Lebanese driving

I think whenever someone is born in Lebanon, they automatically get a driving licence attached to their birth certificate, because Lebanese drivers are some of the worst in the world. "You have to treat every other car you see like a baby that you're holding in your arms" is how to drive in Lebanon according to my Lebanese friend. I got into an accident with a minivan driver. He demanded $50, grabbed my throat and we tussled. Went to the police, who told me to go to some other building. Cut a long story short, a local garage fixed the door and repainted it for $60, which was much cheaper than what the rental company would have charged.


Lebanese food

Lebanese food might be very tasty but it can be very lethal too. I had my worst ever case of food poisoning in Beirut. It was either from the chicken, the popcorn, or both. I ended up fainting once at the airport, and once on the plane, all I could hear after passing out is voices shouting "don't go towards the light, come back".