Friday, October 2, 2009

Bouncin' around Beirut

My past couple of days in Beirut have been unforgettable. Simon and I set off on foot to explore the city and have come up with the following observations:
  • It is very, very, VERY hot and sunny - everyday! Not that I'm complaining :P
  • Traffic is absolutely crazy!
  • Lebanese people are stunning - and they're always dressed to the nines.
  • Beirut is one city where you can walk around without anyone pointing, staring or heckling you.
  • It is nowhere as dangerous as you may believe.
  • The city still bears many physical scars of the recent conflict. We were transfixed by a beautiful residential building... until we noticed the roof and interior had been blown away. I would have taken a picture had I not been so horrified. Even the Place des Martyrs monument was peppered with bullet holes.
  • You need to be in fairly good shape to survive the streets of Beirut: with the short trees, hills, dips in the street, random excavations in the sidewalks, traffic, and wayward parking jobs, you will find yourself ducking, climbing, running and jumping to get to where you want to be.
  • The shwarmas are TO DIE FOR!!! Instead of beets, they have pickles and French fries in the pita. My stomach is grumbling just thinking about it.
  • The Mediterranean Sea... so many shades of turquoise - it never gets old. And my pictures certainly won't do it justice.

Yesterday we set off to find the National Museum - showcasing relics and artwork from Lebanon's rich cultural history. It didn't take us long to get lost in the maze of windings streets but we found it after 5 hours - and it was worth the walk. We saw most of the city centre and passed some amazing sites along the way, hinting at the country's Greek, Roman, and Arab influences.

Today we set off to explore the West Coast and the American University in Beirut. We saw Rawsheh Rocks, many beautiful mosques and churches, an excavation site right in the city, Nejmeh Square (acually, it's circular), and of course, the University campus - which had me momentarily wanting to go back to school... in Beirut.

My perfect day had a perfect ending - in the form of a shwarma. I love Lebanon and I would love to come back here. I spent this evening reminiscing about my visit with another Canadian and an Aussie in the hostel common room - and the feeling's mutual.

Tomorrow... we're off to Luxor!

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