I am not quite sure what triggered my huge interest for Beirut, but I think it might be the large Lebanese community in my university and their vocal love for the homeland. So for many years I pictured Beirut as a very hip and happening city and I was always very keen to visit. So we finally did it ! When I say we, I mean my other half, myself and the unsolicited, unwelcomed, yet very present rain ! Bummer !
Before going I got the best recommendations from the best of my Lebanese friends, and I pretty much followed it all. This led us to spent most of our time outside of Beirut
Here is the itinerary:
Day 1 : Breakfast in Beirut – Jeita Grotto – Jounieh Teleferique – Byblos – Back to Beirut
Day 2 : Chouf Mountain – Beit Ed Dine Palace – Back to Beirut
Jettah Grotto is a system of 2 immense caves, one that visitors can walk through , and one to be explored by boat. Both are beautifully conserved, and well worth the visit. And the rest of the world seems to agree with me, as the caves were among the finalist of the Top 7 Wonders of Nature. More info on that project here. Unfortunately it is not allowed to take pictures inside (all cameras /phones equipment must be stored in the lockers available outside), so I borrowed one on Internet to give you an idea.
We then drive to the Jounieh Teleferique, which is actually pretty cool ! I don’t think I have been in one of these teleferique in the last 15 years actually ! It is a very cute way to get to the top of the hill, to have a great view around, and to eventually pay tribute to Our Lady of Lebanon, if that is what you are into. Jounieh looks otherwise quite dodgy, probably because of the nearby casino, so I wouldn’t recommend to spent too much time there. Unless you are into strip clubs and cheap bars, which is totally fine by me 😉
Once done with Jounieh, we drove to Byblos, a cute little fishing village with a great castle and some roman ruins. The main building is very nicely renovated and highlights some historical pieces collected during the archeological researches led by the French. Located on top of a cliff the view is beautiful and would have made some awesome pictures if not for the rain. To escape it, we found refuge in a nearby seafood restaurant, overlooking the small port :
. Some fresh seafood, Lebanese mezze and white wine and we forgot all about the weather!
Back to Beirut, we finally got ready for the much anticipated “Night out in Beirut” ! We started with a lovely French restaurant! (yes sorry, I do love Lebanese food, but I had enough already !) , Goutons Voir, in Achrafieh. Delicious French classic flavors are on the menu of this cute and cosy restaurant : Magret de Canard, Steak & Fries, Beef Tartare and so one. 2 words : Try it !
Under pouring rain and a slight hangover (guilty !), we still decided to drive to Beiteddine Palace, a 19th century masterpiece of Lebanese architecture. I won’t talk to much about it for the simple reason, that we did a very quick tour, froze to death and headed back to our car … Still , I can only begin to imagine how beautiful it must be under a clear sky and a bright sun. So here you go, only a couple of grey, rainy pictures !
One last thing : We did all of the above by Uber, which costed us around 60 USD / day. A good option !
Where we stayed :
Le Commodore hotel : We chose this hotel for 2 reasons, its historical value and its central location. My advise :: Forget about the historical value which unfortunately is not really visible. The hotel is quite old, and do not offer much of the modern commodities. But it is comfortable and centrally located, so it is not a bad choice either.
Cost : 85 USD / night, excluding breakfast