Edit Blog Post
Published: December 6th 2010
Arriving past midnight at the surprisingly new Beirut Airport I found no queue at the immigration counter, everyone else was filling up some form so I went ahead of everyone, my passport was thoroughly checked by the officer in training, took her awhile then she stamped me for stay good up to 1 month, a second officer thumbed through my passport once again, checking for an Israeli stamp I am sure, finding nothing he let me go. Waiting for me was the taxi driver with my mispelled name on a piece of paper, he took me to Al Nazih Pension, Jamal welcomed me and took my passport and promised to give it back the next day. The dorm rooms are nice with sturdy beds, there is one dude in my room already sleeping, Peter from Belgium, the room was a bit hot, the fan was pointed at Peter but later on it got cooler, another dude came, Orhan from Turkey. I could not sleep not due to heat but I think I was overly tired adrenaline was pumping.
I got to chat with my roommates the next day, Peter invited me to walk around the city with him, but first
breakfast at a small shop 3 minutes away from the hostel, good Lebanese pizza I cant remember what they call it. 1st stop is the huge blue domed mosque near our hotel it is so beautiful inside, I was awestruck, then the big church, mosques and church you can see left and right in the city, I was not expecting a modern European looking city but the main part of town is just that, it is quite beautiful even the souq is in an a/c building, I was expecting a regular busy , dirty and noisy souq I was disappointed for the modernity I saw but Beirut is being overdeveloped as we speak, buildings being built left and right and the bullet ridden left overs from war were being fixed. We walked around for hours, we got lost but we got help from friendly locals, we followed the corniche and ended up at the American University where we had lunch at the food stalls across the entrance.
Before visiting the museum we decided to head to Sabra to see the Palestinian settlement or camp, it is like oriental Asia, crowded streets with everything under the sun being sold, I
see Palestinians,Indians and Oriental Asians buying in the market, the taxi whom we contracted to go through the community did not let us get off and walk the street, from there he took us to a road where before then divides the Christian and the Moslems, and other things, like the building Arafat used to live etc, I must admit I don't really know much about Lebanese history I am just here for the ride as Peter really wanted to see these places, then the driver dropped us at the National museum and asked for $50 for the taxi! Peter refused to pay it and gave him instead 50,000 dibdobs, he wasnt happy and he gave us his phone number in case we want to go to Tripoli or Byblos with him,yeah right, sucker! We threw away his card soon as we got off, Peter refused to share the fare with me, it's his last day in Lebanon and he really wanted to see Sabra so he decided to shoulder the bill, nice of him, I paid for the museum which was a mere 5,000 dibdobs each.
The museum is simple but quite interesting, it features things recovered around
the country from the Hellenistic, Phoenician and before Christ's era artefacts, jewelleries, sarcophagus, ceramics, mosaic floorings, ancient statues etc. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the fact that photo is allowed with no flash. I went to the toilet afterwards which was outside the museum and discovered in their backyard a lot more artefacts I started to stroll around but was caught by a security guy and was told I am not allowed to go there, bummer. We took a share taxi to the Corniche to see the Pigeon islands, not the right time to go as the sun is in the wrong location, photos were overexposed, we then walked back to town form there, tons of tourists in big buses all over the city, hard to believe when just couple years ago it was heavilt damaged by Israeli rockets.
Getting back to the hostel we went past the mpdern souq once again and saw lots of kids playing around with their Filipino and Indian and Sri Lankan nannies tagging along while their parents shop or sit in the posh cafes around the area, I cannot fathom where the money comes from, these guys seem richer than the people living
in my home town Boston, they have awesome cars, dozen Porsches, Mercedez, Audi, wow I am jealous. Iranian president was just here a couple of days ago and posters of him are still seen all over the city, rumor has it that he injected more funds to the Lebanese economy once again and that is probably why I see a posh, very posh city, very expensive for a regular backpacker, my hostel is $17 a night, there is a $10 hostel but very crowded, Talal I think was the name of it. Only consolation is out of town buses and street food is quite cheap, so it balances in the end I guess.
In the eve Orhan joined us to go to Hamar street to smoke some nargile/houkah, we opted to take the #4 collectivo way cheaper than taxi, we found a decent place to sit and smoke some shisha while having beer, we met a family from Germany very nice couple in their early 50's with their disabled son, they travel together to different places around the world with their son, I admire their devotion, it's hard enough to backpack, let alone carry a wheelchair, they have my
respect, and they gave me tips on Myanmar, which I plan to visit soon. 2 beers later the apple flavored shisha fizzled and we went back to the hostel, Orhan met up with his Armenian buddy while Peter and I headed home, I am tired still so we went to bed early.
Peter left very early the next day for the airport, I am off to Tripoli.
Tot: 0.094s; Tpl: 0.049s; cc: 13; qc: 30; dbt: 0.0172s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.2mb