Crazy, wild wonderful Beirut. This glamorous city has it all. Dance all night, smoke shisha with someones grandmother; shop in the chic-est of boutiques. Current and ancient history collide on every corner, sculptures of modern poets and politicians vie for your attention with antique ruins. Insane drivers and fearless pedestrians lay claim to the rule-shy streets. The bad old days are gone. I felt safe and exhilarated. People are welcoming, generous; thrilled you have come and will bend over backwards to make this your favourite city.
Eat: Em Sherif Cafe. Tourists in horrible khaki shorts (there are alternatives people), Saudi hoi poli in Chanel, and fashionable locals all rub elbows in this casual restaurant. The service is friendly and efficient, the Lebanese food fresh and delicious and the people watching amazing. In good weather sitting outside is a must. Grab a quick bite or sit for hours as we did. Be sure to note the rather phallic sign for the men’s loo.
See: The National Museum. This Egyptian revival style building is fully restored from horrific war damage and beautifully laid out with fabulous archeological treasures. The upper floor gives a good chronological history of the region. But it is the Phoenician anthropomorphic sarcophagi display in the basement that makes this a must visit. Stunning! The small gift shop is worth a look if you want something unique to bring home.
Stay: two dream options with completely different atmosphere. Both wows! Le Gray is sophisticated modern chic, the Albergo is old world charm. Both have everything you could need including rooftop pools, amazing service and great locations. Pick the one that suits your style or better yet divide your stay between the two and experience them both.