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Beirut: green and bustling...

For several years now, we have been making out-of-town weekend excursions once a year with four of my close friends from high school. We had enjoyed the Cappadocia tour the year before so much that we were brooding over "how to fit an even livelier journey into a weekend" that year. Another friend from high school came to our rescue, and said, "Why don't you go to Beirut? Not only is it close as if you were in Turkey, but it also has a colorful and fun culture, and it is an ideal historical destination," which suddenly clarified it all for us. We said, "We're going to Beirut." Of course, the fact that our friend who recommended Beirut lived there was also a relief.

We left on Friday evening, had a late dinner upon our arrival, and went to a local cabaret. On Saturday, we saw the Jeita cave and the ancient/seaside town Byblos. Finally, on Sunday, we went to the modern/rich port section of Beirut, and after a 15-minute walk, saw the sectarian conflict-stricken poor neighborhoods. After dinner, we went to the airport, and arrived in Istanbul by night. If you want to fit fun, rich history and culture, and a beautiful sea into a short weekend, I can't think of a better address than Beirut, which is one of the most cosmopolitan cities, home to multiple religions, in the world. The fact that Beirut, which we thought would be dry, turned out to be lush with its low mountain ranges was the cherry on the cake for us…

A colorful city: Beirut

What do you see in lush Beirut reborn after the war?

  • Beirut is multireligious, and the second largest tourism and finance center in the Middle East in terms of money spent.
  • It is a surprisingly green city, where the well-to-do live comfortably, and have lots of fun.
  • It has a port area in the city center that was literally built from scratch after the war, and a more appealing and sophisticated modern face compared to Dubai.
  • The other side of the coin, though, is disconcerting – there is a serious security issue driven by Hezbollah.
  • One of the things I liked most is the very colorful and balanced distribution of places of worship that reflects the almost equally divided Moslem/Christian structure. And the call for prayer in the city sounds very gentle.
  • The climate is very mild, the average temperature being 240C.

Beyaz ülke, Lübnan

What I found interesting in Lebanon;

  • The country of the Phoenicians, Lebanon, which means “White Country”, was named after the white tip of Mount Lebanon. By the way, winter tourism is said to be very good, which is worth a try.
  • The economy is based on banking, tourism and agriculture. It has a particularly long history in finance – it was once known as “the Switzerland/Paris of the Orient”.
  • Did you know that Lebanon is the country that attaches the highest importance to human rights in the Middle East, and that it has a considerable ranking in the world as the 26th country?
  • Income per capita is the same as in Turkey…
  • 20% of the population left during or after the civil war between ’75 and ’90, which is the bitter reality of this country that we all know… There are also Palestinian refugees that have been living in Lebanon for long years, and their refugee camps.

My recommendations for a short weekend:

  • see the limestone formations, all natural wonders, in the Jeita cave,
  • visit the ancient town of Byblos, and enjoy yourself in a seaside restaurant,
  • stroll in the modern port built recently in the city center,
  • listen to live music in the "Music Hall",
  • enjoy your evening on the roof of Hotel Le Gray.
Kind regards,

Mehmet N. Pekarun