I am just 1 week back from Lebanon and decided to write down my impression of the trip.
First of all the flight was very comfortable. I used Etihad airlines to and MEA back and might truly recommend Etihad for the better comfort and friendliness of the staff.
The airport of Beirut is small and simply organized. Most nationalities get their visa free of charge on arrival at the airport. Only one warning is you cannot have any Israeli stamps or notations in your passport. They were very thorough checking this.
You could not lose the way to a taxi stand. The worst thing at the airport is the crowd of taxi drivers who are practically forcing new comers to use their cars for double the price.
Mostly locals do not speak English or pretend they do not understand. Two other thing which struck me badly the people smoke too too much and litter without thinking. You feel a bit confused to notice the military and police check points everywhere, partly ruined city with traces of the civil war from the Protected content .
Beirut’s architecture is not an example of art, majority streets look shabby and ugly, even comparatively new buildings are ordinary and tasteless. Almost all historical places and buildings of the capital were destroyed. Some of them were rebuilt, some of still look like invalids with holes instead of windows. Although there are lots of construction sites and beautiful uninhabited low storey streets in the down town. What was surprising is the numerous churches, mosques, chapels, nicely reconstructed and absolutely beautifully designed. I think these are the real soul of Lebanon, peaceful on the surface, religious and contradictive much deeper.
My 3 stars hotel in the main (Hamra) street was the place to sleep only, worthy of its price. Unfortunately, a non-smoking room was not quite different from a smoking one. I have to note that the receptionist was just a sweet girl, helpful, in tune with events and sightseeing. There are crowds of tourists and citizens on the main street, small shops and cozy cafes, food is delicious, people are relaxed, traffic is horrible.
I was absolutely happy with the weather constantly warm, sunny and cloudless. April is the great time for exploring of Lebanon.
My plan was not only to visit common tourist routs but to do some hiking, rafting and snow shoeing with local eco groups. So I would like to recommend Footprint group ( Protected content ) as well organized. I have done with them hiking in Ouyoun El-Samak. It was an amazing place green and blossoms. With another group I did snowshoeing in Tannourine nature reserve of Cedars ( Protected content ). I could not describe the fresh spring strong fragrance of melting snow with bright sunny blossoms of the apple trees on the top of the mountain.
For the group excursion I used to use Nakhal tour agency ( Protected content ) which provided comfortable transportation, professional guides (English, French, Turkish, Arabic, Spanish speaking) and good quality Lebanese cuisine lunches.
Rafting has never happened because of a high level of water in Al-Assi River which was marked our tour guide as the best for that kind of extreme experience. It was the only one disappointment. Any way I tried to organize that and had nice responses from Skileb company ( Protected content ) . Next time inshaala!!!
Guys, it was a fantastic trip. Ask me for details if you are planning to visit Lebanon. I would be happy to share. Look at my Lebanon photo album))).
I am very appreciated the Internations.com for my new real friends in Lebanon who were guiding me around the country and made my visit magnificent. Here they are: Maha Sayed, Nadine Ahmad and Joseph Jwan.
April, 15, Protected content .