Fun Fact 1: I could literally go on and on about the amazing country that is Lebanon.
Fun Fact 2: Almost no one has the attention span or patience to read long articles these days.
So I’d like to keep this brief while still letting you all know what a fabulous destination Lebanon is, and why you should be booking your flight out there asap.
FYI – I am Armenian by background, and my parents are Armenians who were raised in Lebanon since their families settled there after the Armenian Genocide, like many other Armenian families. Therefore, I’ve been traveling to Lebanon since I was a little girl and can understand all facets of excitement/apprehension when traveling to the Middle East. So without further ado…
Lebanon’s population is approx. 54% Muslim, 40% Christian, and 6% Druze, which means Lebanon has the highest percentage of Christians among all countries in Middle East. The nation was also under French colonial rule for 20 years after WWI, so you’ll still see a heavy French/European influence there. In a nutshell, there’s a little bit of everything. You will see some women completely covered, for example, and others who are not. You’ll see the beautiful Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque downtown, with a church built right next to it. So yes, you’re in the Middle East, but it’s not that black and white. There’s a reason why Lebanon used to be called the “Paris of the Middle East.” There’s an incredibly diverse culture where people have co-existed for generations.
One of my favorite things about Lebanon! The nightlife in Beirut (capital city) is, for a lack of a better word, LIT. People don’t expect it but whether it’s summer or winter, there are so many fabulous lounges, bars, and nightclubs that stay open until 4-5am, and yes, there’s afterparty spots after the main spots close. SKYBAR is a rooftop club that just reopened this summer, and you overlook the Mediterranean while partying with beautiful people and dancing the night away to amazing music. I mean…life complete. BO18 is an old war bunker (not kidding) that’s been transformed to a club and is great for the afterparty scene or during winter time. There’s also amazing pool parties away from the beach further up in the mountains that are also so fun. Seriously, the options are endless…don’t underestimate.
Tabboule, hummus, fattouche, baba ghanoush, bizri, manoushe, knafeh jibneh, kebab…YUM. So many options, not enough characters on this keyboard to describe how delicious they are. Lebanese food is one of the best in the world, just ask Anthony Bourdain 😉 They also happen to have some great wine, like Ksara, Chateau Musar, among others, which make for a great pairing to your meals. And yes, there are a TON of American and European-based restaurants as well to appeal to all palettes. Finally, there are a few late-night food spots that are perfect after a night out – Zaatar W Zeit to name one. It’s a chain Lebanese “fast food” spot, except everything is fresh AF and tastes amazing. A few locations are open 24 hours, so don’t pass that up.
99% of Lebanese people are the kindest and most welcoming I’ve personally ever encountered. When you enter a restaurant, you’re greeted multiple times, and the staff is actually eager to serve you. When you order a beer at the bar (get an Almaza, Mexican-style) they’ll give you a bowl of nuts and bar bites to munch on for free. You are usually always welcomed with a smiling face by someone who is happy to help if you need it, whether they are in the hospitality business or not. It’s just part of the culture there.
5. SEASONAL ACTIVITIES
I already touched upon the fact that Beirut is a city right on the Mediterranean Sea, right? In case I wasn’t clear, Beirut is a city built right on the Mediterranean Sea. Yes. All the beach resorts (and there are some really glamorous ones) in the country have their Mediterranean as their backdrop. The same Mediterranean that you enjoy so much when you go to Italy. Yes, that one. Not to mention the beautiful mountains that are more inland, so once winter months roll around, you can go up to the ski resorts and ski/snowboard to your heart’s content. Or just skip right to the après-ski like I would. Yes. You can do all of this in a country about the same size as the state of Connecticut.
So there you have it…now book a ticket and get out there already. Sure, the Middle East can seem a little daunting for anyone to travel to. You just don’t hear many people saying they’re jetting off to Lebanon like you do about Greece or Croatia, but seriously, it is overall very safe and totally worth it. Part of the fun of traveling is having an open mind and allowing yourself to experience something new, and I can promise that Lebanon does not disappoint.
Until next time, boujies! -R