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Friday, February 23, 2007

World Travels: Beirut


The Watering Hole
When I think of a watering hole, I don't think of a bar— but rather a secluded and quiet place, with a little brook and a convenient tree to lean against. Of course, there is a peaceful and playful breeze gently blowing. It's a retreat and a place of reflection. The mountains of Lebanon are just that for many.

Home of 130 waterfalls and incredible landscapes, Jezzine is among the most renowned summer resorts. The town is surrounded by pine forests, vineyards and orchards. From the top of the towering rocky peninsula of al Shir, the visitor enjoys a breathtaking view of surrounding areas.

The homes, however, are what keep the locals tethered to the region. Many are built of granite and limestone and are unlike anything you have ever seen.

Spinning the Night
DJ Mahmoud Kaabour caught in action
The atmosphere of Beirut’s nightlife is distinctly playful, as young Beirutis converge with a singular mindset, bent on living in the moment.

Crowds gather at Torino Express, a popular spot off the beaten path in Beirut, for cozy ambiance, trendy music and its friendly staff (think Cheers in Lebanon). One big plus is that it’s apt to stay open as long as people are buying.

The View from the Balcony
Sometimes just sitting and looking at life's ordinary events tells us a lot about ourselves and the people around us. As the late afternoon envelops Beirut’s residents, they take refuge on the balcony, sipping coffee and thinking of tomorrow. Some spot their future spouse (or so they tell themselves) or watch the crazy drivers. As the afternoon turns to night, many retire to the nightly news. It is fruitless as they have already watched the truly meaningful events of the day.

Cricket in Ain Saade
On a Sunday afternoons in the village of Ain Saade, young men take to a makeshift cricket field to resolve the week’s conflict as sportsmen.
The Coffee Peddler
He walks the streets with his silver jugs, lifting the lazy, the tired and the lonely. They come to this portable Starbucks to laugh and to taste his humble brew.

Model in training
Dreams of becoming Paris runway models are ever present—even in the back alleys of Achrafieh.

The Color Yellow
In a country of economic extremes, it is quite uncommon to see unparalleled extravagance. Here three cars, with mind-blowing value, paint a city street yellow with opulence.