When I asked Smartraveller what it thought about me going to Lebanon, it was just like:
Hardly surprising with the bad rap the Middle East constantly gets in the West. And it looks like a particularly savage spot to visit when you see how tightly it’s squeezed by Israel and Syria on the map.
But having visited Afghanistan in December 2015, I’m not one to let fear-mongering travel warnings sway me from discovering what is below the surface in a world poisoned by media propaganda and bullshit. I know that everywhere you go you will find the kindness of humanity and more often than not you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how like-minded people are. Not to mention the societies you’ll find more developed and modernised than your preconceived notions allowed for.
So when my adventurous mate, Luke Kenny, asked me to meet him for a few days of fun and adventure in Beruit, I was like LET’S DO IT.
I didn’t give a shit if my travel insurance refused to insure me for Lebanon. I was going to check out the place where Lebanese bread was born, whether they liked it or not. And off I went to practice my Arabic and make nice with the locals.
Despite what Middle Eastern stereotypes make you think, the country is not completely dominated by Islamic culture and actually “has the most religiously diverse society of all states within the Middle East”. So you know what that means – alcohol isn’t forbidden and the nightlife is boomin’. Although Luke and I were there on a Monday and Tuesday night, we were still able to go out, meet some locals in a gay bar (who were actually straight and liberal) and be shown a damn fine time, two nights in a row. We stayed in Hamra.
Everything they say is true. Lebanon has the best hummus of them all.
We really had limited time and wasted half of our second day in bed (totally worth it for the large-size fun delivered that night). But never mind because some of the most fantastical sightseeing in Beruit can be done by flagging down a taxi and saying ‘take me to Byblos and Jeita Grotto’. We booked the cab through the hotel and totally got ripped off at $140 for the car, but you can do it better by learning from our mistakes.
Anyway, the grottos, which are these epic 12,000 year old caves, and Byblos, which is an old Roman town, were stunning! We weren’t supposed to have cameras in the caves but Luke is a bad ass. So look here!
I know all intrepid travellers advocate the idea of getting lost in foreign cities. But we accidentally did it and it really was very fun. We went looking for this Garden Show & Spring Festival that was supposed to be on in March while we were there. Alas, the website I looked at had the dates wrong. So after much seeking and searching with tough language barriers, Luke and I somehow ended up alone and stuck in a big race course and having to scale the security fence to get out. Long story… use your imagination.
Please feel very free to enjoy this short video demonstrating our fair dinkum time in Beruit. And then consider that not once did we feel like there was any threat of danger. And remember that if you ever do get caught up in any sort of dangerous or unpleasant conflict, it’s generally going to be an unfortunate case of wrong place, wrong time. So now go plan your trip to visit Lebanon.