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AlfieMoon

Beirut, Lebanon

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Did a quick search of the board before creating a new thread. I can see that some may have passed through Lebanon on route to the Israel match last year...

Generally looking for any thoughts on Beirut and wider Lebanon for a visit of around 7/8 days. 

I know there's some tensions just now (isn't there always?) - so looking to establish whether it is worth a visit and any views on safety issues. The FCO website paints a pretty dark picture but I think that's pretty normal for them and the reality is often somewhat less dangerous. 

 

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2 hours ago, AlfieMoon said:

Did a quick search of the board before creating a new thread. I can see that some may have passed through Lebanon on route to the Israel match last year...

Generally looking for any thoughts on Beirut and wider Lebanon for a visit of around 7/8 days. 

I know there's some tensions just now (isn't there always?) - so looking to establish whether it is worth a visit and any views on safety issues. The FCO website paints a pretty dark picture but I think that's pretty normal for them and the reality is often somewhat less dangerous. 

 

My mate worked there for a bit last year and came back absolutely raving about it. He's spoken about taking his family there on holiday so I doubt security is as big an issue as the foreign office would have us all believe. 

Wasn't it once dubbed the St. Tropez of the middle East or summat like that? If there's something specific you're looking for I can ask him but unless something has changed I would say go for it! 

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3 minutes ago, slasher said:

My mate worked there for a bit last year and came back absolutely raving about it. He's spoken about taking his family there on holiday so I doubt security is as big an issue as the foreign office would have us all believe. 

Wasn't it once dubbed the St. Tropez of the middle East or summat like that? If there's something specific you're looking for I can ask him but unless something has changed I would say go for it! 

Yep - Paris of the Middle East I think it is said. 

Lots of reviews have it down as an amazing place - real lively vibe and great cultural mix, party scene and history. It's been in the back of my mind to go for a while but now we're looking at booking with only 1 week notice I'm just wanting to be sure. 

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Did it on the way out to Israel last year.

7/8 days for Lebanon is probably on the long side...... I had effectively a full day there and did Byblos (ancient settlement town a hour up the coast), the cable car up to the Mary Statue and Church and then the Grotto Caves, and this was me back at the hotel for 4pm after a 9am start.

Beirut itself is actually a pretty "interesting place".... can only describe my hotel location as "downtown Baghdad" and certainly was looking over my shoulder when I ventured out.... yet couple of turns and along a street or two, and suddenly slap bang in the middle of Martyrs square, then the shopping area with Gucci, Armani, Louis Vuitton etc shops (this is certainly where it gets its Paris of the Middle East!).

Only way I can describe it is "Belfast on steroids".... once the initial "shock" of being in this place that made headline news throughout the 70's and 80's eases, its actually a brilliant place with fantastic locals.

My tour guide, while as intimidating as f**k (all day I got the feeling he was sounding me out to see if I was going to Israel) was totally brand new (no task to small! I had left my camera memory card at home in my laptop, and told him if he knew anywhere.... next thing he was on his phone asking around and stopped at 3 shops, and then haggled the price down at a shop to get me one!).

Then took me to this brilliant restaurant at the bottom of the famous cable car, and for a whole hour was treated like a God! 

Money I advice to take dollars! Locals love them and actually really disappointed if you pay in local money!

I actually hope we draw Israel again, as I would do the same route again (Beirut-Amman-Tel Aviv) and this time maybe lose a night in Amman and swap it for a extra night and day in Beirut.

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Was posted to Beirut twice on short-term (1 month) work assignments a few years ago. Loved the place and would echo what Slasher's mate has said.

Security not an issue, although normal common-sense rules apply, as in all places.

You'll love it - heartily recommend you take the opportunity to visit and find out why for yourself.

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32 minutes ago, wanderer said:

Did it on the way out to Israel last year.

7/8 days for Lebanon is probably on the long side...... I had effectively a full day there and did Byblos (ancient settlement town a hour up the coast), the cable car up to the Mary Statue and Church and then the Grotto Caves, and this was me back at the hotel for 4pm after a 9am start.

Beirut itself is actually a pretty "interesting place".... can only describe my hotel location as "downtown Baghdad" and certainly was looking over my shoulder when I ventured out.... yet couple of turns and along a street or two, and suddenly slap bang in the middle of Martyrs square, then the shopping area with Gucci, Armani, Louis Vuitton etc shops (this is certainly where it gets its Paris of the Middle East!).

Only way I can describe it is "Belfast on steroids".... once the initial "shock" of being in this place that made headline news throughout the 70's and 80's eases, its actually a brilliant place with fantastic locals.

My tour guide, while as intimidating as f**k (all day I got the feeling he was sounding me out to see if I was going to Israel) was totally brand new (no task to small! I had left my camera memory card at home in my laptop, and told him if he knew anywhere.... next thing he was on his phone asking around and stopped at 3 shops, and then haggled the price down at a shop to get me one!).

Then took me to this brilliant restaurant at the bottom of the famous cable car, and for a whole hour was treated like a God! 

Money I advice to take dollars! Locals love them and actually really disappointed if you pay in local money!

I actually hope we draw Israel again, as I would do the same route again (Beirut-Amman-Tel Aviv) and this time maybe lose a night in Amman and swap it for a extra night and day in Beirut.

 

28 minutes ago, Barney Rubble said:

Was posted to Beirut twice on short-term (1 month) work assignments a few years ago. Loved the place and would echo what Slasher's mate has said.

Security not an issue, although normal common-sense rules apply, as in all places.

You'll love it - heartily recommend you take the opportunity to visit and find out why for yourself.

 

Cheers! Is it generally advisable to get a tour guide? 

I kinda thought that 7/8 days might be a bit long but I'm kinda stuck for other ideas. October week pricing is mental everywhere so seems like a not bad excuse to go somewhere different. My other idea had been Israel but I think I'd need 10-14 days to do it justice and get over to Petra and back. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by AlfieMoon

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Flights between Beirut and Amman are pretty reasonable and frequent (the journey time from Amman Airport to Amman actually takes longer) and is a really good option.

Amman actually surprised me, and while I did not find it as good as Beirut (Beirut certainly has the more European vibe to it) it was another highlight on a great trip (game aside).... I did Petra on a day trip from Amman, left at 7am, 2.5 hours to get down full day at Petra, then 2.5 hours to get back and was in Amman for 8pm (fantastic bar scene by the way!)

I would say hire a guide to do all the leg work for you, can get some good prices, plus driving in Lebanon is really taking your life into your own hands..... drive from Beirut up to Byblos was mental!!!! You have something like 5 lanes of traffic, on a road with only 2 lanes!

Also this is where it kicks in where exactly you are.... road up to Byblos, guide commented "if we take this turn off and take that road over there, we can be in Damascus in a couple of hours, temped?" (and the little Michael Palin voice in my head actually was 😂) and continued "and if we drive fror 2 solid days, it will take us to Baghdad!"

Plus everything is so spread out, so you need a guide with a car (next visit I want to visit the runs at Baalbek.

Edited by wanderer

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7 minutes ago, wanderer said:

Flights between Beirut and Amman are pretty reasonable and frequent (the journey time from Amman Airport to Amman actually takes longer) and is a really good option.

Amman actually surprised me, and while I did not find it as good as Beirut (Beirut certainly has the more European vibe to it) it was another highlight on a great trip (game aside).... I did Petra on a day trip from Amman, left at 7am, 2.5 hours to get down full day at Petra, then 2.5 hours to get back and was in Amman for 8pm (fantastic bar scene by the way!)

I would say hire a guide to do all the leg work for you, can get some good prices, plus driving in Lebanon is really taking your life into your own hands..... drive from Beirut up to Byblos was mental!!!! You have something like 5 lanes of traffic, on a road with only 2 lanes!

Also this is where it kicks in where exactly you are.... road up to Byblos, guide commented "if we take this turn off and take that road over there, we can be in Damascus in a couple of hours, temped?" (and the little Michael Palin voice in my head actually was 😂) and continued "and if we drive fror 2 solid days, it will take us to Baghdad!"

Plus everything is so spread out, so you need a guide with a car (next visit I want to visit the runs at Baalbek.

Byblos, Baalbek and Beqqa Valley are the trips that might make it realistic to pad out a full week there. Tripoli is a no-go according to FCO though. 

Thanks for the Amman suggestion - I'll have a look but think I'll probably wait until I'm visiting Israel. 

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17 minutes ago, AlfieMoon said:

Byblos, Baalbek and Beqqa Valley are the trips that might make it realistic to pad out a full week there. Tripoli is a no-go according to FCO though. 

Thanks for the Amman suggestion - I'll have a look but think I'll probably wait until I'm visiting Israel. 

You could probably do all that in 3/4 days, but from my limited time there I still feel the week is probably over kill.

Also, if you visit Israel afterwards, be prepared for some tough questions on what you were doing in Lebanon..... the girl at the land border certainly went wide eyed when she spotted the stamp in my passport.... and I could tell by the look on her face that she was shocked that I had legit reasons for being there (mentioned the Bylbos ancient site and the grotto caves... Israeli sports journalist I met in Tel Aviv said "you went off script and chances are she has never heard of these places!").... leaving the country was just as bad also (I got the infamous "level 5" stamp on my leaving card, which meant my bag being emptied and asked to "step over here for a moment for a few questions").

Edited by wanderer

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Also I strongly recommend Jeita Grotto! Only way I can describe it is visiting the inside of Tim Burton or Guillermo del Toro head!

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