From a Dutch perspective of course. For the Lebanese this weather does not at all qualify a beach day; too windy, too early, too cold. We Dutch however are used to such pathetic summers in Holland, that today counts as beach day. Mind you, all the beach clubs were still closed, but who did I spot on an otherwise sandy and deserted beach? A fellow Dutchie, I kid you not! That just shows you.
The good sandy beaches (apart from the public Ramlet el-Baida) are north and south of Beirut. I went to an area we call Jiyeh, which is a stretch of coast some 35 kilometers south of Beirut, where many sandy beaches are located. The vast majority of those are private beaches, but since none of them were operating yet, the beaches were free today. No parasols or lounge chairs, waiters with cold beer or swimming pools though. Why would you need a swimming pool when you go to the beach, you ask? Well, we don’t really swim in the sea. People prefer the pool. I know, I know, very odd, but every self-respecting beach club has a pool these days. You don’t have to mess with sand and salt water and waves and jelly fish and such. Yep, we like our luxury in this place. We don’t like to sit or lie in the sand either, that’s for children. The moment you walk in, out come the lounge chairs and the chairs, so you don’t have to forego your comfort.
If you’ve never been to Lebanon (and you by chance read this post), you probably had a different impression of this country. But I am telling you, the Lebanese have no desire to rough it.Old Road to Saida (Sidon)
On the way back, I took what is known as the ‘Old Road to Saida (tari’ saida al-adeem)’. It is the road that, until 1993, used to be the only connection between Beirut and the South. A two-lane country road, maneuvered by traffic into a four-lane road while going at break neck speed in both directions. It was basically a constant traffic jam. Since the new highway has been opened, it has become a lazy country road again, and is only busy in times when the Israelis bomb the bridges over the highway. Or the overpasses. Or the highway itself. The warm weather brought out the scooter squad by the thousands. And they’re all popping wheelies on the highway, two on a scooter, going 60 km/ph, without helmets. Hey, it’s not my life. The police then comes by and confiscates them by the thousands as well.
Which in turn leads to near-riots right on the highway, because now they all have to get an alternative ride home.
Never a dull day in this place. . .