February 13, 2016

Beirut 7 AM

On the way to the beach at 7 AM: Beirut is still asleep

We've  just won another tourist award. The readers of Conde Nast Travellers found Beirut to be one of the most beautiful cities to visit. We won 11th place, in fact. I am not sure who reads that magazine, but the profile says that the average reader is about 55, and has an income of around $109,000.

I will not argue with their choice. Beirut IS one of the best cities in the world to visit. Especially if you make 109,000 a year. But if you want to live here, the $109,000 wouldn’t carry you very far, especially if you have kids, and you’d want to experience the luxuries that Conde Nast Travellers promises.

But even without that income, Beirut is a city that leaves an impression, although I cannot pinpoint what it is. Those that have lived here, and had to leave (one does not leave Beirut voluntarily) carry this town forever in their blood, and try to give it a place; it’s what I call Beirut Syndrome.  Beirut can leave you with an experience that cannot be equaled by most places, especially the more organized ones.

Yesterday I had a discussion with some friends about it, as we drove home, and got stuck in traffic for an hour. We decided that one of its main attraction is that Beirut is a living city. In most cities in the world, when it’s five o’clock, the working population leaves town to their homes in the suburbs, and the city is dead. There may be an area where there are cinemas and pubs and restaurants that remain semi-alive, but the town closes up. Just like the people, the city goes to sleep: Lights go out, doors lock and people are quiet. Not so in Beirut, because people live in Beirut. Life may slow down between 12 PM and 7 AM, but the city never goes to sleep.  That’s a positive, but also a drawback; the horrendous traffic jams these days.
Another lady walking her dog, and feeding the beach dogs
I don’t notice them much, because I walk to work, I walk to the super market and I walk to the restaurants. And I could walk to the beach in the morning to walk the dogs, but that’s a bit far (1.7 km: I have become Lebanese), so I took the car.
Beirut is still asleep at 7 AM. No traffic. Plenty of parking spaces. And I walked on the beach as the sun was rising above the town.
I agree with readers of Conde Nast Travellers;  Beirut is one of the most beautiful cities to visit. Now if they would all actually come and spent some of that money here, we might be doing a little better. 

Walking the dog at 7AM in the morning

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