There’s only one real public beach in Beirut; Ramlet el-Baida, or white sands.
I remember during my very first summer month in Lebanon, I went to the Ramlet el-Baida beach on my own in a bathing suit. I drove there on my motorbike, towel on the back. After all, you do that in Holland too. I don't remember what scene that caused. None that I can remember.
When I went into the water, (remember, I was quite young and cute then), so would the entire male population of the beach, and when I would get out, so would all the men. There was even a group of Syrian soldiers (didn’t know they were Syrians then, just thought they were Lebanese regulars), that were based near Beau Rivage (an occupied hotel where the Syrian Military Secret Service conducted ‘interviews’).
The name ‘Beau Rivage’ in those days had a very ominous ring to it, like the proverbial ‘one way ticket’. Hubbie once spent a couple of nights there in the late 80’s. He still has the jacket he wore the night they picked him up, and he’s quite attached to it, because he came out again. There’s scores and scores of people who knew loved ones that were brought there, and then vanished. Forever.
Nobody bothered me on the beach that day, though. Maybe it was because of the Syrians. You didn’t want to mess with those guys. The name ‘Ramlet el Baida’ these days is synonymous with luxurious high rise apartments. What a pity; you’re looking out over a wide sandy beach but you can’t/won’t lie on it.Anyway, these thoughts came up this afternoon as I took a variety of dogs, kids and cousins for a walk on the beach; Ramlet el Baida. It’s not summer yet, so the beach is not crowded, but the weather was gorgeous.