Lebanon Photo: Ivana Kovačević

I know you probably like most of my friends have prejudices when we mention Lebanon and Beirut. I hope that after this text will no longer be so.

My colleagues have started teasing me that I’m going to open my own travel agency and specialize for “bulletproof tourism” tours.

Maybe someday, but Lebanon does not belong to this place. On the contrary, Lebanon is a cosmopolitan, lively, full of contrasts with beautiful hospitable people.

For Lebanon need a visa, you can get it in their embassy in our country (if you are applying so, then is paid) or at the airport in Beirut, fill out and then free.

I called the embassy before the trip to inform and very nice, cultural and pleasant lady explained everything.

We land early morning, the airport is located close to the city so you can easily switch. First, we draw attention at the time, is that everything works. At four in the morning. All.

After little sleep, finally embarking on a tour of the city. Lebanon is a good destination throughout the year, the average temperature in February is 18 degrees.

Given the fact that we were escorted temperature minus, these 18 that greets us is the right summer. In the morning and in the evening you have to have a light jacket, and during the day we even took T-shirt short sleeves (I have a specific case, the menu is still warm). Therefore, and because of this, the first on the beach.

Corniche, promenade, is a popular place where locals and visitors gather to enjoy the wonderful view of the sea. Full of cafes, restaurants and bars, Corniche in the world is considered one of the best and longest promenade by the sea.

Corniche, Beirut Photo: Ivana Kovačević

On the one hand there is a new modern port, which is not inferior to those currently developed the most beautiful harbors in the world. Zaitunay bay is a newly built neighborhood with luxury hotels, restaurants, yacht clubs. This is currently the most modern part of the city. As we walked very long promenade, on the one hand being surrounded tall palm trees and the magnificent new buildings that no problem can compete with Miami and beautiful old churches and mosques and narrow back streets.

Zaitunay bay, Beirut Photo: Ivana Kovačević

The streets are driving expensive cars, from which one can conclude that the population lives well, at least those privileged. In Beirut, there is no middle class.

Lower stock drives the old “Mercedes” and, what is very interestingly, it is surprising that they want to walk: everyone who passes by toots you and ask you whether you want to take you.

Taxis not expensive, do not work on the meter is already known tariff for each part of the city. Given that there is no public transport, you can always raise my hand and any driver will stop and take you. The price of this drive is slightly stronger than the dollar. The official currency is the Lebanese pound and US dollar but all can pay, do not make a difference. At the other end of the promenade in the part of town called Rouche, attraction – “pigeon rocks”. This is where you will find the most beautiful natural phenomenon, a trademark of Beirut.

Pigeon rocks, Beirut Photo: Ivana Kovačević

In the city’s most famous three districts: Hamra, the old center where you will find many souvenir shops and restaurants, Downtown, a new part of the city where the shopping centers, luxury fashion shops, lounges luxury cars ..

Downtown, Beirut Photo: Ivana Kovačević

The third part of the city is a complex of American University in Beirut (AUB). Wonderful environment, all the buildings are old but very well preserved and maintained, and the whole complex is surrounded by parks.

The University was founded in 1866 and today is one of the best universities in the Middle East. We walked the entire complex and I can tell you – here students have the potential to enjoy.

AUB Beirut Photo: Ivana Kovačević

Downtown Beirut is the most important part of the city. Here is located the government and parliament, and their buildings are very impressive.

Beirut is a beautiful, modern city, but if you run into a six-foot concrete blocks enclosed with a wire that go armed, in full battle gear, the soldiers and the police will know that you have stumbled on some state institutions.

Beirut is the difference from other cities and on the sidewalks. They are very high that there would be no parking where you can think of. However, from the point none of these , and as the next measure introduced concrete blocks along the curbs. It does not look nice at all. Especially in parts of the city where everything is modern and expensive, but catches the eye concrete cumbersome structure, free spoil the whole impression.

Beirut Photo: Ivana Kovačević

In the city center you will see buildings from different eras that were created under the influence of different civilizations and almost all are well preserved.

History of Beirut is more than 5 000 years and keeps the legacy of the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs, which extends across the city.

On the square Martyrs of the monument, there is Muhamed Al – Amin Mosque. Beside her, the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. Around them – archaeological site from Roman times. Not far from the site of the Roman baths.

Beirut Photo: Ivana Kovačević

I believe the phrase that make the residents of the city. And the inhabitants of Beirut and Lebanon are wonderful, dear, cultural and friendly people. What are the passenger passer and such are to each other.

It does not matter which religion (at the moment about 40% of the population are Christians, used to form a much larger percentage of the population), they all stick together and fight together to build and maintain their land. Religious divisions are not noticeable.

If your city is not fascinated at first, which I doubt, then the food will knock off your feet. It is interesting that the locals do not eat a lot of fish and seafood.

Meals are mainly based on beef in various forms and salads. Vara anab (cabbage rolls ), Tabula (salad of parsley, onion, tomato and lemon), Fatus (lettuce, tomato and pieces of pita bread) are only a small part of the tasty grub that you can try. Prices in restaurants are the same or slightly more than for us. Prices of food fast food are the same as with us.

The first installment in Beirut we got free and the first wine we ordered. Freedom did not have any reason to honor us, but still, we liked them. Here, unfortunately, not many tourists.

Also, once in the taxi when we wanted to pay for the ride, the taxi driver did not have to give us back the change, we were honored ride. Always honor goes with the sentence “Welcome to Lebanon” and yes, we really felt that way.

Wherever drank coffee, luxurious cafe, restaurant or on the market price of 5-10 dollars. The price of coffee is one hot high. Also you will pay the total ration as much as a cup of coffee.

As I have already noted, Beirut alive 24/7. At night, no less vividly than during the day. Everything is open, everything is working, around the city are full of bars, most with live music. The sounds of their music are natural to us unrecognizable. I’m not such a fan of folk music, but listening to that kind of music when we were there, I have to say that’s not bad. Singing from the soul.

Lebanon is located between Israel and Syria, on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The entry of Israel ramp, also due to the current situation in Syria is not wise to not get out of there by land. When you approach parts of the country bordering the two countries, expect your check points.

Lebanon is one of the few countries in the world where it is possible to spend a morning at the beach and bask in the afternoon to go skiing.

It takes about four hours drive to reach from one end to the other of Lebanon. Along this road you will come across centuries old history, culture and natural beauty. 20 years of civil war, the Lebanese are working hard on rebuilding their country and tourist attractions.

Skiing at the top of the majestic mountains of Lebanon, 225 km of beaches along the Mediterranean Sea, one of the world’s oldest civilizations, are just some of the reasons why you should visit this surreal country.

We headed north to the ancient Phoenician city of Byblos (in Arabic: Bail) oldest town in the world, after which it was named the Bible. It is located about 40 km from the capital. All the way along the coast will run the tourist towns. Almost that are connected and you can not notice when one ended and the next began.

Byblos is a mix of tradition and modernity. Here are the remains of the ancient town, Crusader castle and church, and the area of ​​the old market. It is also known as a place where the Latin alphabet was invented. A lot to explore in this historic city. At the entrance you will come across ancient ruins that have been left by the Phoenicians, and if you pass the city center, you will arrive at the port, which is located here for thousands of years.

If you climb to the top of the castle, located in the port, you will have a view of the entire city. There is a restaurant “Pepe”. It is decorated with photographs and represents a sort of museum of an era. In every restaurant, shop at every turn through the city, you will be welcomed by smiling, friendly and incredibly hospitable locals. It is not hard to fall in love with this ancient port city.

Biblos Photo: Ivana Kovačević

Our road leads to Tripoli. The distance from Byblos about 50 km and is the second largest city and population in Lebanon.

Tripoli is the Arab city, but did not leave me any impression. On the way back to Beirut, we spent an hour in a pleasant conversation with the driver of the van, which is all of our questions and concerns have a concrete answer.

He’s sorry that Tripoli was not experienced as it should, says that we need to know someone in the city to show us and evoked Tripoli in the way it deserves.

Tripoli has only two rivers that flow through the city and has some great places for a holiday. Al to remain to some other time.

Tripoli Photo. Ivana Kovačević

The next morning, over coffee, we planned the way to the south. We were not sure we have time to get a tour of the two cities (Tyre and Sidon) who gave us that day were in the pipeline, so we asked for a recommendation workers in cafe .

A small digression: in addition to Arabic, all speak French and understand English or do not speak perfectly.

Anyway, friendly innkeeper starts explains what and how to do it, but his lady at the next table gets in the word. It was from Tyre, came to business in Beirut and is interested in how and when we planned to go to Tyre.

Explain to her that we would like a cup of coffee while to get down to the bus station (there are two and they are not what you imagine: they are practically gas station / mini moving squares where buses carrying poorer people. The ticket costs about a dollar or two wherever you are drive. only one official bus company or schedule for him to dig out the true happiness).

Ms. us brought out the saving plan: it has something to do for half an hour moving toward Tyre, if we would be honored to give us a ride.

Great, once again courtesy of the local population in a particular case. Of course, we asked her how much it will cost us, what we again get the answer that her desire and duty give us a ride, and that she will repay if eaten in its country and what it has to offer. The track is located 80 km from Beirut.

In addition to Tyre, Vehicle us up to Sidon (Arabic: Saida). When you enter the city first thing you encounter is a football stadium located on the peninsula and who can not splashed on three sides.

City beaches are completely deserted because this is a distinctly Muslim area, and therefore can not serve alcohol. When you arrive in the city of Sidon, you will first see the castle by the sea, which dates from the Crusader period, was built in 1228.

After touring the castle you can visit the Museum of soap, where you will be familiar with the development and production techniques of soap in the region. I Sidon and Tyre in which we can continue to make widely known from the Bible.

Sidon sea Castle Photo: Ivana Kovačević

Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East that has no desert. Cedar wood is also on the flag, but witnesses say that when you go to the Middle East and you see green, you will know that you are in Lebanon.

Lebanon name derives from the Aramaic word laban, which means white as a reference to Mount Lebanon, which is still covered with snow.

Grotte Cana to the cave, which is located 10 km southeast of Tyre and 12 km away from the border with Israel. At this point in the cave Jesus spent some time thinking before he made the first miracle. Legend has it that in this place turned water into wine.

Around the cave there is a rock where his disciples carved all these stories …

Grotte da Cana Photo: Ivana Kovačević

Finally we come to Tyre (Arabic: Sur). By the way, we find banana plantations for which this region is famous. The city has served long and turbulent history, which gave him many historical and cultural attractions. We wandered exotic souks, and peered into the soul of the city. Tyre is the time of ancient Rome was an important city of the Phoenicians, and now here are many ancient monuments. The promenade by the sea, sunset, night slowly falling, it’s time to return to Beirut.

Tyre Photo: Ivana Kovačević

Many of these cities are among the oldest settlements in the world.

In Beirut leaves us a tour of the National Museum. They think that is the epicenter of culture in Lebanon, and this is the place where you can meet with many Phoenician artifacts.

That this museum is located somewhere in Europe, ahead of him would have been long column order to enter, a ticket price would be abnormally high. Thus, the ticket price is three dollars, and there’s next to us were only a few people who want to see everything, visit and explore.

National museum of Beirut Photo: Ivana Kovačević

What are your impressions deal with this trip !?

We discovered scratched just part of Lebanon, were a pair of inspiring cities, kept his head every time we participate in traffic (driving like crazy), met wonderful people, make sure it is secure and safer in Beirut than anywhere else in Europe, and realized how ridiculous prejudices that people have for this country.

Beirut today is a modern city, full of cranes and crane, and that somewhere is the ultimate impression that I carry with me.

In a few years, Beirut will no longer be the same because speed which builds unreal. All the more reason to revisit ..

By: Ivana Kovačević