Posted by: englishdubai | September 27, 2009

A Guide to a Lad’s Weekend in Beirut


It had been a long hot dusty Ramadan this summer and there was palpable excitement in Dubai as the Eid holiday approached. Nearly everyone I spoke to had some plans for going away or spending it with their families and the mood was really upbeat.

Me and some of the lads took advantage of the new low cost airline www.flydubai.com to get over to Beirut for the Eid for only $245. Coupled with a reasonably priced hotel – Casa D’or (about $60 each a night) located in the always alive Hamra area and we had the makings of an enjoyable break.

We crammed a lot into the four days we were there. However there is so much to see and do and it didn’t help that by the time we had got out of bed and had brekkie/lunch it was typically well gone 1pm which did hamper choices a little. So in order to give you a little taste here are the highlights of the trip.

The Corniche and Mostafa’s

The first day after the obligatory trip to Lina’s Cafe we went for an exploratory walk. We set off from Hamra down the Corniche and walked along the coast. The weather made it for warm work and we soon in need of some refreshment.

The local beer is called Almaza and its light, refreshing and very drinkable. We searched along the Corniche for somewhere to quench our thirst but the first couple of places did not meet our requirements. Until nearly at the end of the corniche was a small place called “Nina’s”

One of the braver lads volunteered to go in and check it out:

“Hamza? You have Hamza? Five” uttered Duncan with forthright confidence whilst waving his arms about

“Shoo?” said the proprietor

“You know – Hamza, Hamza!” Duncan spluttered

A look of confusion crossed the jovial owner of the cafe.

“Ummm. Duncan. I think you mean Almaza” chirped up one of the more on the ball lads

“Yes. Yes. Hamza errrr…Almaza – five?” Duncan stammered

“ALMAZA! Yes we have it”

Turns out that Hamza is Arabic for the word apostrophe. Suffice to say Duncan was made not to forget the fact that Hamza is not arabic for the amber nectar.

Mostafa the proprietor of Nina’s took a bit of a shine to us and took the time to tell us a couple of jokes. Here he is in full flow:

We liked him back and returned to his place on a daily basis for a cold “Hamza” and the chance to sit on his terrace that provided an awesome view of the sea. We affectionately renamed his cafe to “Mostafa’s”. If you want to find it – just walk past the Movenpick and it is the first Cafe you come to.

Gemayzé

From Long Street in Cape Town to Kings Cross in Sydney I love cities that have streets full of pubs, clubs and restaurants and Gemayzé street can easily hold its head up high in such company.

As a group of guys we had no issue in entering any of the many bars that inhabit that street. A couple that we went into:

1. Cactus – a tex-mex bar with loud eighties pop music and strong cocktails

2. Cloud 9 – too cool for school bar that is a good place to be seen in

3. Caviar – even cooler than school. With sophisticated crowd listening to “uplifting techno” or so said the flyer

4. Lakay – A Caribbean restaurant with a funky Latin theme. Was popular with birthday parties

5. The Melting Pot – An American style dinner with a soundtrack of 80s Power Ballads all heartily sung along to by the boys

However the charm of Gemayzé Street is the numerous small bars that at anyone time can just be rockin’. Our strategy was to find a place that looked lively and to get involved. The prices were reasonable in comparison to Dubai with a beer about $5 and a mixed drink about $10. However that mixed drink is like rocket fuel usually with just enough mixer to change the colour of the drink.

I admit. We stood out like a sore thumb however there were a few other small groups of western tourists which can only be a good sign.

Here are lads – “Havin’ it” late night in some obscure bar:

Eddé Sands

Eddé Sands is located just outside Byblos and takes about 20km from central north of Beirut by taxi. It is a beautiful beach resort that you can enjoy for a $20 entry fee. Sadly the day we went rain had been forecast. Despite that our British stiff upper lip took over and us and 20 other brave souls enjoyed the slightly overcast day to enjoy a day by the Mediterranean. I am told that this place is party central during the summer. I will have to go back – just to be sure. In the meanwhile we were treated to a spectacular sun set:

Paintball

As the shy retiring type I chose to mooch around the renovated down town Beirut with some Lebanese friends. The rest of the lads decided to shoot the living “wotsit” out of each other at an indoor paint ball venue. Apparently there is a choice of music for added effect:

1. Pop

2. Rock

3. Arabic Pop

4. Koran

I am sure they all mean something to some one – I understand the guys shot each other only to accompaniment of their own howls of pain. Judging by the bruises I was shown I think I made the right choice. Below the victorious blue team show their steel before a series of engagements:

Riviera

After several hard nights of over-indulging and shooting each other we were happy to get some downtime at a pool. There are a couple of good pool clubs in central Beirut one being La Plage and the other the Riviera Hotel.

The pool at the Riviera is a sight to behold. Large white concrete circles surround the pool give it a 70s kitsch look that today is the height of fashion. Again, the slightly overcast weather kept the place quiet but we all enjoyed lying out in the cool – a welcome break from the searing heat and humidity of Dubai.

Despite it being quiet there were still a lot to see. Here are a few of the chaps enjoying the view:

White

No weekend in Beirut is complete without a visit to one of the “Super Clubs” be it Skybar, Music Hall or White. My friend had waved his wasta wand and managed to get a table at White for the last night of our stay.

The door policy at these places is quite draconian. Despite us being the first people into the club with the promise of lots of ladies joining us later and having a reservation the seven lads had some trouble getting in. However, once resolved we were rocking it.

We had dinner to start the night off and the food was excellent. Then with a super efficient bottle service all the guys were in a great mood (A litre of rum $120). This mood was further lifted as we were joined by some rather beautiful company.

We all enjoyed the night – the music was great. Remixed oldies, uplifting house and the classic bit when all the lights in the club came on and the DJ gave it some

“This is Beirut”

We went nuts along with the rest of the crowd. All the signature moves came out that night from the lads:

1. The napkin dance

2. The garden sprinkler

3. The crab

4. The spear dance

5. The jig of desperation

and I think I even spotted an attempt at some limbo. Still all were received with good grace and predictably we not only the first table going nuts but the last ones to leave. It has not been since Kiev and the night club Decadence had all the boys partied so hard for so long.

It was made even better as I had my two favourite Beirut Habibtis to party with:

Four days, seven lads and one hospital visit made for an epic lads trip. To my readers outside of the middle east. Take a chance  – go and visit Lebanon and Beirut. It is truly a wondrous country with warm people who want to party all night.

I have the good fortune that I occasionally visit Beirut for business but this time I got to see it with different eyes and I was not left disappointed.


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