Jul 29, 2009 6:36:39 AM
Travel secret #3: Beirut
‘Beirut is the best kept secret of the Middle East but sadly it is fear that keeps it that way. The name conjures up visions of all that is horrible in man: murder, kidnapping and air raids. But there’s so much more to it.
I have worked in the city in war and peace and I’ve taken my family on holiday there; we once spent a New Year’s Eve in the home of an Armenian family who kept us dancing until dawn. The following day they drove us north to Byblos, birthplace of the written word, where we ate grilled fish at an ancient harbour watched over by an elderly restaurant owner who had once counted some of the world’s best-known movie and singing stares among his clients.
Now rebuilt after the Civil War, Beirut city centre is one of the most handsome in the Mediterranean with its restored Ottoman facades and open-air restaurants. Walk from downtown to the district of Ashrafiya, a stroll of about ten minutes, for the meal of your life in Abdel Wahab on Abdel Wahab el Inglizi Street. Follow it with a drink in any of the buzzing clubs of the area or head back to the ice-cream shops of Raouche and gaze out over the sea and catch the beams of the Ras Beirut lighthouse. It is a gracious and giving city that deserves to see you.‘
What took out the #2 position? Think two for the price of one.
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