Beirut is a city by the Mediterranean Sea facing West. Huge, multi-million residents. Mountains just behind or East, somewhat like LA or San Francisco but much closer and higher mountains with the city climbing the sides.
Our hotel is in a community up the mountain about 30 minutes from the city proper. Long way from the sea but can see it and the city clearly whenever we travel down hill. Sunsets spectacular. Birds everywhere, first wildlife I saw: pigeons.
City features few Western-style skyscrapers of glass and steel, instead, thousands of all off-white stone, cement, or manufactured stone-surfaced highrises maybe 20-30 stories at most with smaller windows and less glass than Western buildings, probably due to the constant sun. Many residential buildings have huge canopy-like curtains hanging from the top of the balcony to shield the sun and heat.
The Lebanon flag is a distinctive one: a red band on the top and bottom covering about one-third of the flag with a wide, white band in the middle two-thirds. In the middle of the white is a green Cedar of Lebanon. Red, white, and green. Beautiful.
Boiled eggs and goat cheese for breakfast, along with Nescafe coffee brewed in my cup at the table, served like tea with hot water and makings, very strong, which I like. Also black olives with every meal, salty and not bad but not my favorite.
English-language CNN available on the tube and maybe one other English station, the rest Arabic of course, along with some French. Lebanon has a French colonial history, so people here speak Arabic, French, and maybe English. My cab-driver spoke no English, but we got to "J'mapelle Joe" and Rex.
People at the hotel call me "Mr. Rex." I thought this was because they had confused my last name until I heard them address others in a similar way. The hotel key is attached to a bolt-shaped piece of gold metal that weighs a good pound or more. Probably won't forget it's in my pocket.
Went to another Lebanese restaurant tonight at 7:30 pm, ordered meal about 8:20 and it came a half hour later. Long mealtimes. Left the restaurant at almost 11:00 pm. Restaurant was a huge outdoor patio on the side of a mountain over-looking a deep valley. Patio covered by various canopies, lots of flowers, seating areas part couches with cushions, part straight-back chairs. Interesting place. Ate raw liver, chicken wings, sausages, a sort of hush puppie with beef inside, salads, and more. Dessert here is about 10-12 kinds of fruits placed on the table in bowls. Cantaloupe and watermelon fantastic.
For those who wish, meals end with a small cup of Turkish Coffee. Strong enough to kill a moose, probably why I didn't sleep much at all last night--either that or the jetlag. Restaurants we've been to both had pools of water with frogs in them that made an incredible racket. Few or no bugs. Balmy, pleasant to sit outdoors into late evening.
Full moon out tonight over the mountains populated by thousands of lights in the dark. Looks like San Francisco.
Saw Martha Stewart on a TV channel called "Fatafeat." Found out this word means "Crums," their version of the Food Channel.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.