I ended up having to extend my Istanbul trip right until the point where I went to Beirut, meaning I had only 3 hours in between flights and no time to go home and pack for the next trip, so of course I just HAD to pop into Zara to buy some new clothes. Looking back I realize it was completely stupid of me to fly back to DXB in the first place; I should have just gone directly from Istanbul to Beirut, but I’ll just pretend I was being thoughtful and didn’t want my friend Zahra to have to fly by herself.
This was my second time in Beirut, you can check out my last trip here. It was also Zahra’s second time, so she should me several places that she’d been prior that I hadn’t, and I did the same. I was in charge of trolling Instagram from hipster breakfast spots – my absolute favorite was Breakfast Barn for their chia pudding and the foamiest latte ever, but the wallpaper/ambience/food at Eat Sunshine is pretty fantastic too. We spent our first day walking down Armenia street looking for painted stairs that she had seen before but didn’t know the location, which basically meant every side street we would peek down and say “Are these the stairs?” It turned out there are multiple painted stairs because as we were having what we thought was an amazing photo shoot, a kind gentlemen told us that there were even more beautiful stairs a few hundred meters further down the street. So these weren’t the stairs we were looking for. (Get the Star Wars reference?)
The following day we left Beirut and went to the caves at Jeita Grotto, which are absolutely insane. Photography isn’t allowed (they make you put your phones in lockers), so I don’t have any photos, but I highly recommend making a trip here if you are traveling to Beirut. From the grotto we headed to Harissa to see the Our Lady of Lebanon statue, and we took the fast track up using a teleferique, which is basically a chic way to say gondola lift and is my new favorite word to casually drop into conversation. Zahra did NOT enjoy this, so I tried to distract her by playing music and pointing out that we were much safer in the teleferique than we were in the rickety old Mercedes with the crazy driver who took us from the grotto to Harissa. Luckily the power didn’t go out, and she agreed to take it back down, since I had already paid for round trip tickets and am cheap and lazy. From Harissa, we headed to Byblos, where we chilled and walked to the sea.
The rest of the trip we spent in Beirut, mostly hanging out in Mar Mikhael and Saifi Village, with me snapping street art and Zahra snapping me snapping street art. We also checked out American University Beirut, and made a quick stop to the Armenian part of town for delicious sandwiches from Mano. Here’s the full list of #zhilathings:
Favorite Breakfast: Breakfast Barn
Favorite Lunch: Tawlet
Favorite Dinner: Mayrig (Armenian food – sit outside)
Favorite Street Artist: Yazan Halwani – you can find Sabah on Hamra Street above Costa Coffee
Favorite spot for a game of backgammon: Kahwet Leila
Favorite local designer boutique: Vanina (I’ll do an entire post on this later)
Favorite street: Armenia St.
Favorite hole in the wall sandwich shop: Mano