Beirut

Prior to Dubai I had a pretty good idea that Beirut was supposed to be the happenin’ place in the Middle East. On the coast of the Med, the Lebanese capital generally features in movies as a raging party town. What I didn’t know is that it also has some great mountains a quick 45 minutes from the city.

Some interesting scenes on the drive up the mountain

Iran actually has some of the best snowboarding in the world, but with the political situation as it is, Beirut is definitely the spot if you want to put in some snow time out here. It’s pretty cool to look out over the slopes and see the deep blue Mediterranean in the distance and it was damn fine weather for us over the weekend.  

not quite clear enough but the clouds in the background are blocking the view of the Med

Beirut and the surrounding coastal area has a history that goes back over 5,000 yrs. It’s got a blend of Phoenician, Roman, Arabic and Ottoman influence and was the major financial/ tourist hub of the middle east until civil war broke out in 1975 between the Muslims and Christians and didn’t really end til 1990.  25 yrs of civil war has a huge influence on people’s life perspectives and I’ve found the locals generally appreciate the important things in life and don’t get too stressed about the small stuff (like being on time; Lebanese are notoriously late. Count on at least an hour delay for any meeting)

byblos

About twenty minutes up the coast from Beirut is the town of Byblos, the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the world. It has a real mellow vibe and reminds me of northern spain with narrow cobblestone streets and everyone sitting at street side cafes drinking coffee and eating seafood. That part of the coastline has a lot of nooks and crannies that could hold surf potential. Haven’t really looked at the charts too closely- yet- but perhaps a future surf mission will be on the cards.

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