ON THE LONGEST STAIRWAY in the Middle East, 129 steps and 18 landings separate two of the most colorful neighborhoods in Lebanon’s cosmopolitan capital city. The historic St. Nicholas staircase links Beirut’s trendy Gemmayze district upward to Sursock, the fancy avenue lined with grand mansions and elegant high rises of the past and present gentry. Both areas still show signs of the devastating effects of the civil war that raged 1975–1990, but structures decorated with arched windows, ornamental ironwork and ornate cornices witness a lively lifestyle dating from the era when this city was called the Paris of the Middle East.
The stairway landing is tucked off Gourand Road, one of the city’s liveliest streets (locals just call it Main Street), lined with boutiques, cafés and clubs. Storefront restaurants offer fresh croissants, sushi, pasta, sandwiches, pizza slices and hamburgers. A few doorways to the west of the steps, the longtime local favorite café, Le Chef, offers daily fresh specials of homemade food “like my grandmother’s kitchen.” After dark, clients comfortably sipping cocktails and local Beirut beer while engrossed in their laptops populate the street’s cozy clubs and dimly lit pubs.
Halfway up the steps, the Grand Meshmosh café provides a hangout for visitors sampling turnip and fennel soup, eggplant moussaka and slices of dense carrot cake. Farther along, My Luxury Outlet sells elegant shoes, bags, luggage and other leather goods by Longchamp, Lancel and Fratelli Rossetti at steeply discounted prices.
Signs at the top of the steps designate the district “Caractere Traditionnel,” and directly across the street is the former Maison Tarazi, dating from 1908. It sits a few doors down from the three-story 1912 villa of aristocratic art collector Nicholas Sursock, converted to a notable museum highlighting regional and contemporary art. Lights blaze from its stained glass windows at night, and Sursock’s book- and memento-lined study and ornate Oriental Arab Room ringed with divans convey a sense of the grand lifestyle that once prevailed here.
Storefront shops sell high-end art and antiques and the exquisite mini-mosaic rings and brooches of jeweler Nada Le Cavalier. Around the corner at the far end of the street, the grand old theater of the Metropolis Cinema screens first-run American and international films.
As I arrived at the Air Canada check-in counter, the helpful staff directed me to the security checkpoint. Once through the line, and a bit strapped for time, I walked quickly to my gate, where an extremely kind concierge service member greeted me. She asked how my trip was and said she had been watching for me so she could assist me with boarding early to ensure a calm and easy departure. She assisted me earlier that week when I processed through security from Toronto to London, so it was nice closing my trip with a friendly face. She escorted me onto the plane and to my seat in the beautiful Signature Class cabin of the Boeing 787-8, introducing me to the flight attendant who would be directing cabin staff during my flight. I thanked the concierge for her hospitality throughout my journey.
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Travel insurance comparison site InsureMyTrip ranked the best and worst U.S. cities for cleanliness, and Long Beach, California, is No. 1, rated the cleanest U.S. city. InsureMyTrip examined city- and state-level data on key categories, including hand sanitizer demand, restaurant cleanliness, quantity of recycling collectors, garbage disposal satisfaction, electric vehicle market share and pollution.
Meliá Hotels International announced the expansion of its ME by Meliá, Gran Meliá and Paradisus brands in 2021.
Tropicana Las Vegas launched its first-ever Holiday in Paradise outside in Tropicana Plaza to help spread holiday cheer this year. Through Jan. 3, more than 25,000 lights will cover the corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard, alongside a 20-foot Christmas tree and a tropical forest of 25 palm trees and Christmas trees. The free experience for all ages also includes a 10-foot-tall, live poinsettia photo wall, holiday music and a pop-up bar serving winter-themed cocktails, hot cocoa and more.
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As more destinations around the globe reopen to travelers, we are ready to get back to one of our favorite activities. Join us over the next several weeks as we take you to places around the world saying #WelcomeBacktoTravel. Take a visual journey through Portugal with us.