FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Beirut: War Zone To Wow

May 1, 2011
2011 / May 2011

Rising from the ashes of a long civil war, Lebanon’s cosmopolitan capital is reclaiming its reputation as the Paris of the Middle East. Yes, Beirut is back. The speed of redevelopment presents a mind-boggling contrast to the downtown ruins of just a decade ago. Today Beirut is a compelling blend of centuries-old architecture and beautifully restored buildings.

Start your perfect day with breakfast on the roof of the stylish new hotel Le Gray (Martyrs’ Square) in the Central Business District. This spot exemplifies the “new” Beirut. Before leaving, be sure to visit the terrace and treat yourself to a panoramic view of the city and newly excavated ruins. Fueled for the morning, experience the many layers of Beirut with a walking tour. Your concierge can pair you with an experienced guide who will note ancient sites such as the Roman baths, Byzantine shops and remnants of an Iron Age wall, all of which are easily missed.

The recently opened souk, an ultra-modern edifice, marks the site of the old marketplace destroyed during the civil war. Later, for more of the new, walk through Saifi Village to see cutting-edge designs and galleries. If you’re here on a Saturday, make a slight detour to Souk el-Tayeb, the city’s farmers’ market, where an immersion into the delicious flavors of Beirut excites all the senses. Be sure to taste manouche, the thin, warm Lebanese bread. Moving on, hire a taxi to take you to lunch overlooking the Mediterranean Sea at Chez Sami (Maameltein, Jounieh Old Road, Keserwan, tel 961 9 910520), one of the city’s best fish restaurants.

In the late afternoon, return to the heart of Beirut and walk off your lunch along the corniche, the city’s seaside walkway. A favorite pastime of the locals, this trek is dazzling at sunset. To refresh yourself, head to Gemmayze Street for a drink at one of its trendy cafés. Then stroll along Monot Street and stop at Adora (tel 961 1 397902) to see sophisticated local designs and owner Aurore Ezzedine’s stunning, one-of-a-kind jewelry. Have dinner nearby on the terrace at Abdel Wahab (51 Abdel Wahab el Inglizi St., tel 961 1 200550) and learn with certainty why Lebanon is known for its fine Middle Eastern cuisine. Not to miss: the grilled bite-sized birds.

End your day in the magic swirl of the city’s famed night scene by making a reservation at the popular Music Hall (Starco Center, tel 961 1 361236), where you’ll be enchanted by fun-loving Beirutis. Having been through so many crises, they tend to live for the moment. For them, every day (and night) is a celebration.

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