The military presence around Place Etoile is heavy and sitting out having a coffee in the open air with the view of a tank in the corner of your vision is not the most perfect of settings. Obviously this new chic part of town is a prime target for trouble and I don’t have to wonder why exactly the area is pedestrianised. Car bombs come to mind but then again maybe I am just been paranoid. Everyone entering the shopping streets has to pass by the heavily armed soldiers and the guy sitting on the top of the jeep with a very large machine gun at the ready isn’t smiling at anyone. This part of town feels soulless and even thought the shops are plentiful, it’s not somewhere you would hang around.
We decided to go to an Italian restaurant recommended as serving freshly made pasta. We were looking forward to a well made Lasagna and a bottle of wine.
Food was very good, not sure the tortellini was made freshly today but it was definitely made in house and tasted great. Axel ate everything but Elka was too tired so didn’t eat much.
There is not a whole lot to do here except to party, and we are not in party mode with the kids been here. If you are in the Middle East and want a break from the cultural side of things, or are craving a bit of western style home comforts then make the trip. Before you do though, make sure you have lots and lots of dollars. The starbucks here are about $5/ $6.00 for a medium / large cappuccino and breakfast one morning cost us $42.00 for eggs and bread! It’s right next door to Syria and after spending 15 days there and paying €2.50 for a large margarita you feel your been ripped off when they charge you $14.00 for the same.
Property here has more than doubled in value in the last couple of years fuelled by an influx of oil money from the gulf states. They have pulled money out of the decadent west and where better to put it but in the arab world’s very own sin city.
You can see it coming a mile off, the golden goose is about to be killed, hallal of course. Beer and wine are expensive, taxis, groceries and you have to wonder why, I am sure most Beiruti’s are wondering why as well. It has the same things to offer as any modern big cities, throw in the snarling traffic, incomprehensible taxi driver’s, unfriendly staff, hey! You could be anywhere from New York to Dublin to Sydney . It reminds me of the heady days of the celtic tiger before the fall. I couldn’t stand it then when I was in Dublin and I certainly can’t stand it now.
Icarus get me out of here!