Ultimate Lebanon Summer Guide 2014

Posted by Mark

If you’re going down to Lebanon for Eid at the end of the month, here are my favorite places you need to visit for 2014:

sundays

SUN.DAYS at Skybar
Skybar Beirut have something new going on this year and it’s called SUN.DAYS. Starts at 6:30PM on Sundays while the sun is still up and goes on till past midnight. The whole Skybar gets a major makeover for SUN.DAYS with fake grass flooring, a raised bar area and colorful lounges and chairs all over. It actually takes them nearly 12 hours to setup this conversion, that’s how dedicated they are to SUN.DAYS. There are also special guests on SUN.DAYS and while I was there HVOB were performing and I ended up capturing the great shot below. Reservation is a must.

hvob

montagnou

Le Montagnou
Probably the nicest looking pool in Lebanon with the greatest view. Located up in Faraya, Le Montagnou is a restaurant with an outdoor pool and bar. Caters mostly to the fancy schmancy crowd of Faraya and Faqra but still cheaper than many pools in Beirut and cheaper than most of the pools in Kuwait. Stay for the sunset and reservation is a must.

garten

The Gärten by Uberhaus
They’re only open Saturday night from around 8PM to 6AM and it was favorite place last summer and again this summer. It’s an outdoor club that’s open just for the summer with a large green garden filled with bean bags on one side and a huge open dome which is the dance floor on the other.

Internazionale
There are a ton of great pubs in Mar Mikhael but my favorite this trip was Internazionale. It’s owned by the same owner as another favorite pub of mine Torino Express. Internazionale has two advantages over Torino, a larger space and the fact it’s located in the more vibrant Mar Mikhael area. Just like at Torino, the owner DJ’s here as well.

The Train Station
I wish I had taken pictures of this place but I didn’t have my camera on me then. The Train Station is located on the grounds of the old Mar Mikhael train station. They’ve taken one of the abandoned rusty 50+ year old trains and setup a DJ booth inside. They then setup a bar along with tables all around and they’ve kept everything intact including a rust old water tower which the bar surrounds. Pricy for what it is but it’s worth checking out.

The Junkyard
Also located in Mar Mikhael, The Junkyard is located in a large space between a heavily packed residential area and the theme of the place is a giant junkyard. There is indoor and outdoor seating it’s also worth passing by and checking out since it’s visually interesting. The place is a bit too bright so best to start off your evening with The Junkyard which makes sense anyway since they have a good food menu filled with friendly dishes like burgers and fish & chips.

Make sure you check out last years Ultimate Lebanon Summer Guide since most of the recommendations are still applicable as well [Link]


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Review: BEYt Guesthouse

Posted by Mark

beyt1

Last week while in Lebanon I stayed at a guesthouse called BEYt. They’ve been open for nearly a year now and I found out about the place by chance on my last trip there while visiting a small bookshop (Play BEY which belongs to them) and overhearing the owner talk about it. The guesthouse was located on top of the bookshop on the main Mar Mikhael street (where all the pubs are) and when I got a tour of the place I knew I would be staying there on my next trip, which is what I ended up doing.

beyt2

As I mentioned above, BEYt is located on the very popular Mar Mikhael street. It’s on the first floor of a traditional Lebanese building with high ceilings, wooden shutters and beautiful floor tiles. They only have four rooms available which are:

Master Bedroom (90$ for 1 person, 110$ for 2, 130$ for 3)
Private bedroom with its own en-suite bathroom
1 queen-size bed & 1 single bed

Private bedroom (75$ for 1 person, 95$ for double occupancy)
Private bedroom with its dedicated bathroom across the corridor
1 queen-size bed

Twin Bedroom (60$ for 1 person, 80$ for double occupancy)
Private bedroom with shared bathroom across the corridor
2 single beds (1.20 meters)

Corner Bedroom (50$ for 1 person, 70$ for double occupancy)
Private bedroom with shared bathroom
2 single beds (1.10 meters)

Those are the prices as of this post.

beyt4

I ended up taking the “Master Bedroom” and found the room fairly spacious with a pretty large bathroom area thats nearly as big as the room itself. The whole guesthouse is fitted with vintage furniture and various vintage electronics like record players, TVs and cameras. It’s a beautiful space and all the furniture was handpicked by the owner. The biggest seller for me though was the location, being situated right on Mar Mikhael street meant I could walk to my favorite pubs and then clumsily stumble back at the end of the night. For those of you who know Lebanon, BEYt is located 2 minutes away walking from pubs like Radio Beirut, Internazionale, The Train Station and The Junkyard. Walk a minute longer and you’re at Bar Tartine, SUD and The Sandwich Shop. I can’t really imagine a better location to be staying at in Beirut. Because there are no pubs below or right across the street from BEYt the place was actually pretty quiet especially the room I stayed in which didn’t overlook the main road. BEYt also had WiFi and it was a pretty reasonable speed compared to Beirut standards.

beyt6

With all the positives I did have a number of issues though. When we first arrived at the guesthouse we were told that they needed our rooms for 2 hours because they were installing new vintage lights in our rooms. Nice but why couldn’t they have done that before we arrived or after we left? The first thing I wanted to do was unpack and head out. Another day I walked into my room and noticed they had removed the window shutters and a guy was standing outside my window working on them while looking into my room. That made me feel really uneasy since I was just sitting there on my computer with a guy looking in from my window. Again it wasn’t anything urgent that needed fixing so they should have done it before or after we left. I called the owner and told him how weird that was and he told me the guy just needed 10 more minutes. I had to wait until he was done so I could go and shower which annoyed me since I don’t like other people managing my personal time. The next morning I woke up to find the guy was back at my window, he had removed the shutters and was working on them again. It was really annoying and an invasion of my personal space.

Other issues I faced, the original room description which I listed above stated my room would have two beds but when I got there I found only one. It didn’t turn out to be an issue for me but it would have for someone wanting the second bed. Finally, the last issue I had was with the AC. We were told that we should shutoff the AC when we leave our rooms. I hate doing that especially when the AC isn’t really powerful like the ones they had installed. I usually come back to the room to sleep and don’t want to come back to a hot stuffy room and wait an hour till it cools. Luckily we managed to keep it on the whole time without any issues.

beyt3

There were a few more things that bothered me like the smell of the cooking every morning or the really rough and hard towels. But all the issues were relatively minor and nothing really took away from the whole experience except for the guy with my shutters. I thought the price of my room was pretty fair and the fact they have rooms starting at $50 is ridiculous. It’s all about the location and that’s why I’d stay there again with all the issues I had. For more information on BEYt, check out their website [Here]

Another similar place I would recommend staying at is the Hayete Bed & Breakfast which I’ve previously written about [Here]

Note: Picture of the room taken from the BEYt website


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Thinking of going to Cuba?

Posted by Mark

cuba

A couple of weeks ago, me and a friend where looking for places to travel this coming October and Cuba was on the top of our list. We didn’t manage to do much research other than finding out which airline would take us there but, the local travel blog Hello 965 just posted some information on Cuba including how to get there and what to do once you’re there. So if you’re ever considering flying to Cuba, this post should interest you. Check out her post over [Here]


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Kuwait Airlines Plane Makes Emergency Landing in Brussels

Posted by Mark

kuwaitairways

A Kuwait Airways plane carrying 200 people made an emergency landing at Brussels airport Monday after the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit, Belgian news reports said.

The plane, an Airbus 300, was en route to London from Kuwait when the pilot asked for clearance to land, the reports said, citing airport spokeswoman Florence Muls.

“The landing proceeded without incident and all passengers disembarked safely,” Muls said. “Safety services are now examining the aircraft” to see if they can discover where the smoke came from, she added. [Source]

Good thing they’re getting new planes end of the year.


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The Pearl Lounge Got a Makeover

Posted by Mark

pearllounge

If you’ve traveled recently you might have noticed the Pearl Lounge at the airport was getting refurbished. Well the makeover is complete and someone from the National Aviation Services uploaded a 30 days time-lapse of the whole processes. I think the new lounge looks better and it also looks like it can fit a lot more people. Check out the time lapse below.


[YouTube]


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Watch Emirates Break the Record for World’s Shortest A380 Flight

Posted by Mark

emirates

As I’ve previously posted, Emirates is now flying their double decker A380 plane to Kuwait which is now officially the shortest flight for the plane in the world. The flight is only 1 and 25 minutes long and the video below is a behind the scenes look at the inaugural flight to Kuwait. [Link]


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British Airways to Air Documentary about Kuwait Onboard All their Flights

Posted by Mark

BA-film

For the month of August, British Airways will be airing a short documentary about Kuwait on board more than 3,000 flights around the world. The documentary is called “Kuwait: Through Our Eyes” and is divided into four 10-minute films. Originally British Airways were planning just a 10-minute film but due to the overwhelming demand they ended up turning it into a four part series. Kuwait is just one of twenty countries from around the world that are getting a film done and Kuwait is the first one from the Middle East to be featured.

August is one of the busiest months of the year so Kuwait should get a lot of exposure. I couldn’t find a copy of the film online to watch but I’m hoping British Airways will upload it next month onto YouTube or their website. Check out the full article on KUNA [Here]

Thanks @Buzfairy

Update: Part one is now online, watch it below.


[YouTube]


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The Jazeera Airways terminal that never came to be

Posted by Mark

jazeeraterminal

Jazeera Airways recently opened four new exclusive gates at the Kuwait Airport but at one point it looked like Jazeera Airways was going to get its own terminal. Back in 2012 I posted renderings of a terminal design I had found online but I now found another rendering of a completely different design (pictured above) that looks even better than the previous one I had posted. You can check out larger renderings of the terminal along with more information [Here]


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Tidbits: Kuwait Aviation History

Posted by Mark

kacclub

Last week someone told me that the top floors of the Kuwait Airways Building in Kuwait City used to be a club called Al Hamra back when clubs were legal. So I spent all day yesterday trying to find information on it online but I couldn’t find anything. Instead, the whole research somehow turned into history lesson on Kuwait’s aviation history and I ended u finding a lot of interesting information most of which I hadn’t heard before. I already shared the vintage timetables in a separate post below but I’ll now combine the rest of my random findings here.

Al-Nugra Airport
This was Kuwait’s second airport and it was located in Nuzha.

1947-1948 KOC develops new Al-Nugra (Al-Mayass) airport, located in Nuzha district. Open for daylight operations only. Airlines open offices in Kuwait city to handle ticketing and cargo operations for the Arab expatriate community. Al-Nugra airport steadily developed with new concrete buildings and hangar. [Source]

I couldn’t find any decent photos of the airport but I did find the video below.


[YouTube]

Kuwait Airport 1975
I found the images below on Flickr and they’re dated 1975 but I’m not sure if they’re photos of Al-Nugra Airport or the location of our current airport which started in 1961.

1961 State of Kuwait declares independence. Phase One of new Mugwa Airport begins operation. Airlines serving Mugwa include BOAC, Lufthansa, KLM, United Arab Airlines, Saudi Arab Airlines, Syrian Arab Airlines, Air India, and Lebanese carriers MEA, TMA and LIA. Facilities comprise passenger terminal (Terminal 1), 2,200-metre asphalt runway, parking apron, and control tower equipped to handle operations round-the-clock. [Source]

Photos [Source]

It’s most likely the site of our current airport but the only reason I am having doubts on the location is because in 1979 the current airport was completed but in the aerial photo above I can’t see any signs of the new airport construction taking place.

Trans Arabia Airways
Trans Arabia Airways was a Kuwaiti carrier that started operating in 1959 out of Beirut to Kuwait with an ex-Australian National Airways DC-4. By 1964 the the fleet consisted of three Douglas DC-6Bs and they flying to: Beirut, Bahrain, Cairo, Jerusalem, Damascus, Doha, Jeddah, as well as Frankfurt, London and Rome. In 1964 they were purchased and absorbed by Kuwait Airways. [Source]

The Kuwait Airport by Kenzo Tange
This isn’t new information since I already posted it years ago but I still think the photos are worth sharing again. Our current airport was originally designed by the legendary Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and was completed in 1979. The airport originally looked completely different and a lot nicer as you can see in the photos below. The British architect and critic Stephen Gardiner wrote in 1985 that it was “the most beautiful airport in the world” because of its “breathtaking simplicity of color and shape.” It is “white sculptured space as cool as an ice-cube, as enormous as a vat intake of pure air, as light as a tent, as canvas hung from cables and sails.”

Photos [Source]


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Vintage Kuwait Airways Timetables

Posted by Mark

kuwaitairwaysfleet

While I was researching for a post I found a page with old Kuwait Airways timetables dating back to 1959. According to that timetable Kuwait Airways was flying to the following destinations back then:

Abadan
Bahrain
Basra
Beirut
Bombay
Cairo
Damascus
Dhahran
Jerusalem
Karachi

I also found the image above of their fleet inside one of the timetables which I thought was very cool. Check out all the timetables [Here]


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