Ultimate Lebanon Summer Guide for 2013

Posted by Mark

If you’re going down to Lebanon next week for Eid then below is my personal recommendation list:

The Gärten by Uberhaus
They’re only open Saturday night from around 8PM to 6AM and it’s my favorite place this summer. It’s an outdoor club that’s open just for 16 weeks 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. You need to pass by and if you’re flying out on the morning MEA flight just head from The Garten straight to the airport. The place is easy to find, its right at the entrance to Biel (near Skybar). Here’s a video I shot the last time I was there [Here]

Tawlet
This is a very popular and a great Lebanese restaurant. They bring a new chef daily (usually a grandma) from a different part of lebanon to cook home made food. (01-448129)

Radio Beirut
Arguably my favorite pub this summer located in Mar Mikhael. I don’t think I’ve ever sat inside since the sidewalk is where everyone hangs out and drinks.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Live Love Beirut

Posted by Mark

Lebanon. Lose Yourself. from Wissam Abdallah

The Lebanese Ministry of Tourism should hire this guy. Watch it in full screen and in HD.

via BlogBaladi


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Zahed Sultan’s Travelogue

Posted by Mark

Travelogue is a new short film travel series by Zahed Sultan. It’s a fast-paced video diary that captures the little moments Zahed gets to experience as he takes his music to different countries and cities around the world.

I was just thinking the other day of a cool way to document all my traveling and I think local musician Zahed Sultan cracked it. All I do at the moment is Instagram pictures with the hashtag #markinsomewhere. Some people collect shot glasses, some people collect fridge magnets and I’m collecting hashtags I guess. So far this year I’ve collected the following:

#markinjapan
#markinrotterdam
#markinamsterdam
#markinparis
#markinprague
#markinbarcelona
#markinbasel
#markinmilan
#markinmanchester
#markinliverpool

Zahed Sultan’s video diaries (I think he is going to be doing a bunch of these) is a fantastic way to document all his traveling. I love it. [YouTube]

Note: You can’t view my Instagram photos unless you’re following me @mark248am


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Next time you’re in Lebanon, visit the Baatara Gorge

Posted by Mark

This past weekend I was in Lebanon and up in the area Tannourine so I decided to pass by the Baatara Gorge. I had only seen pictures of it before and really wasn’t expecting it to be so huge. The gorge is around a 5 minute drive off the main road and then around a 15 minute hike down a valley. There is no tour guide there or any fees you need to pay its just there for you to see and explore.

During the spring there is a large waterfall that flows down through the gorge but when I was there it was just a small stream of water dripping down. Still it was a beautiful sight to see and since it’s in the middle of nowhere it was very peaceful. There are no fences or any kind of safety features so it wouldn’t be recommended to go with children. I took a bunch of pictures but they really don’t do the place any justice.

You can check out some great photos of the gorge [Here]

While in Tannourine I would also recommend you visit the large Cedar Reserve (pictured above), it’s a great hike on a trail with beautiful views as well. [Link]


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Aloo ISDN by Fasttelco

Posted by Mark

A couple of weeks back Fasttelco hooked me up with a product they have called Aloo ISDN. Aloo ISDN is a phone line to use when traveling which will allow me to make and receive unlimited calls to and from Kuwait for free. It’s a really great simple product but a bit complicated to explain so I will try my best to be very clear.

– When you sign up to Aloo ISDN, Fasttelco will provide you with a local number, in my case its 22200XXX (XXX because I don’t want everyone to have my number)

– Once you get the number you then need to download the free app “Media5” from the app Store and follow Fasttelco’s setup instructions. I am personally using the application “Bria” instead of Media5 but it isn’t free. Both these apps work on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

The product requires the internet to work so your device needs to be connected to WiFi or 3G/4G LTE. I used Aloo this past weekend while in Lebanon and I thought it was great.

Before I left Kuwait I forwarded my Viva number to my Aloo number so that any phone call I receive while in Lebanon I would get to answer using my Aloo number. You don’t have to do that but I found it easier than giving everyone my “travel number” and that way I also avoid getting calls on my regular number and paying roaming charges.

The product works. I didn’t have access to WiFi while in Lebanon but I did have a 3G connection. I used the Aloo number a bunch of times and only on one occasion did I have a connection problem but at the time I was driving on a mountain road so my guess is the 3G connection was dropping. Using the number is fairly easy. When you get a phone call the app would pop up and ask me if I want to answer the phone call. To make a phone call I just launch the app and either dial the number or find one from my contact book. I was actually surprised I was able to use the service with a Lebanese 3G connection since the connection in Lebanon isn’t that fast. If it works in Lebanon it should work even better in European countries or the States.

If you travel a lot and pay a lot of roaming charges then this product could save you a lot of money. For a regular number is costs KD70 the first year and then KD60 every year after that so unless you make and receive over KD60 worth of roaming calls a year Aloo is not worth getting. They also have more premium numbers, the number they gave me for example is a silver number and costs KD120 the first year, gold costs KD200 the first year, platinum 500, diamond 1000 and royal 5000. All the numbers then cost KD60 a year after that. If you’re interested in signing up or getting more information you can call Fasttelco on 1838485.


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Best Airports in the Middle East

Posted by Mark

1 – Abu Dhabi International Airport
2 – Dubai International Airport
3 – Bahrain International Airport
4 – Doha International Airport
5 – Muscat International Airport
6 – Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport
7 – Kuwait International Airport
8 – Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport
9 – Riyadh King Khalid International Airport
10 – Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport

I love Qatar Airways but their Doha airport is just depressingly cramped and crowded all the time. I’d even go as far as saying I prefer Kuwaits Airport. For the list of best airports around the world click [Here]

Note: Image above is of the Kuwait Airport when first constructed. More pictures can be seen [Here] For pictures of the new Kuwait Airport that will hopefully be built one day click [Here]


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Kuwait Airways not even a Top 100 airline

Posted by Mark

According to the Skytrax 2013 World Airline Awards, Kuwait Airways is so bad it didn’t even make it into the Top 100 Airlines list. The #1 best airline in the world according to Skytrax is Emirates while the Royal Jordanian Airlines was ranked #100. Below are the Top 10 Airlines in the Middle East for 2013:

1 – Emirates
2 – Qatar Airways
3 – Etihad Airways
4 – Oman Air
5 – Gulf Air
6 – Royal Jordanian Airlines
7 – Saudi Arabia Airlines
8 – Middle East Airlines
9 – Air Arabia
10 – flyDubai

For the list of Top 100 Airlines in the world click [Here]


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Don’t go to Lebanon

Posted by Mark

Love. [YouTube]


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Have a traffic fine? Pay it now!

Posted by Mark

According to Major General Abdul Fattah Al Ali in the video above, they will soon be slapping travel bans on anyone who hasn’t paid their traffic violations. So if you have any fines (like I did) then you better pay them now. [YouTube]

You can check and pay your traffic violations online [Here]


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Hayete Bed & Breakfast – Beirut

Posted by Mark

I really shouldn’t be posting about this place since I love it so much and don’t want it to be fully booked every time I want to go down to Lebanon. But, since I always put the blog ahead of myself, here is everything you need to know.

Hayete is a small bed & breakfast situated in the very beautiful and super busy Achrafieh area. It’s an apartment located inside a traditional/old Achrafieh style building that was converted into a cozy little guesthouse. The place is managed by a very friendly husband and wife and I’ve stayed there two times so far and on both occasions I had a great experience.

Hayete which means “My Life” in Arabic has just 4 rooms. Two of the rooms share a bathroom, the third room has its own bathroom and the 4th one has its own bathroom and an extra room (so it’s actually two rooms with two beds). The first time I stayed in the large two room room while the second time I stayed in the regular room with a shared bathroom. I loved staying there on both those visits.

No two rooms are furnished the same or even look the same. The floor tiles are exposed showing the original apartment tiling while the furniture is all vintage and really beautiful. There is a nice lobby area for entertaining guests and a balcony as well with a wooden table and benches in case you feel like sitting outside. I usually rent a car when I’m in Lebanon but since Hayete is located in Achrafieh, I usually prefer to skip the rental and cab it instead. Hayete is a 5 minutes walk to the main road where you can easily find a cab. More importantly though, Hayete is a short walk to the trendy Gemayzee street.

The rooms are pretty affordable starting at around $75 a night and that includes a traditional Lebanese breakfast served on the balcony every morning. It’s a super cozy guesthouse that feels like an apartment which is why my friends always love coming over to hang out a bit before heading down to Gemayzee. I highly recommend the place unless I find it fully booked the next time I plan a trip and then I’m going to delete this post. For more information and beautiful pictures of the place, checkout their Facebook page [Here]


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