2009 travel writing awards entrant

Author Adam Paddick

Beirut and Lebanon as a
whole is a fantastic destination, and I simply can’t recommend the place
enough! Beirut
itself is like a phoenix trying to recover and find itself again, and
thankfully succeeding.

There is a relaxed and cosmopolitan atmosphere wherever you travel in the city.
The downtown area has had some serious re-development and looks a bit too new
and clean, but where else will you be able to find old churches, a mosque
that’s only six months old, fancy bars and shops that wouldn’t look out of
place in Bond Street,
all side by side? Although, take a closer look down the road and you will still
see bullet holes and the scars of war, (which is precisely why the
re-development has been able to occur as this area was flattened). The national
museum is a good size and American University of Beirut
really does feel like those typical American Universities you see in films and
has a small archaeological museum that’s worth a visit. No matter where you go
to eat order lots of mezze – it is simply divine, especially the rice and
aubergine stuffed vine leaves.

The best way to get around is in a shared taxi as you can speak to the taxi
driver and the locals as most people speak English and will only cost £1 to go
anywhere in Beirut or £5 to travel to must other places in Lebanon. Do not
however, catch a taxi from the airport as these are ridiculously expensive
($50); start to walk out of the airport to the main road and you will get
stopped by a taxi where you will get one for a much better price. Travelling
elsewhere though is extremely easy as Lebanon is so small everywhere is a
short day trip away. I only had time to visit Balbeek, and to have entire
ancient city practically to yourself is well worth the trip. Driving there is
certainly an experience, as road rules simply don’t exist, but that just adds
to the charm.

is also incredibly cheap and the people the most genuinely welcoming and happy
to see you that I have ever come across in my travels. It’s also very safe, so
whatever you hear about Lebanon
in the news, don’t let that cloud your judgement. The place certainly deserves
more people visiting it (although I quite like being pretty much the only