After reading the last issue of Monocle, I am now a little obsessed with the idea of going to Beirut, Lebanon.
When you say ‘Beirut’ to most people, the first thing that comes to their mind are likely to be civil strife and the Hezbollah. Would you be expecting it to be a modern Middle Eastern city with a great, thriving cafe culture? Because that is what it is, underneath that war-torn image.
While the city didn’t make Monocle’s Top 25 Most Liveable Cities list (for obvious reasons), it still appears to be a wildly attractive place to stay in, or at least, visit. If I take what I’ve read to be true (and I’ve been reading up quite a bit on it), Beirut’s lively street life, exciting culinary culture and architectural re-awakening will be hard to resist.
I love cities. Frankly, I don’t think I can stay outside of one. A day or two to the sea or countryside will be refreshing, but that may be all I can take before I come running back to the lights and brimming happenings of the urban centre. That may be why I usually take my vacations in cities, rather than beach resorts or natural retreats. I like to meet people when I’m away, and where better to do that then in a major city?
So, back to Beirut. The idea has been firmly lodged in my mind; I have to go now. Well, not now now, but eventually and hopefully, in the near future.
New York Times seems to agree with me, having named Beirut the No. 1 place to visit in their 44 Places to Visit in 2009 feature last year. And if we can’t trust the NYT, who can we trust?! 🙂
I am also very taken with another Beirut recently – Beirut, the band.
Zach Condon started Beirut as a solo project before expanding it into a proper indie-pop band. The act’s old-fashioned, soulful music takes inspiration from the sounds of the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Considering that, it struck me as a little strange that the band is named Beirut.
If you are equally puzzled, you should really read this interview The New York Times did with the then-20 year old Condon back in 2006. I love reading their interviews because they are always so well-written and wonderfully insightful.
I first got to know about them after watching this video of them performing their song Nantes on the streets of Paris.
It just looks and sounds like such fun!
And how cute is Zach Condon with his tousled hair?