martes, 28 de diciembre de 2010
miércoles, 22 de diciembre de 2010
I was seriously getting resigned to the fact that winter in Beirut was just going to be an extension of the Fall. I mean it was cool-ish the other day, but after Boston’s harsh winters, I was like “OK, Lebanon, is this all you’ve got?”
A Lebanese friend who lives abroad was in town last weekend and she told me about this great restaurant in the mountains where you can see the snow and eat fondue, one hour away from Beirut. We decided to check it out. But in the back of my mind, I was asking myself, “C’mon, how cold can it actually get an hour from here??” (it was like 60F/15C in Beirut that day).
How wrong I was! After an hour drive on a seriously steep road (I wonder if the Lebanese pray for their life when they drive here on the mountain roads. I most certainly do) we got to this breathtaking area near the mountaintops. Seriously, it was ridiculously beautiful. Snow everywhere (Talj in Arabic), and a gorgeous view of the ocean. Can it get any better?
The restaurant, Le Montaignou, looks like a Swiss chalet, with a cozy atmosphere, wooden tables, laid back service and delicious mountain food (i.e. French onion soup, fondue, sausages and mash potatoes…). And there are windows in all walls, so you can enjoy the view while eating your meal and relaxing. The views are perfect for corny pictures to send back to your parents, the ones that say “Look how happy I am, Ma!”
After our meal we decided to sneak-a-pick at Faraya, the famous sky resort that all trendy people go to. Again, after seeing the ski slopes in the States or France, I wasn’t expecting much. Again... wrong! These ski slopes look not bad at all and the day passes are not too expensive. The Lebanese do not shy away from showing off their snowboarding skills or their expensive gear. I guess I’ll have to ditch my good old red fleece and trade it for something a little fancier…
Anyways, it looks like some serious skiing awaits us this season after all!!
lunes, 13 de diciembre de 2010
Winter finally arrived to Lebanon this weekend. And it literally went from 26 degrees and sunny on Wednesday to 10 degrees and rainy on Sunday. The rain and thunderstorms have been crazy as well (and with the pre-Christmas shoppers out on the weekend, the traffic has been out of this world).
Fun fact: in Arabic, the word for “rain” sounds like the word “shitty”. So when it is “shitty” out, there’s “shitty” in Lebanon !
In English there’s this expression “It’s raining cats and dogs”, which makes me smile. Imagine the visual! But there is some truth to it in Beirut, since in my part of town, I can hear the street cats’ terrified meows every time lighting strikes.
The sewage system in Lebanon isn’t great to begin with, so during rainy times, it’s beautiful to see small rivers form everywhere in the Achrafieh hills, with some pretty ponds forming spontaneously at the bottom of the street. But unfortunately, you won’t see any fish in those; only a couple of floating bottles is you get lucky.
I thought the garbage hadn’t been collected by mistake (or lack of resources) and this was the cause of this hydraulic mess, but my Lebanese friend confirmed that trash was collected only after the first rain, since it will all be gathered on the sewage at the bottom of the hill anyways. Why the double effort? This is a perfect example of Man and Nature working hand in hand (isn’t that just brilliant?).
Since last weekend, the Lebanese ladies have been showing off their winter outfits, stylish as ever, with an elegance equal to any Parisian’s walking down the Champs Elyses. However it is only 10 degrees here, not -5, so the hats and gloves look a bit out of place. Mind you, in Mexico it isn’t any different. The slightest cold front is an excellent excuse to bring out the fur.
After spending 6 years in Boston, I must say that I sort of welcome this slight change of season. After all, it feels weird to do your Christmas shopping wearing a tank top. So I raise my (premature?) mug of hot cocoa to Beirut’s cool weather.