The city that refuses to die
Beirut is known to be the city of contrasts. I travel so often to Lebanon that I honestly no longer notice the disparity. My Greek colleague brought this to my attention when he travelled to Beirut for the very first time a couple of weeks ago. He found the city to be fascinating, captivating, and bustling with people, yet he was intrigued to see crumbling buildings that still bear the signs of the civil war, amid posh beach clubs, and an exciting nightlife. Every moment he said, the landscape would change, beautiful coastline one moment, pile of trash the next. How did I get so used to this that I didn’t even notice the dichotomy anymore!
You would even be forgiven for not realizing just how much art the city boasts amongst the trash and broken buildings. As I walked along Gemmayze street a couple of months ago, I couldn’t help but be in awe at the creative community around me. Lebanese artists, curators, gallerists, and simply creative souls are more active in the international scene than ever before. The neighborhoods of Gemmayze and Achrafieh house some of Beirut’s most beautiful art and culinary havens. What I particularly love is that anything can be transformed into something original and creative, whether an old villa, a simple cafe; creativity is basically omnipresent. I’m personally constantly inspired whenever I find myself in the streets of Beirut.
In Gemmayze, on Gouraud street, you’ll find Oliver’s Kitchen and Coffee Shop, a stylish restaurant and cafe, with comfy sofas and an actual library. The design is homey, warm, and picturesque in itself. And the food isn’t bad either.
Continue along Gemmayze, and you’ll find yourself in the neighborhood of Mar Mikhaël, Narrow streets are packed with art studios, coffee shops, and too many pubs and bars to name. I discovered Vanina, a clothing, accessories, and jewelry boutique that combines fashion and sustainability. I actually recently wrote a post about the brand; I’ll forgive you if you haven’t read it yet.
On my to-do list are the exhibitions at the Sursock Museum, which used to be a luxurious Lebanese palace built in 1912. I’ll let you know all about it once I go, promise.