A More Cynical Guide To Beirut (By Dyala)

Last week’s post by the wonderful Yaz, told us all about hip and happening Beirut, but I beg to differ. Anyone who’s lived long enough in Beirut knows that you can run out of things to do by Friday, and it can all feel a little too repetitive. That being said, there’s a little beauty in the familiar. If you find the right rhythm, the right crowd and the right soundtrack, Beirut doesn’t have to be so bad.

Below, a slightly more cynical take on a fun week in Beirut. Fair warning: If you don’t engage in the more, er, alcoholic activities, you should probably stop reading. Let’s call a spade a spade, sober Beirut is definitively less fun.

Drown Your Monday Blues
I used to have a rule that I don’t drink on weekdays but then I became a full time employee and the future looked pretty bleak. I suggest that as soon you walk out of your neon-lit offices on Monday at 6.30, without the patience for any other human being, you sit yourself down at Danny’s in Hamra and get a drink. Pronto. The service is always swift (just the way I like it), the crowd distant (exactly what you need on a Monday) and the drinks are half off till 8pm.

P.S. Wednesday is Margherita Pitcher’s night. You can totally repeat this activity without any judgment.

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Middle of the Week Date Night
Weekend nights are overrated. Everyone wants to get in on the fun on a Saturday night and alone time becomes impossible. Granted, you’ll end up having to squeeze 10 of your friends onto one table and come out exhausted, frustrated, but it’s the one time a week when everyone can get together. That’s why date night should be shifted to middle of the week. Take the ordinary Wednesday, when you’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed, when your bank account looks dismal, and when the week feels terrifyingly slow. Soldier on through the day, and for dinnertime, make it date night. The lovely Couqley bistro usually hits the spot. Its typically Parisian bistro décor is enough to make you feel that you’ve left Beirut; their meat is always tender, the wine list is great, and the service is warm. What’s not to love?

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Friday Fatigue at Myu/Momo’s
The golden rule of the weekend: Saturdays are for late nights and Fridays are for socializing. For a good night out – without the extra hours –  put on a pair of your finest heels and head down to Myu in Gemmayze or Momo’s at the Souks. Make sure you’re a little early for both and watch as the places fill up, while the Lebanese stare each other down and flirt awfully. Myu has a bit of a reputation for being a pick-up place, so if you’re single be ready to work your magic. And then if all else fails, you can’t get into the groove and the crowd just isn’t right, head back home to Hamra where Bodo stays open late and the bartender is your best friend.

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The Mar Mkhayel Stretch on Saturdays
If your friends (like mine) don’t indulge you with OCD level planning and pre-meditated bookings, Saturday nights are made for Mar Mkhayel. Park a little further away and hop down anywhere from Internazionale to Dictateur. It’s a who’s who of pseudo fashionistas and hipsters. But if you can get past the awkward social dynamic, the drinks are great, the music is fantastic, and for a split second, you could pretend you’ve wandered into London’s east end. But then the Darakeh wolf whistles at you and the dreams are shattered.

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Sunday Feasts
The city sports a communal hangover on a Sunday and all signs point to the highway. Sunday is the time to get out of noisy, polluted Beirut. Take your favorite members of the family (or friends if the latter is an oxymoron) and head out to Fadel in Naas, Bekfaya. The food is spectacular, consistent, and the air is so crisp and fresh. Walk on over and check out the boutique hotel down the road. On the car ride down, moan about the lack of fresh air in Beirut and plug your iPod in – so that for a fleeting moment, it’s a mini road trip.

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Sporting at Sunset
If you decide to forgo the mountains and stick to your urban roots (which admittedly I usually do) head on over to Sporting Beach Club at around 6.30 pm. They’ve opened up their “deck” where the CUNEXTSAT Parties were hosted. It’s breezy enough for a light sweater, sunny enough for you to keep your sunglasses on without being a douche, and the beer is extraordinarily cold. Let the moment sink in as you watch the sun set, while the waves hit the rocks and the skies change colors.

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Conclusion
Sometimes, if you try hard enough, Beirut can still be magical.

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