Category

Lebanon

Category

When we need an escape from our routine and a change of scenery, we immediately plan a trip to explore a new country. Yet, we more often than not stop right in the middle of that booking because we think twice about the budget.

What we rarely think of is a weekend away in our own country that has many places left to explore. Places you never thought existed a few kilometers away.

Last weekend, the lovely people of Via Mina Hotel in Tripoli, invited us over for a relaxing stay. Believe me when I tell you I woke up on Sunday morning not sure of where in the world I was. The old souks of Tripoli are the miniature reproduction of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. The pubs we visited at night were the reflection of Rome’s laid-back Trastevere. The streets around Al Mina region resemble the Old Croatian towns. This can give you a clear picture of the mixed feelings you get during your two-day stay.

That weekend was a huge eye-opener on the possibility of things to do in Lebanon. Here’s what you can do during a weekend in Tripoli.

Where to Stay:

Via Mina Hotel. This refreshing and cozy Bed & Breakfast is all you need to relax and unwind away from work and busy Beirut. What was an old inhabited house became the coziest place to stay. Just that smell of organic green tea soap gives your mind peace the entire time.

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

What to do:

Visit the souks in the center of Tripoli. You’ll get the same experience as visiting the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul if you’ve been. Make sure you go to “Khan el Saboun” (i.e. the soap market), where you’ll find loads of organic soaps.

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

Take a walk along the Mina. If you’re staying at the Via Mina Hotel, the Mina is a three-minute walk away. If you’re an early riser, you can visit the fish market  where people place bids on the freshest fish. You can also walk around the Mino area in the morning and witness fresh bread-making, live foul and hommos cooking and a joyful atmosphere.

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

In the evening, there are pubs two minutes away from the hotel. Timmy’s is one of the crowdiest. Its architecture is also something you don’t see every day.

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

If you’re craving for a nice seafood meal, Borj El Samak (which is right next to Via Mina) is a good choice.

Lately, I’ve been pessimistic about Lebanon and long to travel the world.  The most important lesson I learnt that weekend is to never make up your mind about something before you experience it yourself. We all have our made-up ideas about certain places and it’s easy to get influenced by the media, our parents’ anxieties, and even our own stubbornness.  But I promise myself, here and now, to be more positive and appreciate what we have.

Thoughts? 🙂

Click HERE to follow our foodie and travel journey on INSTAGRAM @breadonbutter_

and HERE to get your daily Breadonbutter news on FACEBOOK

Don’t forget to tag us if you try our recipes and tips: #breadonbutter

Let’s start with what’s important. I love my country, despite its flaws. I chose to live here and no one forced me to do so. I love its warmth, its people and everything truly feels like home. I won’t lie; there are times all I wish for is to pack my bags and move to a better place. Today is supposed to be one of those times, but it isn’t. I admit here and now that I’m confused. I’m scared of more rain – where instead of embracing the smell of the earth, we’ll be fighting for breath, I’m scared of History of diseases repeating itself, I’m scared of oh-so-many things but I’ll be fighting anxiety today, tomorrow and as long as it takes for us to retrieve even a tiny bit of our dignity. It is no longer a choice. Amidst the horror of what is going on, I still have hope for a better future. Some may think it is naïve, I think it is a start. We owe it to our ancestors whose Lebanon was heaven on earth, we owe it to ourselves whose Lebanon is too hard to let go, we owe it to our children whose Lebanon should be the best place to be.

To remind everyone why we’ll keep on fighting, and in light of this article, here are 20 things about Beirut.

1) How everything seems to function against all odds – yes, we do have uber, online shopping and food delivery at all times.

2) The familiarity – most of the time, people are willing to help, smile and ask about your day.

3) How the trends blend in with the old – the Mar Mikhael and Gemmayze neighborhoods are the perfect examples.


4) The sunsets.


5) Life at night – where all the city lights are on, people are out and it smells like happiness.

6) Cab drivers (although not all of them) – they have the best stories.

7) The kaak and corn vendors.

8) The smell of thyme in the morning.

9) The easy access to the sea.


10) The variety of restaurants.

11) The constant festivals and fairs.

12) Music Hall.


13) Jogging at Waterfront.

14) How you can escape the city within the city.

15) The wide choice of things to do – you can go have coffee, take a cooking class, have dinner by the sea or happy hour drinks, there’s always somewhere to go and someone to see.

16) The vegetable/fruit shops on every corner.

17) The rooftops.

18) The view on the giraffes at the port.

19) The coffeeshops, pubs and other warm and familiar places – to mention a few: urbanista, dar bistro, papercup, bar tartine, kayan, Vintage shop (and their wine tasting), Paul gemmayze, st. elmo’s, Moto, sporting beach club, and so many more.

20) Eternal Hope.

People who live in Beirut, and those of you who have visited, it would be awesome if you could post in the comment section below one thing you love about this city! That way, we can look at the full part of the glass 😉

Click HERE to follow our foodie and travel journey on INSTAGRAM @breadonbutter_

and HERE to get your daily Breadonbutter news on FACEBOOK

Don’t forget to tag us if you try our recipes and tips: #breadonbutter

Sunny weekends are still ahead of us and we’re all looking for creative things to do. One of my favorite places in Lebanon is Batroun. The beautiful scenery brings you back refreshed and ready for another busy week after the weekend. There are so many things to do there other than lying on the rocks and soaking up the sun. Be it during summer or on sunny winter weekends, Batroun and its surroundings is a great destination for all kinds of activities.

Here are some ideas around the region for weekends ahead. There’s a little bit of everything for everyone!

When I say Batroun, I’m also talking about its surrounding towns, like Tannourine, Chekka, Anfeh, Douma and others. So here goes:

1- Tannourine: Start with an early morning hike in the beautiful reserve. The Tannourine forest is actually the biggest one. It starts in the Batroun casa and ends in the Bechareh casa.

batroun | breadonbutter

2- Saydet el nourieh: On your way down from Tannourine to the beach, pass by Saydet el Nouriyyeh for a spiritual hour and a breathtaking view on the shore.

batroun | breadonbutter

3- Make sure to pass by ‘Helmeh’ for a nice and refreshing lemonade!

4- Visit Batroun’s old town, it’s beautiful and untouched.

5- You can now go lie down on the rocks and take a dip in the sea. There’s a lot of choice when it comes to which beach you can go to. You can choose between Bonita Bay, White Beach, and Pierre and Friends, or go to Joining beach or Dany’s Bar for a less mainstream experience and great fish.

6- Make sure you stay there till sunset, you won’t regret it a single minute. Those places are great for those who love fishing as well.

batroun | breadonbutter

7- If you choose to sleep and spend the weekend there, two of the best places I’ve been to are Beit el Batroun and Mayouli. Beit el Batroun is simply the loveliest and most relaxing place. Mayouli is a bit different than Beit el Batroun as it’s more of an ecological place, with the freedom to have barbecues in a corner of the garden.

batroun | breadonbutter

8- Go up to one of Batroun’s vineyards the next day for some wine tasting. Ixsir has the most magical setting, and Aurora is another great choice.

batroun | breadonbutter

9- Have a late BBQ lunch on the rocks. You can find a lot of public beaches with clear blue water and settle there.

batroun | breadonbutter

 

10- For a nice late afternoon drink, try Colonel Beer. The setting is relaxed and the beer is excellent!

batroun | breadonbutter

There you go! A perfect weekend in Batroun 🙂 I’d love to hear about your suggestions!

Click HERE to follow our foodie and travel journey on INSTAGRAM @breadonbutter_

and HERE to get your daily Breadonbutter news on FACEBOOK

Don’t forget to tag us if you try our recipes and tips: #breadonbutter

When my sister was here visiting, we had a great day at the beach around a BBQ and excellent wine (Chateau Sainte-Andrée) brought by John-Peter, a great friend of ours. I was nicely surprised by this delicious wine and I was fascinated by its story.

Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter

John-Peter’s father Paul Sacre has been a wine amateur for as long as he can remember. He’s always had his own wine cellar filled with bottles of wine from all over the world. Some of the bottles were even very old (with one of them dating from 1947!).

Paul used to spend his summers at his aunt’s in Mradiye, a small village next to Ghbele in North Lebanon. He loves this region and that’s why he ended up buying a 25,000 square meter land there and started making his own wine. Like any success story, this started as a hobby. During the first 2 years, Paul was making wine to have fun and enjoy it with his family. He then started to sell it in fairs and wine tasting exhibitions.

The Wine

Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter

The vineyard produces almost 8,000 bottles per year: red (3 cuvées), white, rosé, fruity (peach) and 6 tastes of liquor.

The quantity they produce is not large but their aim is to produce the best quality there can be. Paul is helped by an oenologist for the mixes, the cork is wooden rather than silicon, which is better to preserve the wine’s quality and to be able to leave it in cellars for years (up to 12!).

The red wines are placed in French and Californian oak barrels for 8 to 16 months instead of aluminum or stainless steel which gives it a nice aroma.

Andree is the name of Paul’s wife (thus the name Sainte-Andrée) and each red wine cuvée has the name of his 3 children: Peter, Lynn and Laura.

Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter

It’s also worth mentioning that they also produce organic honey from the Jabal Moussa reserves that come from the pine trees, oak trees and fir trees. And they also produce their own vegetables (but those are not sold).

I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I did. To order the wine, you can call Paul Sacre directly on: +961 (3) 700 267

Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter

Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter

Cheers! 😉 

 Click HERE to follow our foodie and travel journey on INSTAGRAM @breadonbutter_

and HERE to get your daily Breadonbutter news on FACEBOOK

Don’t forget to tag us if you try our recipes and tips: #breadonbutter

When it comes to exercise, the farther I can get from a gym, the better. I prefer the type of exercise where you don’t really feel you’re having it and count the minutes until it is considered enough. So let’s say that whenever I can, I consider nature to be my gym. Hikes are one of my favorite things to do on a weekend or even on a trip. I’ve also noticed it kind of restarts my brain and gives me more energy to think and start my week afresh. Not to go into too many details, I highly recommend a good hike to reduce your anxiety and stress, to boost your immunity, to give you energy, to make you more productive and help you concentrate.

kadisha valley

In Lebanon, we are spoiled with beautiful places to hike, and they’re all two hours away or less from Beirut. We spent the last two weekends hiking so today I’m sharing one of those days in the Kadisha Valley for inspiration.

The Kadisha Valley, located in Bcharre (click here for the map), is full of important Lebanese history (you can read more about it here). It was my second time hiking there and we spent approximately 6 hours walking down the valley and up again, passing by the Qannoubine monastery. Since it’s the end of winter and the snow is melting, it’s the best time to hike there as you get to see waterfalls and enjoy the perfect weather for hiking. The greenery is also impressive and striking.

kadisha valley

After a long tiring but fun hike, we headed to one of the most popular restaurants in the region, situated in Ehden, called Fardaous (meaning ‘paradise’ 🙂 ). The food was delicious – my opinion here being biased because of extreme hunger 😉 and the view was just perfect.

Here are some photos of the hike for you to get inspired.

kadisha valley kadisha valley hiking hiking wadi kadisha wadi kadisha wadi kadisha | breadonbutter

Don’t forget to stock up on snacks for energy as well as water to keep hydrated and to protect your muscles from cramps that can last days. Our favorite snacks when we go hiking are raw nuts, dried fruits, bananas and coconut bars. Jean has developed the pattern of having a Snickers before the hike, because you’re not you when you’re hungry 😉

Also, if you want to learn more about the region and get a guide who knows all the hiking ways well, you can contact a great guy called Jhonny Bou Ghosn on this number: +961 (3) 290 571

Who here is a fan of hiking? And where do you go? I’d love to know!

   Click HERE to follow our foodie and travel journey on INSTAGRAM @breadonbutter_

and don’t forget to tag us if you try our recipes and tips #breadonbutter

Every single time I visit Byblos, I conclude it’s one of my favorite places in Lebanon. Just knowing I’ll be spending a day or weekend in this lovely city makes me smile. I go there quite often and at any time of year. See, what’s great about this city is that it’s beautiful during all seasons.

In winter, a walk in the fresh and crisp winter air after lunch or right before dinner is the most favorable pick-me-up. Head up the beautiful alley from the main port and take a walk around the old Souk, then sit down for a cuppa’ in one the local coffee shops.

byblos | breadonbutter

byblos | breadonbutter

Head to the Byblos Citadel and absorb its architecture. You can then hurry to Byblos Sur Mer, the loveliest hotel, for a nice and cozy dinner by the chimney. You can even spend the night there in one of their charming rooms with the fluffiest bed ever.

byblos | breadonbutter

Byblos Sur Mer is not only a hotel. You can have lunch or dinner at Tournesol, their indoor restaurant during wintertime and relax by the chimney. Instead of getting a snowy view, you get to admire the sea during winter, which I’ve always found fascinating. We did exactly that 2 weeks ago and got a long reinvigorating weekend. We felt warm, relaxed and ready to face our busy lives again.

byblos | breadonbutter
View from Byblos Sur Mer

During Christmas time, you can also enjoy the decorations and one of the most beautiful Christmas trees in the world according to the Wall Street Journal. You can check the link here

In spring, you can do the same walk but also enjoy the flower market that takes place in the souk around March, and grab a chocolate crepe or frank’s hot dog for street food.

byblos | breadonbutter

Summer is also wonderful in Byblos, as you get to relax and have a delicious mezzeh and fish lunch by the sea at Dar el Azrak. Great fish, the smell of the sea, and then later on take a walk and watch the sunset right before heading to one of the concerts going on during Byblos Festival season. I will be sharing the festival calendar in due time.

byblos | breadonbutter

In fall, the weather gets cooler, you enjoy the end of summer without the heat and the crowd.

byblos | breadonbutter

Byblos Sur Mer is a really great hotel, where the staff is friendly, the interior is so cozy you’ll want to do the same at home, and the food is worthy. You get to enjoy the benefits of a hotel and yet feel like in a guesthouse, welcomed with open arms every time.

The excellent news is: Breadonbutter Readers, you get a discount at Byblos Sur Mer!

Whether it’s for lunch or dinner at Tournesol or Dar el Azrak, or even a night in, just use the code “BOB” to get your 15% discount. To benefit from this offer, all you have to do is email Mona Mounzer before heading there on mona.mounzer@byblossurmer.com for all reservations (don’t forget the code: BOB). The offer is valid till March 31rst, upon availability. 

hotel

room

You can check their website on this link.

Don’t forget to tag @breadonbutter_ on social media when you’re there and snap a picture! 🙂

Unlike last winter, this one promises to be cold and rainy. Unsurprisingly,  everyone seems happy about it. After all, we needed the water and we all miss going skiing on weekends and splurging on Fondue dinners at night in front of a cool fireplace. Over the years, we have explored a lot of cozy places with nice chimneys. So to give you ideas on what to do and where to go this winter, here’s a first list of some of the best fireplaces in town.

Lola – Bikfaya – Lebanon

Located in the heart of the mountains, Lola is a warm restaurant with a magnificent view that opens its doors in summer and winter. For spicy lovers, I strongly suggest their special spicy fondue. You won’t regret it!

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

Byblos Sur Mer – Jbeil – Lebanon

This cozy hotel holds a special place in my heart as that’s where we got married a year ago. With a view over the great Byblos port, they also offer a comfy place to sit and relax by the chimney. Grab a book, order a nice hot cocoa and read the day away.

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

La Maison de la Forêt – Bkassine – Lebanon

Ideal for a weekend away in summer and winter, La Maison de la Forêt is the perfect hideaway. Snuggle with family around their fireplace and enjoy Tawlet Bkassine’s food.

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

La Gargote – Broumana – Lebanon

One of the rare authentic bistrots in the country, La Gargote‘s atmosphere has always stayed true to itself. Head there for a nice Soupe à l’Oignon and enjoy the crackles of the chimney wood in the background.

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

Ristorante La Traviata – Gemmayze – Lebanon

For the ultimate urban winter experience, you must try La Traviata‘s grilled chestnuts! The best thing about it all is that you get to sit outside with your coat still on, sipping wine and eating bits of parmesan cheese. It’ll be up and running by Monday so hurry up and book a table.

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

Pierre and Friends – Batroun – Lebanon

If you just can’t get away from the sea for long, Pierre and Friends‘ fireplace is the place to be.

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

Shangrilla – Laqlouq – Lebanon

For a quiet weekend with board and card games, head to Shangrilla Hotel in Laqlouq and relax by the fireplace. They also just launched their fondue and raclette menu so you’re in for a nice treat.

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

Fireplaces | Breadonbutter

I hope you enjoyed the list and I’d love to know your feedback if you try any of the places! Any other fireplaces suggestions?

Click HERE to follow our foodie and travel journey on INSTAGRAM

Summer weekends in Lebanon are full of packed itineraries. Groups of friends discuss the weekend all week and brainstorm ideas for new things to do and new places to visit. The possibilities are many for such a small country. And that’s because trends are all we follow. The present trend is B&Bs and swimming pools (for us at least).

This weekend, I suggest you drive to Beiteddine, one of the most beautiful towns in Lebanon. There are 2 places I’d recommend there: Bouyouti for a nice sleep and amazing breakfast by the pool, and Mir Amine for a Sunday lunch and also the possibility to laze by the pool.

Bouyouti is nestled in one of the most beautiful valleys ever. The rooms are beautifully decorated with carefully chosen furniture to give the whole space a homey feel. Breakfast is delicious and you can enjoy the pool an beautiful weather before heading to lunch at Mir Amine where a huge buffet is laid out on weekends and you get to listen to live instrumental Arabic music. Here are some pictures:

Bouyouti’s garden and pool:
bouyouti-2

bouyouti-breakfast

bouyouti-pool-2

Bouyouti-pool

Bouyouti

 

The lovely detailed decoration of Bouyouti’s rooms:

 

bouyouti-chimney

bouyouti-rooms-1


bouyouti-room-details

bouyouti-room-details-3

 

bouyouti-room-details-2

 

And Mir Amine:

 

mir-amine
Mir Amine

mir-amine-lunch-2

mir-amine-lunch