As promised, contributors to Breadonbutter will be sharing more of their experiences on the blog. The first article is a Travel one by the talented and bubbly Carla Richa, a multimedia journalism student at LAU. She writes about her days in Barcelona and how it felt to go back after visiting when she was young. Enjoy the read as she takes you through the streets of this colorful city, its culture and the 3 p’s.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
9- Have a late BBQ lunch on the rocks. You can find a lot of public beaches with clear blue water and settle there.
10- For a nice late afternoon drink, try Colonel Beer. The setting is relaxed and the beer is excellent!
There you go! A perfect weekend in Batroun 🙂 I’d love to hear about your suggestions!
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Having just returned from there, I am sharing with you today a summary of our Croatian diary.
Like other European countries, Croatian cities (or at least the ones I saw – Dubrovnik, Split and their islands and surroundings) have preserved their old town cachet. More than in any other place I’ve been to, I’ve enjoyed walking inside the old city walls, and we had so much fun visualizing the lives of their ancestors walking on those same stones we were exploring.
If you’re heading to Croatia anytime soon, here are some tips for things to do.
If you happen to be a fan of guesthouses and Bed & Breakfasts, I suggest you book a room at Pupo Rooms or at Guesthouse Perica (both found on booking.com). Those are 2 of the loveliest guesthouses I have ever been to. Their hosts are so cute and helpful you won’t want to leave.
Seafood ant meat stew are your typical Croatian/Dalmatian food. For lunch, just grab a few things from a nearby supermarket and head on an island for a nice picnic and swim. For dinner however, a nice meal in the Old Town is just lovely. We strongly suggest: Wanda Restaurant and Lady Pipi.
You should definitely buy a ticket to be able to walk the Old City Walls. It’s an hour walk, overlooking the whole city and it’s just amazing! You also shouldn’t miss the panoramic city view from the Dubrovnik cable car.
Head to Dubrovnik’s lovely islands! The closest one is Lokrum, where you can sit around all day just relaxing by the sea. Just don’t forget to take your picnic with you as there are no restaurants on the islands except one and it’s just too touristic. One other beautiful island we visited was Mljet, 2 hours and a half away by boat. When you get there, buy your tickets to the national park and head to the lakes. It is just so calm and beautiful you’ll want to stay there forever.
Split (and surroundings)
Most of the people we met in Split were, like us, sleeping in Podstrana, a small village ten minutes away from the center of Split by bus. If you can get a good deal at Le Meridien, or at The Residences (right next to it), you’ll find the perfect place to relax and enjoy your vacations.
Eat and Drink
For lunch, a good pizza slice will do the trick. What is better, is also a traditional ćevapi – which resembles our version of Kebab, but with an absolutely tasty homemade bread and relish. You can have the best ćevapi at a small place called Kantun Paulina. For dinner, you must try Bajamont, a traditional domestic food place in the middle of Old Town Split. Lovely and yummy! And for my birthday, we enjoyed – among other delicious things – a great Croatian Bouillabaisse at Paradigma.
Walk around the old city center of Split and enjoy the history.
You can also head to Hvar or Brač for a day on an island or even take a one-day boat trip on a katamaran (make sure to book your places a few days in advance at the Split port). Marjan is also a nice area to spend the day at the beach.
Here are some pictures. I will let them speak for themselves! Enjoy 🙂
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:
The lovely detailed decoration of Bouyouti’s rooms:
And Mir Amine: