Likes & Dislikes


“Though our accommodation was in the Christian quarter, the music which blared over our breakfast was 100% Arab, while the orange juice was maybe 10% orange (and judging from the taste, mostly the rind.)
The street signs were mostly written in the Latin alphabet, with Arab letters used only here and there. When our car crossed over into the Muslim Arab quarter, however, the ratio was reversed. What struck us most, however, were the billboards featuring scantily clad women advertising the latest lingerie fashions. That sort of this is hardly ever seen in other Middle Eastern countries.

It was a Friday, a holiday for Muslims, and also Easter for Greek Orthodox Christians, who are numerous here. A few decades ago, the Christian population was still the majority, but an influx of immigrants and the more prolific reproduction of the Muslim population has shifted the balance.
Officially, seventeen churches are represented here, and of course each one keeps its own holidays, so work is constantly being interrupted. None of this is very visible on the street, however: most of the shops are open, and cars throng the two-lane road in at least three lines.

Beirut, with its million inhabitants, is just waking up. This seaside capital, which has seen many better days, is no longer a place I’d call ‘The Paris of the Middle East’ as it was even as recently as the 1970s. The city was battered by a fifteen-year civil war, and is only beginning to recover.
The railway line built by the French, which once bisected the country, has disappeared without a trace – no tracks, no stations – as though it had never existed. With the exception of a few minibus taxis on fixed routes, public transport is non-existent, so the constant traffic jams are hardly a surprise. Gas is extremely cheap, at under a dollar a liter, so gas-guzzling SUVs are popular among the wealthier set. (Phica, 2019)



Driving style:

Yellow light normally means slow down. In Lebanon, it means "Let's race"



Lebanon - vendor - ata photo

Lebanon - bazaar - ata photo

Lebanon - trunk sale - ata photo

Lebanon - Beirut - ata photo

Public safety

“Personally, I consider both the city of Beirut and the country of Lebanon as a whole to be safe. Many soldiers stand at street corners with machine guns, but anyone who has visited Israel will quickly get used to this. Terror attacks are not frequent and are universally condemned. It is permitted to take photographs, but it’s still sensible to be cautious when waving a camera around – it’s always possible that after taking a photograph of an ornate but seemingly innocent building, only to be approached by a soldier who asks to see what photos we have just taken. We never had a problem, and after the soldiers were satisfied we had nothing confidential, they let us go. Nothing ever had to be erased. (aá, 2019)

“You don’t have to worry – it’s been four years since the last terror attack. Well, ok, there was an exchange of fire at the Israeli border not long ago, but there’s no reason to go down there (actually we did end up going there, It was with rationalizations like these that I reassured myself about visiting Lebanon, all the more so since I had been kicking myself for years for not visiting Syria when it was still safe and beautiful.
The State Department website mentions the Bekaa Valley as an area to avoid, but then that’s where Baalbek is – possibly the country’s number one tourist attraction.” (2019)

Lebanon- Beirut - street-plates - ata photo




Lebanon - national flag with green cedar tree in the middle - ata photo

Destination in brief

Lebanon is a small Middle Eastern country. Neighbors: Syria (north and east), Israel (south). Lebanon has a coast along the Mediterranean Sea. 

Size: 10,452 km² (4,035 mi²)

Capital city: Beirut

Population (in 2020): 6.8 million

Language: Arabic is the official language - French and English is widely spoken

Religions: 36% Christians, the 29% Sunni Muslim, the 28% Shia Muslim, the 5.2% Druze,

Form of government: multi-party democracy, republic

Lebanon became independent in 1943.

The Ottoman Empire ruled Lebanon since the 16th Century. After the First World War, France controlled the territory as a colony, and starting 1920 as a League of Nations mandate. 

Currency: Lebanese pound (LBP)

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 930 USD

Most common surname: Khoury

Best time to visit: March-May


As in 2020, Lebanon suffers its worst economic and financial crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war, resulting in recession, a plunge in foreign reserves, and rising inflation.


“Lebanon is characterized by its diversity – while I was absorbed in the beauties of some relics from the Byzantine period, the voice of the muezzin sounded through a loudspeaker from the top of a nearby minaret. Then, from another, a prayer of a completely different rhythm and the melody was struck up. While they struggled to outdo one another, the bell began to ring in the Armenian church. I was reminded of Romania, where an Orthodox church is constructed in every Transylvanian village, even if there are not in fact any Orthodox believers living there, just to show that this is Romanian territory. The Arabs do something similar, demonstrating the power of Islam by building mosques wherever they can. In Baalbek, a mosque has been constructed with Iranian money, and the gilding can be seen glinting from a long way off. This place of worship is then ringed in fences and tank traps, to protect it from terror attacks.” (2019)

Lebanon - beach - ata photo

Tourist etiquette


Lebanon - beach scene - ata photo



Tripoli, Lebanon

Lebanon - Tripoli - z.b. photo

Lebanon - Tripoli - Al Mansouri Mosque - z.b. photo

Lebanon - Tripoli - z.b. photo

Lebanon - Tripoli - z.b. photo


Lebanon - Tyre (Tyros) - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Lebanon - Tyros - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Lebanon - Tyros - Viktor Ohotin's photo


Lebanon - Sidon - Sea Castle - Viktor Ohotin's photo


Lebanon - Baalbek - ancient Roman ruins - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Lebanon - Baalbek - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Lebanon - Baalbek - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Lebanon - Baalbek - Viktor Ohotin's photo


Lebanon - Byblos (Jbeil) - Viktor Ohotin's photo

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