First and foremost, this new segment came to life over lunch on the shores of Batroun. You see, we decided, Ranya and I to discover Lebanon over the weekends (on sundays), instead of lazily spending the day under the sun at some beach resort, drinking cocktails and gazing at God sent Middle Eastern men(Not!).
Whenever we travel abroad, we tend to take part of tours so as to get to know the city we are visiting in- depth and explore its culture/ history through ancient ruins and past civilization. We tend to forget, often dismiss, that our country is rich with history and holds many villages with their own custom and unique way of life. I have been living in Lebanon, more or less 20 years now, and I admit I do not know pass its capital, Beirut. Yes, it’s a shame. But it’s never too late, hence wanting to share my experiences with you, each and every time we set to head somewhere. Enough introductions.
Batroun, here we come!
Leaving Beirut around 11am, it took us merely a 50minute drive to enter the Northern City of the District of Batroun. Batroun is located on the coastal shore. It is one of the oldest city in the world blending Phoenician, Greek and Roman ancestry. Rich with culture and history, you can say that Batroun is a little heavenly place for a weekend-scapade.
Driving within the narrow streets is a skill an urban person will find hard to master. However, Ranya managed to find a spot to park. Since it was a Sunday (lunch time), we noticed many houses with doors wide open; the men preparing the food on the charcoal grill on the street, while children were running around. The aroma of grilling meat was distinct and the atmosphere around the family gatherings heart warming.
We started walking towards the famous Phoenician Wall. The Batroun docks is separated by a 225m long wall built by the Phoenicians in the 9th century. Its purpose was to protect the locals from attacks from the Assyrians. This fortification stands still until this day and is a famous spot for tourists form all around Lebanon. You can take amazing panoramic shots of the view.
Just before leaving, I noticed a modest door leading to a chapel. The Chapel in question is called Saydet el Baher which was built on the ruins of a Byzantine Church. Her icons date from 1813. I was attracted to this peaceful refuge instantly and lit a candle while praying.
I personally am a person who loves to take strolls and discover new places. I usually do that in and around Beirut and I am always amazed at what I see. Same goes within the streets of Batroun. Of course, the souk was closed, it being a Sunday. I felt abroad. The whole time we were walking, I felt I was taken back to Pafos (Cyprus) and Rodos (Greece) simultaneously. The old architecture, the port itself, the whole vibe was out of this world.
Do not forget to visit the famous Church over shadowing the docks; St Stephen. I am sure many locals celebrated their blissful wedding in that Church. I imagine future generations to be officiating their weddings and children’s Baptism traditionally there as well.
So far the day was flawless. We decided to have lunch in a restaurant located along the sea shore. It was very windy yet the temperature exhilarating. I had seen a lot of pictures of Chez Maguy, the local restaurant we decided to dine in, yet never took the time to read the reviews. I remember one local person warned me against going there. Said it was over rated. I wish I had listened to him. And I had read those reviews. The food we had was average. Not mind blowing at all. Your typical fattoush and hummus were served along side warak enab. The hummus tasted like those fresh out of a can, not even decorated like in your typical Lebanese restaurant,whereas the fattoush was too acid Furthermore, the fish we selected was average and the main pieces burnt. The staff was friendly and the bathroom clean. This place is your typically endorsed over rated restaurant. The price for the food intake is mind blowing. I know I would try another local hidden gem in Batroun but never again Chez Maguy. Oh and will use Trip Advisor more often.
This is my second time in Batroun. I know it won’t be my last. It’s a gem of a city. Cosy and full of nice welcoming people.
I am a person that is much attracted by the sea. I imagine myself living in a small coastal town, curled up on a chair, comfortably sipping my coffee, watching the blue-ish never ending waters and listening to the waves crush onto the rocks and sand. Picture perfect right? One day… That dream will come true. Till then let’s enjoy Batroun more frequently.