Passport magazine: Russian lifestyle
Home Archive November 2008

About Us

From the Publisher

Contact Us

Current IssueArchive
Restaurant GuideRestaurant ReviewsInternational Food BlogsWine TastingsTravelMoscow EmbassiesAirlines to RussiaMoscow AirportsCustoms and VisasResidence permitMoscow Phone DirectoryMuseums and GalleriesWi-Fi Hot Spots in MoscowClubs!Community ListingsMoscow Downtown MapMoscow Metro MapRussian LinksInternational Links
Advertise with Us
Our Readers - a profileAdvertising RatesDistribution List
Click for Moscow, Russia Forecast
Our Partners
Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Postcard from Beirut
Text and photos Anne Coombes

Beirut may not seem an ideal holiday destination; on January 25, 2008, a bomb blast in the city left four dead and 38 injured. However, I’m passing through with my history- nut husband — on our way to view the ancient sites of Palmyra and Baalbek.

St. George’s Bay

Martyrs’ Square, once a genteel park surrounded by elegant Ottoman mansions, lies at the city’s heart. It was once a meeting place for families and lovers, young and old alike; they gathered under its palms. That was before the fighting began. Now, it’s scarred with the acne of bullet holes; sixteen years of civil confl ict have taken their toll. Beirut may have a skyline of cranes and construction scaffolding, but, here, it’s riddled with reminders of the past. The square stood right on the “green line” — the area most fought over by rival Christian and Muslim militias. They pounded its delicate buildings into mere shadows. Now, cobwebbed in weeds, they resemble ruined tombs. By night, they’re eerily gothic, almost whispering the names of their ghosts.

In its 1960s heyday, Beirut was the playground of the rich and famous, attracting stars like Brigitte Bardot, David Niven, and Elizabeth Taylor. They stayed at the Hotel St. Georges, which looks across the turquoise water of St. George Bay from its location at the northern end of the city’s coastal promenade, the Corniche. Sadly, the hotel was one of many buildings severely damaged during the fighting.

Roman ruins

My expectations for our few days here were low; surprisingly, we’ve fallen in love with the place. Beirut may once have been a major war zone but it’s back on the map big time, rising from the scorched rubble with renewed vigor. Funding has flooded in to transform the battered capital. We’ve jostled our way through crowded avenues — where street vendors and top designer stores vie for attention — and find the hustle and bustle is infectious; each day the city lures us to explore deeper and deeper. Beirut has one of the world’s liveliest nightclub scenes, and no wonder — there’s too much electricity in the air to sleep.

My favorite spot is the Corniche, where the Mediterranean sparkles by day and glitters by night. In between is the magical time of dusk. The sun melts through irresistible shades of rose and lilac and small bars invite us to linger until the last rays are extinguished. We’ve taken to sitting with a cocktail (me) or cup of Lebanese coffee (him). The whole city emerges, keen to enjoy the cool evening air.

Best of all is the view from Al-Sakhra’s cliff-terrace-café. It overlooks Pigeon Rocks, two natural arches washed by the sea. We order plates of fresh hummus, tabbouleh, and pita bread, followed by honey-rich baklava — a guaranteed recipe for happiness.

Beirut is, more than anything, a place of contrasts. On the street, a multitude of languages and faces assails you. Minarets stand next to church bell towers, many of which date back to the Crusades. As foundations for new buildings are dug, Greek and Roman columns and pedestals come to light. Contemporary glass and steel counterpoint subtle pink and ochre facades. This is a city with a dynamic future as well as a venerable past. It’s accelerating forward and, God willing, will carve its path through the 21st century with more laughter than tears.

At present there are no direct flights between Moscow and Beirut, but a number of airlines (see partial list below) provide service with one connection. Prices range from US$700-900 round-trip.
Turkish Airlines (through Istanbul)
Czech Airlines (through Prague)
Luft hansa (through Frankfurt)
Moscow is one hour ahead of Beirut.
In general visas are required for travel to Lebanon. For information, visit
In Moscow, call the Lebanese Embassy at 200-0022/200-2083 or email 

 Copyright 2004-2012 +7 (495) 640 0508,,
website development – Telemark
OnLine M&A Russia Deal Book
Follow Us