From a Different Point of View

This is the same building featured in yesterday's post, but it was taken from a different vantage point.

I just had to get a shot of that green pool in the hollowed out lot next to it.


Colorful Contrast

Sometimes, what with all the concrete and stone facing, Beirut can feel like a very gray, very monochromatic city.

But of course, look a little longer and you'll find a little bit of colorful contrast tucked in there waiting for you to see it.



Beautiful, typical (well, the scooter is typical) classics of the Beirut street.


Down the Street

The view down the sidewalk along one of the major roads of Ain el Mreisseh.



Rope tied into knots hold up the bamboo huts in that beautiful oasis in the Pine Forest. I present this collection of knots in honor of Natalia & Paul, Ruth & Guy, and Emily & James. Two couples are tying the knot today, and one having a belated celebration, and we are so happy for them.


Piled High

Disassembled pieces of scaffolding piled up at one of Beirut's many construction sites. It's funny, but I'm a little bit stunned by how well organized it is.



This lovely little garden with a fountain that always seems to be running is so charming.

The garden belogns to one of the many mosques downtown. It's funny how many mosques and churches there are. Sure, they're outnumbered by the restaurants and shops, but not by much.


Above Bread Republic

One story up from Bread Republic in Achrafieh:

I liked the architectural details. And here, the street view:

There are lots of bakeries in Beirut, but Bread Republic is probably my favorite. They have a lovely ginger honey tea, and perfect cinnamon rolls (they please my American sensibilities, anyway).


Concrete Collage, Again

I really like putting images together in a collection like this. I think this post combined with the others I've published since February have done a pretty good job of representing the variety of this common architectural feature. Of course, I'm always on the lookout for a new pattern or new combination to add to my growing collection.

Want to see more images of concrete blocks that I've posted here at Beirut Pursuit? The link at the bottom of this post will take you to all the others.


Just Right

I love these doors. They have great symmetry and rhythm. The mix of diagonal, curving and straight lines is really well balanced. And they have just the right amount of rust and dust.


Up Front

Windows like this one seem very honest to me. Nothing to prove. What you see is what you get. Take it as it is or not at all.

I think I'd like to have a frank talk with this window about my life. I think it would tell me the truth. It would be hard to sit and listen to it all, but in the end I think the window would be right.


Watch It Live

It's world cup, world cup, everywhere here in Beirut. But it's also the weekend, it's summer. It's party time. What to do? Stay in and watch the game, or go out with friends?

You don't have to choose. All over town, you can go out and still catch the game. Most restaurants have set up huge screens, so viewing the game at their place is even better than at yours.

This place, right on the Corniche, wants you to know they've got you covered. WATCH IT LIVE!, the banner says. They don't even have to tell you what "it" is.

Carry on. In Beirut you can have it all.


Go Fish

Oh, good. The weekend is finally here.



Ever since I was little, floor plans have fascinated me. Each weekend, the Sunday paper arrived and I combed through the real-estate section for drawings of newly constructed homes. I loved imagining the space based on the architect's map of the interior.

There's so much new construction in Beirut, and much of it is residential. Outside some of these new structures, there are floor plans of the interior, and I find them just as fascinating as I ever did.

This plan shows two homes on a single level. The three orange squares are elevators. To the right and left of the elevators are the entrances for each unit.

Some things I find notable:
1. The family bedrooms are all located in a cluster, usually there's a door that separates them from the living space.
2. Two living rooms. This is a must.
3. Two dining areas, also a necessity
4. Separate elevator and entrance for the maid.
5. The maid has a room connected to the kitchen, away from the family space.



A filigree collage for you today. These are some of my favorite decorative arches in the city.


Map of Another Time

The bullets stopped flying years ago, but the facade of this building has yet to forget. It hasn't moved on.

It preserved a kind of tragic map of another time, another conflict, another crisis.

I really hate a lot of the new and newer buildings in Beirut. They lack texture and rhythm and a long list of other qualities, absent virtues. But they also lack history. They lack pain. They testify against no one, blame nothing, make no cry for justice. They are free from oppressive memories and legacies and inheritances. And that quality is (I suppose) virtue enough.


Lots of Bikes

It seems to me that only a few short years ago, renting a bike was still a strange thing to do in Beirut. That's completely changed in recent years. Tourists and locals, young and old can be seen on rental bikes cruising around town. Most of them choose to stay off the roads (too scary, I guess), and so the Corniche is the natural place to be. Here's the sidewalk outside Beirut by Bike--a rental place that does a lot of business at this time of year. They're located just a block from the Corniche at the end near McDonalds. Kids bike rentals cost 5,000 LL an hour.

They do most of their business in the evening, since school's still going here. During the day, the sidewalk outside their shop becomes a kind of workspace where bikes that need it are repaired, adjusted, or upgraded.

Happy riding, everyone.



I took this picture a few months ago and forgot to post it. These folks are working on the penthouse level of a new high-rise.

You'd have to have a strong tolerance for heights to do this sort of work. To prove it, here's the zoom-out.

It's impressive that they can do it, but I feel a bit dizzy just looking at the picture, so I think I'll stop now.


A reflection

Here, the very shiny headquarters of Blom Bank reflecting a neighboring building and the overhead pedestrian link between them.

This weekend you can check out other reflections from around the web and around the world here.


Out Front

In the morning, every morning, crates of fresh stuff arrive at cafes and restaurants around town.

I love the look of it--all that fresh stuff out front, ready for the day.


Openly Sarcastic

Well, yes. It is nice, in a generic sort of way. But it doesn't speak to me. It isn't saying anything. It isn't grabbing my interest.

I mean, it's quaint, right? It has a sort of charm. The carved stone, the little balconies. Great, bravo. But I'm so bored by it! There's no gitz, no glamour, where is the bling?

There's no pop, no pizazz. It needs something. Maybe neon?

Please! Must everything be so traditional and provincial? I'm bored with it! Someone do something, come on!

Now that's more like it. Much, much better. I'm alright, I'm going to be fine. *Phew!* That was close.



Please indulge me in another foray into street art, or art on the street.

That's a letter of the Arabic alphabet, surrounded by crime scene tape. I'm guessing someone murdered it. The only thing missing is the chalk outline, which I guess will be drawn once the detectives arrive to gather evidence.

Here's another:

I've seen others elsewhere in town, even a stunning one in red. That was the first one I saw, and at first I didn't get it. I thought maybe the paint on the letter was wet, maybe that explained the caution tape. But after coming across a few more examples I recognized that someone was trying to tell me something with these letters, these causalities of unnamed, undisclosed violence.

What do you think of it?


We Did It

In the past, I have grumbled about the Pine Forest, an immense green park in Beirut that nobody can get into because it's all fenced off.

Well as it turns out, on Saturday, we found out how to get in there. A friend told us how, and I'll tell you too, but first I want to show you what we found inside:

Right in the middle of the park, there's a lovely sort of village of bamboo huts surrounded by lovely, well-tended, blossoming gardens. It was like an oasis, except that the surroundings were green and lovely too. But it was a really sunny day and the huts provided enough shade that we felt comfortable and cool even at mid-day.

Here's a context shot.

This collection of structures can be seen in this google map image. See the brownish circle in the middle of the triangle? That's it. To get to it, you have to enter the park from the side where the lone red arrow is, from Omar Beyhum street. The entrance is easy to miss, so keep a look out for a green gate. You can park along Omar Beyhum street and enter through the gate.

You can also enter from the opposite side of the park, from November 22 street, as indicated by the other red arrow. But if you do, you'll find a fence between you and the delightful bamboo huts pictured above.



Saturday afternoon while wandering around Hamra, we passed this:

I'll go ahead and call it site-specific art. The site is an urban sidewalk in Hamra. The art consists of a piece of sod and an identifying sign (intentionally referential to Beirut's signs denoting sites of cultural interest) which reads "Enjoy your green space". My kid's in the shot to provide scale.

There is a sense among Beirut's residents that green spaces are too rare, concrete too prevalent, and what parks there are should be better maintained. I'm inclined to agree, mostly because of my personal desire for parks and grass for my kids.

But, if I had to choose one critique to make of Beirut, or if I had the opportunity to channel my creativity and artistic energy into challenging a single aspect of life here--promoting the importance of green space would not be that single thing. It wouldn't even make the top ten. And that's all I'm saying about that.

I don't want to be too critical or hard on this specific piece of social commentary. It's well executed, direct, and laced with just the right amount of wit and snark.


Green Etc.

Summer in Beirut. It's practically here.

I wonder, as it gets hotter, will Beirut look less green?


One Going, One Coming Back

I was facing north to take these pictures; I took one while going, one while coming back.

It was the difference in the light that made me want the comparison. So I took a second image thinking they'd be nearly identical. Now that I've got them, I can see that the angles are completely different. The images are completely different.


A History of Beirut's Newspapers

The other day as I was rushing through downtown, I noticed this:

It's a new outdoor exhibit of the history of newspaper publishing in Beirut, located at the northwest corner of the new downtown shopping mall--Beirut Souks. Reproductions of localy published papers are organized by date and displayed on these pillars. Here are some additional views:

A sign at the exhibit said that the originals are held in the National Library, and that there is a guidebook for the exhibition which features additional images. I'll have to get my hands on it.


Under the Big Top

All through the month of May, the Florilegio Ghiaccio Circus was in Beirut. We were lucky enough to catch one of their last performances. There were tightrope walkers (who frankly terrified me) a lion & tiger tamer, crocodile wrestler, a clown, and much more.

Photos weren't allowed during the show, so I took this one before everything started. Eventually they lowered that metal ball and four motorcyclists (on full size bikes) piled in and defied death zooming around in there at unpardonable speeds.
My husband and kids liked it. I'm glad we went. But next time I might opt to stay behind. I don't like that in so many of the acts I felt quite certain that the performers could, at any moment, die a horrible death.


The Garden Show

On Saturday, we took our kids to the Beirut Garden Show. It's an annual event held in the hippodrome--same one where the horse races take place.

At the show, there was the expected festival food & live music, displays of chic outdoor furniture and accessories, a kids nook with entertainment for tots, etc. But there was also this guy, weaving the seat of a stool.

I was so happy to see this because we actually have two little chairs for our girls that were constructed in a very similar way. In the background you can see a few baskets and these are incredibly typical--if I could make a visual lexicon for Lebanon, this is the basket you'd find in it. Everything, the size, color, shape, construction--that's a Lebanese basket.


Funny Sign

So, technically the sign isn't funny at all. It's just a typical "do not enter" sign. It's the placement that caught my eye. Does that count?

Today all over the world, people are posting funny signs from their city.
Click here to view thumbnails for all participants