When thinking about Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, many people only associate extremism and war. But Beirut is here – and it’s beautiful.

When I showed up in Beirut alone, 22 years old, without knowing a single person, I did it because I wanted to know for myself what Beirut was like. What I found in place of extremism were young people pushing for religious tolerance, friendships across sects, and mosques coexisting with churches. Instead of war I found craft beer, shwarma at midnight, and house parties in old French style flats. People from all backgrounds welcomed me into their lives and let me listen to their stories. Beirut is full of noise and color. I have to confess, Beirut you surprised me.

“I didn’t expect
to fall
so in love with
every heavy moment,
every late night house party,
every boy
at every late night house party
who I stare at with Almaza eyes
thinking of the ways
he reminds me of you

I didn’t expect
to feel
so wanted here
and here I go again
falling in love
with those brown, dirty children
who spend their time at the corniche
trying to shine my tennis shoes,
the hijabi girls
drinking beer with their boyfriends,
the taxi drivers
who never stop honking their horns
at red lights

I don’t know how
to explain this fullness
in the tiny space a postcard provides,
but I’m not so sure you want me to try
so here for the last time I’ll tell you
that the sea blends perfectly into the sky
and the mountain snow is just cold enough
to give me a brain freeze,
the bombs are quiet,
the streets are loud
I write to you
because even here
it’s all I know how to do”

Beirut, you captured my heart.

Insider Travel Advice

If you’re traveling to Beirut, I recommend checking out the neighborhoods of Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael. There you’ll find French architecture, colorful street art, and a vibrant, young art scene. Coop D’Etat is a great rooftop bar in Gemmayzeh that’s worth a visit. The American University of Beirut in Hamra has beautiful gardens and some of the best views of the sea. Also in Hamra is my favorite bakery, Gustav. Most importantly, talk to people! Beirut has some of the kindest and most hospitable people you’ll ever meet, so get to know them.



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