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12th Jan 2011 – Flat line for Beirut

March 4, 2011

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A quiet night eating assorted nuts and a few beers before we stretch for the capital makes for another lazy morning. When the weather is so great, these lazy mornings are definitely something to savour. We enjoy the coast and Julian even goes for a refreshing skinny dip in the Med before we make our way to Beirut that we can spy towering in the distance.

You can feel the impending weight of a city approaching often as you cycle into it, and Beirut has a heavy weight to bear. The congestion starts about 20km before the centre, and we are completely inundated by 5 lane super traffic.

It doesn’t take long however for our London commuter mode to kick in and we’re swerving our rigs effortlessly (almost) through the throng of Lorries, monster trucks and tanks (not far from the truth, though Beirutis love it BIG when it comes to cars)

We make our way down a huge highway artery into what feels like the heart of the city, and we’re exhausted. There are only so many fumes you can withstand on a hot day. We break off down a side street and are greeted by the only cyclist we have seen in the whole time we’re in the city, and it turns out to be a girl from the UK! She points us in the direction of a good cheap hotel and we follow her to a cafe to use the internet and get our bearings.

The cafe is a little above our station, and we feel rather out of place as we share a ludicrously expensive latte in our shorts and stinking of camp and lack of washing while we’re surrounded by Beirut’s young finest. We overhear an English guy tell of the Lebanese government on the verge of collapse while he gets his shoes shined. The shop next door asks us to move our bikes as they’re causing ‘a disturbance’… is this what Beirut is going to be like? We head out and towards our recommended accommodation, which fits just right (although it turns out it’s the ONLY low budget accommodation in the whole city – another telltale sign of the character of Beirut)

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