Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Beirut Nights

There’s recently been a rash of articles labeling Beirut as the top holiday destination in the world. According to this, 100 per cent, totally authoritative site, which is in no way associated with Jameson's Whiskey, Beirut’s got two bars in the top 100, and they’ve somehow forgotten Sky Bar.

I thought I’d offer up a little additional comment… one that Lebanese will see as run of the mill, no doubt.

I went out for dinner last night at Le Grey, a sophisticated, modern hotel in Beirut’s Downtown, aimed at the refined, wealthy international traveler (I slipped in while the doorman was parking one of the hotel’s Audis). Following dinner, I walked down in what I know as Lower Downtown (Lina’s, Paul, etc.) for ice cream at that high-end Italian joint.

Le Grey's Infinity Pool... fancy and not, normally
for the likes of me

After sating myself on whiskey, dead cow, ice cream and coffee I headed back home. A wonderful night was had.

The clock was inching toward midnight, millimeter by excruciating millimeter.

No sooner had the key turned in the lock than the power went out. I can’t describe the sound, beyond saying that it’s something like a heavy stack of newspapers being dropped on the pavement. There’s a solid “thump” to it, but “thump” doesn’t do it justice. It’s a sound that anyone who’s lived in Lebanon soon becomes intimately familiar.

The standard crescendo of UPSes went off, a veritable Christmas-like twinkling of little red and green lights flickered as appliances turned off as the apartment reverberated with beeps and pings.

A UPS - A cheap alternative to David Guetta

Bastard. You utter bastard.

There I was looking forward to a quiet night’s sleep.

No sooner had I locked the door, stood on the cat, and fumbled around for ten minutes before finding my trusty dynamo torch, than the power came on. It was a miracle. I ran to the bedroom fired up the A/C, turned off all the lights that I’d inadvertently turned on while making sure they were, in fact, turned off and proceeded to take my lenses out.

Then, after a teasing two or three minutes of bliss, the lights went out again.

So, there I was, one contact lens on my finger, scrabbling in the pitch black for my trusty dynamo torch. Got it. Now, winding it, trying not to lose my contact and avoiding the cat, who by this time was walking between my legs, was a challenge that my Johnnie Walker-marinated brain just about proved equal to. It was a near thing though.

All done, I headed to bed. Where, due to there being no wind last night, I lay in a stupor staring at the ceiling as a fine layer of sweat slowly appeared.

I got about two hours sleep.

Beirut Nights.

They never mention the government-enforced Midnight Curfew in the brochure, do they?

Beirut. I love you. But you drive me to distraction.