Back to Itinerary
Beirut - On the Town with Rosette and Collette

Sunday, February 21st, - BEIRUT, ON THE TOWN

Rosette, Wadad and Collette in the Pedestrian Plaza

I slept until 12:00 noon today. Wadad gave me great Lebanese coffee. She was shocked at how much I drank. We had a lunch delivered of chicken, hummus, eggplant, Arabic bread, and green salad. It was delicious. $9 each, delivered! Then we went to the grocery store, “Le Charcutier Aoun”, right across the street. A man carried our purchases up to our apartment for a 75-cent tip. He was very happy to do it.

The Lebanese Lira exchange rate is amazing! 1,500 LL = $1 USD. So, it takes $15,000 to equal $10. It feels like one is spending a vast amount of money, but you still have plenty left over! It is a lovely feeling after experiencing the EURO.

Wadad’s friend Rosette came in her car in the early evening to take us to dinner. She came up and had coffee and visited first. The coffee, I have learned, is a tradition—a ritual social activity. Rosette is such a nice person. She took us to pick up Collette (“Coco” they called her) and to see Rosette’s apartment. Wow! It is at the top of a high hill in downtown Beirut and is simply breathtaking. A separate light switch for each row of lights in the crystal chandelier. Now that’s clever.

Saralee, Wadad and Collette

Coco works for a software firm. She started in COBOL programming, as I did, and moved up from there. She is now IBM’s representative in the Gulf; Dubai, Amman, Basra, Abu Dubai. She travels there frequently. She was so fascinating to talk with.

Pedestrian Plaza at night, full of families

We went to the pedestrian streets in the center of town, near the Hariri Mosque fashioned after the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. It was built by the senior President Hariri, who was assassinated. His son also built the huge, ornate cemetery for his father, which we passed in our drive around town. I did not go inside this mosque, but I have been inside the Blue Mosque.

Mosque lit up at night

We girls had dinner at an outside table at the restaurant called Kayser Paris. I had croquet monsieur, Coco had Caesar salad and Wadad and Rosette shared a pizza.

Dining outdoors with a French Flair

It was fun to see the people smoking hookas at table everywhere. Now THAT’s what I call smoking! The carriers are much like wine stewards, having to bring the large water pipes to your table, which takes up the room of one person. The business surrounding these pipes is very colorful.

Handsome young men tend to the water pipes

After dining, we walked around the Plaza. The women were so generous and considerate of me—the visitor. Everyone could speak English beautifully, and did so for my benefit.

Beirut at night

Rosette took us on a wonderful tour of the city at night, including the Rivera Beach area where we got out and looked at the famous "Pigeon Grotto".

The "Pigeon Grotto" is much larger than it looks in this shot at night

Afterwards, they brought us home. These women are real friends to Wadad. Coco tried to pay for all of our meals, but Wadad wouldn’t let her. I’m glad about that. I tried to pay, too, but they wouldn’t let me.

Rosette offered to share a hookah with me. They call it “Nargile”. I said yes, but she never called the server to order it. She said they use tobacco only, nothing more, and that it is a pleasant experience to hear and feel the water gurgling as you take puffs. She said the steam cleans and cools the tobacco. Although I'm not a smoker, I would like to try it one day.

Rosette has a bubbly and happy, very warm personality. Coco is a reserved, but she has a twinkle in her eye. If we knew each other longer, I feel we would be friends.

Back to Itinerary