Paris – The Most Beautiful City I’ve Been To

I’ve been to quite a few places in the past few years. Some were enjoyable, others were underwhelming. But there’s one place out of them all that stands out, completely and irrevocably drawing me in every time I think of it: Paris.

Paris is the city of the streets that might as well be museums, the frisson that sends shivers up your spine as you get lost around the city marveling at wonder after wonder, the metro that closes at who knows when leaving you stranded and walking back to your hotel at 2 AM, the lovers huddling at Pont Des Arts kissing to a Parisian sunset, the artists singing around Montmartre while you slither your way around winding roads taking you up to Basilique du Sacré Coeur.

Paris is the city of the monuments that you had thought were cliches but can’t really appreciate until you’re standing at Trocadero, looking at the Eiffel tower shining as the sun behind you dies down at 10:30 PM or when you buy an impromptu lunch and sit with your best friend on the grass that is really greener there, under the Eiffel Tower.

Paris is the city that convinces you to splurge on the food that makes your mouth water at the mere mention of it, the ice cream that tastes like the fresh fruits from which it was made. It’s the city of you walking up the Champs-Elysées slightly tipsy from the wine that flows down smoother than water.

Paris is the city which, after two visits, I’ve yet to get enough of. It’s the city that makes me both happy and nostalgic at the thought of it. It’s the city that quickly turns into a main discussion between the people who have been to it. It’s the city that has charm in every step of its sidewalks.

Is there anything more beautiful than Paris? I don’t think so.

Paris - 27 Paris - 34 Paris - 38

Paris - 18

Paris - 45 Paris - 9Paris - 30

Paris - 17

The Cedars & North Lebanon’s Mountains

I finally had enough time on my hand to visit one of my favorite places in Lebanon: the Cedar mountains. They are probably the most underrated locations in the country and are nowhere near as visited as they should be because, quite frankly, very few places in this country can rival them in sheer landscape beauty.

Using my iPhone 5′s panorama feature, I was able to capture what I believe are pretty decent shots of the drive up to the mountains, the town of Becharre with its snowy mountainous backdrop, the Cedar Mountains themselves and part of the Kadisha Valley known as Qozhaya on the way back.

These locations may be far from Beirut – about 130 km – but they’re worth every single minute spent driving and every dollar spent in gas. I think I’m lucky that I live nearby and only need about 30 minutes to get there.

The slopes are superior to those of Mzaar/Sectarian-Kfardebyan and while they are less taken care of, they’re much cheaper and you will be able to get your full money’s worth out of them. The people are a whole lot friendlier as well.

So while many Lebanese are overjoyed that some international publication (click here) has chosen Beirut as the #1 city destination of the region – as if that’s a very hard thing to pull off – I felt like I ought to highlight something in Lebanon that is so ahead any form of “best of” competition in this region that it’s #1 always.

North Lebanon Mountains Cedars - 4

The Mountains from the village of Qnat

 

 

North Lebanon Mountains Cedars 13

The view from Hadath el Jebbeh

North Lebanon Mountains Becharre Cedars

Becharre (on the right) with its mountains behind it

North Lebanon Mountains Cedars - 6

The drive up to the Cedar Mountains

North Lebanon Mountains Cedars - 7

Some of Lebanon’s Cedars – not the main forest, obviously

North Lebanon Mountains Cedars - 8

Panoramic view of part of the mountains

North Lebanon Mountains Cedars - 9

Part of the Cedar forest

North Lebanon Mountains Cedars Qozhaya

The drive to Qozhaya

 

North Lebanon Mountains Qozhaya Annoubin Kadisha

The view from St. Anthony of Qozhaya convent (on the left) – part of the Kadisha Valley



 

 

 

Lebanon’s January 2013 Storm In Pictures

Lebanon’s weather was all over the place this past week. The “Bride” storm (Or Georgette or Olga as some have called it – we sure can’t agree on a storm name as well) is ending and it was one of the biggest snowstorms to hit Lebanon in years. Torrential rain and snow, including some accumulations on the Lebanese coast, have all been documented. The joke for the first days of the storm went: Skiing and swimming at the same time are now much easier because the storm has brought the sea to your home. For the next few days, the storm brought the snow to your sea.

Many casualties have fallen to the storm, notably young infants of Syrian refugees who died of the freezing cold. Many Lebanese have had their houses completely ruined in the Beiruti neighborhood of Hay el Sellom due to the nearby river flooding.

I have reverted to the following Facebook page (here) unless otherwise specified in order to collect as many pictures as I can and include them here.

Don’t you just love how Lebanon looks after a decent blizzard? I sure do.

Achkout

Achkout

Achkout

Achkout

View of Beirut

View of Beirut

This is Batroun's beach

This is Batroun’s beach

My hometown Ebrine

My hometown Ebrine

Sawfar

Sawfar

Jounieh Bay

Jounieh Bay

Aito, in the North

Aito, in the North

Hrajel

Hrajel

Hasroun - Picture from the Daily Star

Hasroun – Picture from the Daily Star

Jounieh Highway

Jounieh Highway

Ehden

Ehden

Jounieh highway

Jounieh highway

Klei3at

Klei3at

Ein El Mraysseh - Picture from the Daily Star

Ein El Mraysseh – Picture from the Daily Star

This is a picture in the Jbeil caza

This is a picture in the Jbeil caza

Raachine -

Raachine -

Manara, Bekaa

Manara, Bekaa

Bteghrine, Metn

Bteghrine, Metn

Dhour el Choueir

Dhour el Choueir

Ajaltoun

Ajaltoun

Hay el Sellom - Picture by the Daily Star

Hay el Sellom – Picture by the Daily Star

Baalbak

Baalbak

 

Lille, France

I spent the month of August discovering the gorgeous city of Lille in Northern France. I went there for a clerkship at one of the city’s hospitals and I absolutely fell in love with its culture, its people and everything it had to offer. Lille is one of France’s biggest cities and yet it still has this rustic feel to it – especially in its older streets, aptly called Vieux Lille.

I made a lot of memories in that city. I won’t go down memory lane and enumerate them for you because I’m fairly certain you couldn’t care less. But I am thankful for getting the chance to go there and meet the people that I met and make those memories that I cherish now.

Xavier & Camille, our amazing French hosts and friends that made us feel at home – literally – for the entire month that we spent there, this is for you. Thank you for everything.

Here are some of the many pictures that I took of the beautiful city of Lille. I’m not a professional so these are not meant to be impeccable – but I do hope my love for the city comes across in them.

Palais des Beaux Arts

Palais des Beaux Arts

Another old street in the city

Another old street in the city

A parc bench in the city

A parc bench in the city

Rue de Bethune

Rue de Bethune

The city's opera house

The city’s opera house

Vieux Lille

Vieux Lille

The view from our apartment

The view from our apartment

A statue next to Palais des Beaux Arts

A statue next to Palais des Beaux Arts

A war monument

A war monument

One of the city's cathedrals

One of the city’s cathedrals

Lille France Street

Welch - one of the city's specialities

Welch – one of the city’s specialities

Lille France Restaurant Comptoir 44

Inside one of Lille's cathedrals

Inside one of Lille’s cathedrals

A mural found in one of Lille's subway and train stations: Lille Europe

A mural found in one of Lille’s subway and train stations: Lille Europe

One of the specialties of the North

One of the specialties of the North

Beer, another specialty

Beer, another specialty

Another street in the old parts of the city

Another street in the old parts of the city

One of the streets of Vieux Lile

One of the streets of Vieux Lile

The opera house

The opera house

Gargoyles

Gargoyles

The city's heart - place du General De Gaulle also known as Grand Place

The city’s heart – place du General De Gaulle also known as Grand Place

Lille doesn't like Sarkozy

Lille doesn’t like Sarkozy

Old Street Lille vieux Lille France

Another street in old Lille

These pictures were taken using a Nikon D5100 and edited using my iPhone 5′s Camera+ app.

2012′s Most Powerful Pictures

Buzz Feed has recently published a set of 45 pictures that they’ve called 2012′s Most Powerful Pictures. And the least that can be said about these pictures is that they’re chilling. Some of them are haunting, others will bring tears to your eyes. And they are all supremely striking.

Woman suicide Greece

A Greek woman’s suicide attempt as she’s told she would be laid off work

Bangladesh Riot Beating woman with baton

A woman from Bangladesh defies the police

Palestinian girl punching Israeli soldier

A little Palestinian girl tries to punch an Israeli soldier

Syrian Father saving daughter hospital Aleppo

A Syrian father trying to save his daughter’s life after his city, Aleppo, was shelled by regime forces.

Father begging Bangladesh soldier Myanmar

A father from Myanmar begs a border control officer from Bangladesh not to deport his family back to Myanmar

An American woman mourns her son on Memorial Day

An American woman mourns her son on Memorial Day

Check out the rest of the brilliant pictures here.

[NSFW] Sex: The New Food of Instagram

It is common knowledge that the most shared types of pictures of Instagram are those of meals. Be it their lunch, dinner or breakfast, people just love to snap pictures of their food, apply some filter on it and share it for the whole world to see. I don’t have a problem with that but it has become a running joke with many.

But there’s a new type of “food” that’s making its way around Instagram. And you’ll know what I mean once you see this picture:

I guess we can say someone has been all tied up in the matters of breakfast.

This makes my Instagram pictures (example 1 and example 2) look very mundane. I don’t post much but I cannot begin to fathom sharing any sexual exploits there. I guess I’m too conservative for that. But whatever floats one’s boat.

 

 

Pope Benedict XVI’s Visit To Lebanon in Pictures

With the Pope leaving Lebanon on Sunday and those who had seizures caused by his three visit stay recovering, I figured it would be nice to have a chronicle of sorts for the visit.

These are pictures amassed from different sources, be it from Facebook friends who attended the festivities, BBC, Washington Post.

Day 1: Arrival to the airport and signing of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation at St. Paul’s Catholic Church. 








Day 2: Meeting with Christian Youth at Bkerke (Les jeunes et le Pape à la Foi – cool play on words)





How Zaitunay Bay looked on day 2

Day 3: The Mass in Downtown Beirut and leaving Lebanon