Tag Archives: Hamra

To move, or not to move. That is the question.

Before you get all worried..No.  I’m not moving back home just yet.  You can’t get rid of me so easily!

That being said, I’m seriously considering moving out of Hamra and into either Monot, Gemmayze, or Achrafieh.   Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE Hamra – so much so in fact, that I hardly ever leave.  But, therein lies the problem!  I think I have become a little too comfortable, and am ready to step out of my comfort zone once again, and explore some unfamiliar territory. …meet new people, try new restaurants and pubs, peek into all of the charming boutiques and mom-and-pop shops, and simply meandering the winding streets and seeing where I end up, who I meet, and what I discover along the way.

Yes, I’ve gone out in Monot, Gemmayze, and Achrafieh maybe a handful of times..but I really want to get to know these ares of Beirut better.  I won’t be in Lebanon forever (well, never say never I guess), and it would be a shame to leave without to getting to really know these parts of the city.

My landlady has done her part in making this decision easy for me.  As of July, she is raising the rent $100, and that just ain’t cool.  But I have to say, I do live on a pretty prime piece of land (right off of Bliss, near AUB, and 5-10 minutes walk from everything Hamra has to offer).  So, I guess I can understand where she is coming from.  But stillll!

What do you say??  What would you do if you were me?  Stay in Hamra, or move to either Monot, Gemmayze, or Achrafieh..and why?  And here comes the all important question.  Does anyone know of an apartment in those areas available for rent?  I know I have to get a move on it, as finding an apartment here literally means going door to door and talking to the “natour” of every building, and with the Summer season coming up, I need to start on this like YESTERDAY so that the prices don’t go through the roof..  Speaking of “talking to the natour,” any one of you fluent Arabic speakers want to help me bargain??  I’m sure your well aware that only speaking English does not help me in these situations. :D

And finally, is anyone interested in a spacious AND furnished two bedroom apartment which includes a washing machine and dryer?  HOLLER back..and I will personally give you a tour of my pimp pad that many would say I’m crazy to give up.  $600 per tenant/$1200 total, not including  utilities.

Help me make my decision!  Stay in Hamra, or move to Monot, Gemmayze, or Achrafieh???!!

HAMRA

Hamra Street

The lively Hamra Main Street. A mere one minute walk from my current apartment..

photo credit

Bread Republic Hamra

One of my favorite neighborhood hangouts..and the best breakfast place in Hamra..Bread Republic.

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MONOT

Monot Beirut Lebanon

Beautiful wall in Monot..

Monot Street

Monot Street has it's fair share of awesome pubs and restaurants..

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GEMMAYZE

Gemmayze Stairs

The beautiful St. Nicolas Stairs in Gemmayze..brutal after a long night out pub hopping

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Gemmayze Lebanon

Gemmayze..just beautiful!

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Achrafieh Lebanon

Charming, Old Achrafieh

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Mosaic Achrafieh

Ashrafieh as seen by Krikor's lense

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The top 5 pubs in Hamra

According to me.

The Speakeasy Hamra

1

Ferdinand Hamra

2

Bricks Hamra

3

De Prague Hamra

4

Flo Hamra

5

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Rediscovery..

It’s amazing how walking around with my family has made me rediscover Hamra.  Here are some photos from our day yesterday..

Piccadilly Theatre Beirut

I really wonder what this theatre was like in its glory days..

Hamra Lebanon

Inside on of Hamra's souvenir shops

Hamra, Lebanon

Honey, cheese, anything pickled?

Hamra Lebanon

Hang them dry..

Hamra Lebanon

Take a seat..no, I insist!

Hamra Lebanon

I'll take the truck

Hamra Lebanon

Mannequins..

Hamra Lebanon

It's only a game of bottle cap chess

Lebanese food

Cafe Blanc..

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The Vine House..

Have you seen it?  It’s right across from the large Bar Bar in I guess what you would call “Upper Hamra.”..  I love how the vines have completely engulfed the house..

Old houses in Hamra

Isn't it a striking?

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cafe Hamra

Yet another restaurant is coming to Hamra main street..but this one looks HUGE..

Cafe Hamra it’s called – although, in my opinion, the place is too big to call a cafe..but anyhow..Anyone know anything about it?

Cafe Hamra

cafe Hamra

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Hamra Street festival..Day 2

*I’ll keep this one short and sweet, seeing that a lot of other bloggers have already written about the Hamra Street Festival..

On Saturday I made my way back to the festival at around 5:00pm, eager to see what vendors would be there.  I mistakenly assumed that the Festival was only going to be a showcase of local bands, and that the vendors would be few in number..when in fact, it was quite the opposite!  The streets were lined with vendors as far as the eye could see..

Needless to say, I must have walked up and down Hamra street five times..determined to find gifts for my friends and family back home (and maybe one or two things for myself!)  Yesssssssssss, I’m one of those shoppers who has to see EVERYTHING before I make a purchase..you know, in case I see something better and I’ve already spent all of my money on something else!  There is no returning items at festivals, now is there. ;)

My friends quickly tired of following me around and broke away to do their own thing – eat.  Who has time to EAT?!?  I have shopping to do! “ I thought to myself. “It’s ok, it’s all good,,I like shopping alone anyway..” and with that, I went right back to it.  And I’m glad I did.  I found everything I was looking for.  Gifts for Mom, Dad, the brother and sister (she was the hardest!), the grandparents, the best friends, and a little something for myself..it was GREAT!

Below are some photos from Saturday:

I was with a couple from Canada, who had never had Malak al Towouk before..I suggested they tried it.  They were hooked with their first bite!

Hamra Street Festival

Malak al Tawouk

In addition to food vendors like the above, you also had your more traditional food vendors selling roasted corn, and this bean concoction..(I’m not exactly sure what it’s called..)

Hamra Street Festival

Food vendor at the Hamra Festival

There were a lot of things that I wanted to buy and take home to my family..paintings, furniture, giant photographs on canvas..but I knew they would be impossible to transport..

Hamra street festival

Paintings at the festival..

There was a lot of hype around the “Tree Shirts” stand, as well as “Cocoa” sweets stand..two of the more popular vendors during the festival..

Hamra Street Festival

Tree Shirt booth..

Hamra Street Festival

yummy yummy for my tummy!

Watching these men walk by, with a swarm of balloons overhead, put a smile to my face..

Hamra Street Festival

balloons anyone?

But as we all know, going to festival isn’t only about shopping, listening to music, or eating..but about people watching too!   These men had the best seats in the house, or in this case,,the festival.

Hamra Street Festival

Had to snap a photo of these guys..I think they are permanent fixtures at Costa in Hamra..

I hope to see you next year Hamra Street Festival!

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More photos from the Maraya 2010 Hamra Streets Inaguration and Parade!

So..these photos put mine to shame!  But that is to be expected from the man behind The Adventures of Kibot, Ghassan Salameh..thanks for the photos dude (and I kept your captions, just like you asked me to!)

Enjoy everyone!

Maraya Hamra Street Festival..

50%

Maraya Hamra Street Festival

Anorexia

Maraya Hamra Street Festival

Yellowline

Maraya Hamra Street Festival

Leb Ghost

Maraya Hamra Street Festival

Japanese dodge

Maraya Hamra Street Festival

Beirut Guardians

Maraya Hamra Street Festival

Garden

Maraya Hamra Street Festival

Marching kids

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Maraya 2010 – Hamra Street Festival Inaguration and Parade!

Rue Hamra photo

Rue Hamra (image from festival's facebook page)

Living in Hamra has its perks.  Apart from being within walking distance to absolutely everything you need – grocery, pharmacy, tailor, carpenter, gym, shopping, pubs, and restaurants..the streets of Hamra occasionally play host to charming street festivals.

Yesteryday was the beginning of Maraya 2010 – Hamra street festival.  So..seeing that I live two minutes walk from Hamra main street, I thought it would be a great way to spend the afternoon.

Hamra streets festival

Maraya 2010 - Hamra streets festival

According to the festival organizers,

“Hamra Streets Festival – Maraya 2010, from September 10 to 12, 2009 is under the patronage of HE Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Hamra Street will be closed to cars from Friday afternoon till Sunday at Midnight. (when will they learn that Hamra is so much nicer as a pedestrian street!  One of the things I enjoy most about these festivals is being able to roam the streets without having to worry about getting knocked down by a taxi or teenager in his 350Z!)

It is a convivial and cultural festival, it’s aim is to exhibit the cultural and artistic diversity of Lebanon in general and Hamra Street in particular.

The festival has encompassed a vast number of activities and events that target all age groups.  Participation in the festival is flexible, and we have greatly encouraged amateur musicians , Artists and Free-lancers in all fields of the Arts..”

Sounds nice, right?  Well..I looked for the day’s program online..and yesterday was the Inaguration and Parade.  The festivities, which took place between 5:00pm – 7:45 pm (ahemm..more like 6:30 – 9:00 pm)  included:

Carnival Float (Char de Carnaval), Dancing Groups, Zaffee loubnaniyya, Harley Davidson Owners HOG, The Beirut Orchestra, University Clubs Parade, Firemen, Croix Rouge Libanaise, Fuel Tankers with donkeys (SAY WHAT?), Vegetable Chariots, Street Artists (Fire eater, stilt walker, etc…), Vintage Car etc…

So at 5:00 pm sharp, my roomate and I made our way down to Hamra main street, and decided to take a seat in the outdoor section of Napoletana.  Ideally we would have liked to sit outside of Caribou coffee, seeing that it is right on the street – but it was already full.  In retrospect, sitting behind a glass window probably wasn’t such a good idea, my photos suffered because of it..but at least I was comfortable, right?

I sat there, with my camera ready..anxious to catch the action.. when 25 horses ran by all with soldiers atop them waving Lebanese flags.  “Ok it’s starting,” I said to my roomate.

5 minutes passed by, then 10, then 15..and still NOTHING.  As was to be expected, the parade started late..But in the mean time..people began to crowd the streets, eager to get a good spot..Families, friends, lovers, and strangers..it’s always great to see everyone together like this..it also made me realize how much of a market there is for outdoor events and festivals in Lebanon..

“What’s going on, where is the parade?” I said to my friend..

And with that..a man dressed up as a giant chicken walked by..I’m assuming it had something to do with the theme of the festival itself…(which I still don’t understand btw..can someone please explain to me the chicken and the egg thing?)

Hamra streets festival

Maraya 2010 - Hamra street festival..

Who was the first to open the parade?..Well, none other than Miss Lebanon 2010, Rahaf Abdallah, of course..in all her beauty queen splendor..the hair, the makeup, the sash, the princess wave..She looked happy being driven around in an old school VW buggie..seemingly oblivious to all of the negative hype that has been circulating on the Lebanese blogosphere around her..“Haram, I hope this girl never googles her name,” I thought to myself..

Hamra streets parade

Rahaf Abdallah - Miss Lebanon 2010 opened the parade..

And then came a congregation of..I don’t know what..clowns?  Whatever they were..they were having a great time..and succeeded in getting the crowd around them all hyped up..

Hamra streets parade

Clowns clowning around..

After the clowns, came the..umm..uhhh..fuel tank and donkey?  Yeah, can someone explain this one to me?  My friend and I didn’t really know what to make of it, especially since the donkey (which looked more like a small horse) looked as if it was about to buckle under the pressure of the tanker..poor thing..I think something was wrong with its hoof!

Anyway, after the tanker and its donkey/mini horse, came a procession of antique VWs, and other cars..some of them even looked like go-carts and bumper cars (but on wheels)..

Hamra streets parade

Boys and their toys..although I have to comment on the one girl who passed by in her buggie..she was so cute!

Next came the MEA float..ok, so I know that we aren’t in New York City,,and I know that this ain’t exactly the Macy”s Day Parade..but was it wrong of me to expect a little bit more from MEA and their float?

Hamra Streets Parade

MEA's float..

Anyway, after the MEA float..came a couple in a horse drawn carriage wearing traditional Lebanese costume, and a troop of dancers – which I really liked..their energy, their costumes, their music..easily one of the favorites..so much so that I couldn’t snap a good photo..there were so many people crowded around them!

Hamra streets parade

When was the last time you went on a horse drawn carriage ride?

There was a break between the Lebanese dancers and what I considered the MAIN EVENT..so, I took this crowd shot:

Hamra streets festival

Crowd shot!

And then came..THE MAIIIIIIIIIN EVENT!

At first, you couldn’t see them..but you sure could hear them..the Harley Davidsons!!

As they approached where I was sitting, the revvvvvving from their engines got increasing louder,,the buildings in Hamra trapping in the beautiful sounds..the vibrations flooded my ears, my head, my chest..my adrenaline began to pump..

“I can only imagine what it feels like to ride one of those babies!  What a rush!” I thought to myself..at which point, both me and my roommate turned to each other and mouthed the word, “WOW!”

Hamra streets festival

Harley owners,,and their biker chicks..

Hamra streets festival

oooooooh aaaaaaahhh..WOW.

After the Harleys..came a capoiera troop, the AUB music club, the Lebanese girls/boy scouts.. and a Japanese inspired float – titled Japanese journey of creation – which one first place for best float and best parading group!  The float was a joint collaboration between students from 10 different universities who all share a passion and a love of Japanese culture..congrats guys!  Check out their facebook page by clicking here!

Hamra Street Festival

Japanese float - Hamra street festival..LOVING the hair!

photo credit

Hamra Street Festival

Japanese Journey of Creation at the Hamra Street Festival

photo taken from group’s facebook page.

After the parade was over, my roommate and I settled our bill and made our way from Napoletana onto the streets, where we blended into the crowd and took a stroll up and down Hamra main street.  At around 8:30 a beautiful fireworks show lit up the night sky..the perfect way to end the first day of the Maraya 2010 Hamra street festival..

All in all, I think the inaguration and the parade was a smashing success.  And one thing is for sure..

Hamra streets festival

We all LOVE Hamra.

I can’t wait to see what the weekend has in store! :)

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