Travel advisory for Lebanon: Warning.

Time of your life ahead.

Is it just me or does the Summer of 2015 seem different from all other summers in Lebanon? 

No, I don’t have insider information on an upcoming coup or a new political alliance... simply a feeling that this summer season is unlike any other that I have encountered in Beirut in my *many* years of growing up and living here (Did you really think I was going to tell you my age? maybe one day; until then consider me your 87-year old grandmother with a 17-year old heart).

Could it be the unusual weather for this time of year? Let me tell you, June showers in Beirut are as rare as Spix Macaws (yes, Rio) in the Amazon these days. Could it be the new melting pot of cultures? From language to food, Syrian, Iraqi and other refugees have infused new blood into our daily grind. Perhaps, it’s simply an exaggerated case of post-travel syndrome: the renewed sense of appreciation for home you feel when you’ve been away for too long. And I’ve done more than my reasonable share of travel this year. But something tells me it’s more than any of that.

Every summer, I invariably meet a few European and/or American tourists in Beirut who mention their countries had travel advisories against visiting Lebanon. They are usually posted on the embassy websites in Bold, Italic or Red. The flickering letters – just in case you miss the Bold, the Italic and the Red- are meant to emphasize the following: making unforgettable memories would be completely at your own risk. Sure travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow- mindedness as Mark Twain famously said but who needs to get rid of those? The world is a regular fluffy cushion these days (ISIS anyone?).

Keep in mind animated warnings are reserved to those countries who really really don’t want you to have fun in Beirut (perhaps for fear they would lose you to us?). Please refrain from tasting some of the best food you’ll ever have. Kindly avoid all forms of dancing all night in a city that never sleeps. For your own safety, do no engage in greeting the most welcoming trilingual people you will ever meet. And above all, abstain from relaxing activities on pristine sandy beaches.

Ok ok to be fair, we have had our share of debacles in the last couple of decades – just ask Fox News...or don’t. Seriously. Find a better source of information. Our past woes have spurred a uniquely Lebanese approach to Summer. A kind of cautious anticipation that seems to censor excessive excitement lest we jinx the fun gods. Whenever I venture that summer will be great, I am met with stolen glances, narrowed pupils and a barely-there voice that whispers: “nshallah...iza..” or god-willing...If. It’s always a big “IF”. Always a conditional promise of peace and happiness. A sense of hushed excitement that is leftover from years and years of consuming shit. Excuse my French.

Not this Summer. Not 2015. By an inexplicable stroke of magic, the taboo seems to have been lifted. The Lebanese have lost their peace virginity and they are flaunting it. Billboards are struggling to keep up with rolling events, airports and flights are full to the brim, and Facebook feeds are competing for bragging rights. From Arts to Sports to Music festivals and restaurant openings, you will be at a loss for how to spend your time in Lebanon.

Even the notoriously noisy Beirut cars seemed to have gone silent this season...ok maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part or maybe it’s the wine I’m currently sipping but still... there is an undeniable vibrant energy and fearless disposition all around. So what are you waiting for? Book your ticket right away (refer to detailed description of full flights above) and do not miss your chance to discover the magic that is Lebanon. And that is a travel advisory you should heed.

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