Connect with us

Vacation

‘Call Me a Dreamer.’ A Shattered Beirut Neighborhood Rebuilds

Published

on

BEIRUT, Lebanon — After the August port explosion that disfigured much of Beirut, many compared the city to a phoenix that would rise again.

“We are staying,” read some signs in the famous nightlife district of Mar Mikhael, one of the worst-hit neighborhoods. Down the main thoroughfare in Gemmayzeh, another badly damaged area whose graceful old buildings housed storied families and Beirut newcomers alike, it was the same: Residents vowed to return, and banners on buildings promised to rebuild.

Two months later, some businesses have begun to reopen, and teams of volunteer engineers and architects are working to save heritage buildings. But even the bullish say they do not believe a full recovery is possible, pointing to the lack of government leadership and resources, combined with an imploding economy that has put even basic repairs beyond the wallets of many residents.

If Beirut is a phoenix, it has already endured too much, they say: civil war; war with Israel; incompetent and corrupt governments; huge protests, the coronavirus and now this.

Though they were traditionally Christian neighborhoods, Mar Mikhael, Gemmayzeh and the surrounding areas attracted young Lebanese of different religious backgrounds, as well as foreigners and tourists, to its bars, cafes and art galleries.Gay, lesbian and transgender people felt safe. Entrepreneurs and designers moved in. Dusty hardware stores sat a few doors down from trendy coffee shops.

The explosion has threatened that unique social fabric, locals say.

And not all are ready to return. It would feel like erasing what happened, a few said — like walking blithely over a grave.

At the edge of Gemmayzeh, between a church and an antique chandelier shop, a narrow street darts up the hill at odd angles. Locals call it Thieves’ Lane, from long ago, when it was a quick getaway route from the authorities.

Over the last year, antigovernment protesters dodging tear gas have often sprinted the same way and ducked into Demo, a bar with pleasantly worn wooden benches and experimental music thrumming from the D.J. booth.

Its owner, Tarek Mourad, 38, opened Demo with a partner a decade ago, and it became a Beirut classic. The bar’s glass front was smashed in the explosion, and Mr. Mourad turned to GoFundMe to replace it.

“When you spend years planting something,” he said, “and suddenly there’s something that cuts the plant down, you hope the roots are there.”

But he was not sure whether everything that made Demo what it had been would return — the small shops and bakeries nearby that gave the street life, neighbors who stopped in for coffee or a beer.

“Everyone that works at Demo, or lives around it, needs to get back and get their lives back,” he said. “But it’s not just Demo, it’s a whole neighborhood. For years, I walked through Gemmayzeh daily. Now it’s not there anymore. What form it’ll take, I don’t know.”

Fadlo Dagher’s family began building their pale-blue villa on the main street of Gemmayzeh in 1820. To him, the houses in the neighborhood — and throughout Beirut — represent the tolerant, diverse, sophisticated country Lebanon was meant to be.

“This is the image of openness,” he said, “the image of a cosmopolitan culture.”

The houses — generally wide dwellings a few stories high, with red tiled roofs and tall, street-facing triple-arched windows opening onto a central hall — began appearing in Beirut by the mid-1800s, after the city grew into a hub for trade between Damascus, Syria, and the Mediterranean.

The style blended architectural ideas from Iran, Venice and Istanbul. While the new houses’ walls were of Lebanese sandstone, their marble floors and columns were imported from Italy, roof tiles from Marseille, France, and cedar timbers from Turkey.

Despite war, neglect and a 20th-century fashion for high-rises, many of the old houses stood untouched in Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael until the explosion, which seriously damaged about 360 structures built between 1860 and 1930.

To abandon them, Mr. Dagher said, would be to jettison one of the few shared legacies of a perpetually fractured country.

“I’d like to imagine that what is happening here, this diversity, this mixed city, that it still exists, that maybe it can reflourish,” he said. “Is it mission impossible? I don’t know. But, OK, call me a dreamer. This is what I want it to be.”

Habib Abdel Massih, his wife and son were in the small corner convenience store he owns in Gemmayzeh when the neighborhood blew apart, injuring all three. He has spent his whole life in the neighborhood, watching it change from quiet residential area to cultural destination.

“Suddenly, everything changed,” he said. “Most of the people I used to know have left.”

He worried that rebuilding would prove too expensive, that neither original residents nor newcomers would come back.

A few weeks after the blast, Mr. Abdel Massih, 55, was preparing to reopen his store. A cast sheathed his foot. He was selling water and coffee, he said. Not much else.

Sursock is the name of the neighborhood up the hill from Gemmayzeh. It is also the name of the area’s main street, the museum on that street, the palace a few doors down and the family that lives in that palace. All are now damaged.

Lady Yvonne Sursock Cochrane grew up in the palace, which was built by her forebears in the mid-1800s. She spent decades protecting it — first from Lebanon’s 15-year civil war (by staying put), and then from overdevelopment (by buying up neighboring properties). She was injured in the Aug. 4 explosion as she sat on her terrace, debris falling in a neat border around her chair. She died on Aug. 31, aged 98.

Her last look at the house showed this: roof partly caved in; frescoed ceilings more holes than plaster; marble statues shattered; Ottoman-era furniture splintered; antique tapestries torn; intricately latticed windows blown in.

Her son and daughter-in-law, Roderick and Mary Cochrane, are rebuilding. They do not yet know the price, only that it will be astronomical.

“You restore things because it’s part of the history,” said Ms. Cochrane, an American. She was hospitalized after the explosion but recovered. “We take care of it for future generations.”

Mr. Cochrane added: “Mar Mikhael and Gemmayzeh should remain a place for Lebanese, for small designers, small shops, small business owners. Without these, there’d be no Beirut. We’d be a city like Dubai.”

Just off the main drag of Mar Mikhael — where the sound of laughter, clinking glasses and pounding car stereos once floated up from the pubs to the balconies nearly every night — sit Butcher’s BBQ and, nearby, a cocktail bar, Tenno. The main street is dark and quiet now; many homes remain uninhabitable.

But Tenno is open.

Bashir Wardini and his partners raised about $15,000 through GoFundMe, and in mid-September muted their doubts and reopened to host a friend’s birthday drinks. They had not been sure customers were ready to return. They were not sure they were ready, either.

“Many of us, and our customers, said, ‘No, you have to reopen, you have to move on, because the street needs to feel some kind of life again,’” Mr. Wardini said.

Tenno looks itself again, but the rest of the neighborhood feels wrong. Mr. Wardini said still he avoids going there, unless he has to.

“It takes a few drinks too many to forget the surroundings,” he said.

By: Vivian Yee
Title: ‘Call Me a Dreamer.’ A Shattered Beirut Neighborhood Rebuilds
Sourced From: www.nytimes.com/2020/10/11/world/middleeast/lebanon-beirut-explosion.html
Published Date: Sun, 11 Oct 2020 14:43:32 +0000

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Vacation

What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?

Published

on

By

People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here so check them out!

Featured image by Daniel Tanner on Airliners.net via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/ansett-airlines-inflight-bar-menu/
Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

Did you miss our previous article…
https://vistagaze.com/vacation/gift-ideas-to-buy-for-hiking-fans-on-black-friday-3/

Continue Reading

Vacation

These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?

Published

on

By

The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
Sourced From: www.nytimes.com/2020/11/18/science/shrimp-parade-thailand.html
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

Did you miss our previous article…
https://vistagaze.com/vacation/gift-ideas-to-buy-for-hiking-fans-on-black-friday-3/

Continue Reading

Vacation

Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?

Published

on

By

There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.



Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here so check them out!

Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/aer-lingus-manchester/
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

Did you miss our previous article…
https://vistagaze.com/vacation/gift-ideas-to-buy-for-hiking-fans-on-black-friday-3/

Continue Reading

Trending