What London Gave Me!

Leaving my family for the second time in my 13 years of marriage has added a new learning experience, a unique inner growth, and further maturity as a mom of five. Being the realistic person that I am, who refuses to subside to weakness, I kept myself and my mind busy in order to have my emotions well maintained. The fact that I terribly missed each and every one of them made me overcome and control my sentiments, especially because they are well taken care of by their super dad and their amazing granny. I always tell those who wonder how I manage my family, home, blog, and work that I have a distinctive support system whose presence in my life is a great relief. Furthermore, when a person knows how to enjoy the present moment, she/he will be able to flourish in any given action. So my personal solo mission trip to London can be summarized in a few points below:

Culture:
I won’t be talking about the endless places a person can visit, or what I mainly did. Instead, I will share a brief overview about the richness and exceptional learning experiences this country offers. Like most, if not all European countries, England carries along its historical tides thousands of writers, poets, royal history, and antiquity. 

Of the many places I went to, I mainly loved visiting The Shakespearean Globe and Covent Garden. Those are places that took me back in time to an era I adore. It was more like a real fairy tale lived once upon a time, as I was strolling down the old brick roads where My Fair Lady was filmed back in 1963.
Other day to day experiences added to the affluence of this city, were simple incidents which had boundless effect on me; I saw a little 6 year old boy riding his own bike on the road along with his mum. I could not but admire the way children are raised and the nourishing lifestyle they adopt. Unconsciously this little buddy is learning to become healthy and respectful with a high self-esteem.  The fact that he can cycle to different places on the roads, boosts his self-confidence and directs him into being a responsible young man in the coming years.

That is one of many parenting methods followed in first world countries since the system by itself supports and aids in a child’s growth and well-being.

Another remarkable fact is seeing business men, in sportswear, jogging around during their lunch break right next to their offices. In fact, many firms in Europe provide their employees with a gym and other sports facilities where stress is released. Thus fostering more focused, efficient, and content personnel.

The Tube:

Ever since I left Paris, I have always enjoyed commuting via the metro – or the ‘tube’ as it is known in London. It is the only place where a person witnesses the actual daily life of people with various backgrounds. From those heading to work, others to lunch, a mom with three or more children coming from a birthday, tourists, business men and women, to those moving furniture. It is incredibly amazing! Educational signs and advertisements indicating proper behavior are found in almost every corner in stations. That is how new generations learn about respecting people’s space and privacy even if the ‘tube’ is jammed! As a matter of fact they acquire tolerance, patience, and acceptance of others.

One of the incidents that stood out on the tube reiterates the attention and thoughtfulness of strangers towards pregnant women, the elderly, disabled or less able to stand individuals and young children, who out of respect give their seats and stand aside as we move from one station to the other!
What adds to the beauty of this underground world are the talented musicians, street artists, and singers whom I greatly cherish and value their work. Their struggles, dedication, and the will to live and move on in life is extremely inspiring.

Fun after Work:

It is remarkable to witness how people enjoy their time after working hours. Whether it is for a warm tasty cup of tea, or a drink with some friends, you always see busy families and individuals happily socializing after work. London is such a vibrant city at night as it is during the day, which I found to be very lively!

The Welcoming Feeling:

On the streets and in the shops, one is not judged by a social status, skin color, a nationality, a certain accent, or any other cultural differentiation. In fact, London embraces and welcomes people from all walks of life which is reflected in every corner of this glamorous city. Venders, attendants, taxi drivers – to name a few – are all friendly, helpful, supportive, and polite.

The Tough Real Life:

Being a tourist is completely different than living the everyday routine wherever you are in the world. However, despite the fact that people serve themselves, living in London reflects reality. Life is not only about happy moments, fun, and carelessness. There is more to it, and here people do learn to be responsible at an early age, giving the coming generations a wider opportunity for their future. It is not easy to carry your grocery shopping and walk home, fill your own car with gas, take the public transport, run to catch your train, and even bear the cold bitter weather almost all year round. However, such experiences, in my opinion, introduce genuineness which aids in having sturdier, mature, resilient, and well established citizens.

So what did London give me? Not the fancy clothes, the sparkling jewels, the tasty food, the endless shopping, but the rich culture, the sensible real-world life I appreciate, the dense greenery, and the knowledge one can attain in the simplest forms of exposure! But most importantly, London gave me the unique chance of becoming an aunt for the first time to my treasured niece! The infinite preciousness of motherhood is astoundingly experienced in miraculous life occurrences.

Thank you London for helping me realize that I am still that down to earth girl and to appreciate again and again the many blessings I am bestowed with.

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Tourists in Batroun

Every year and with every visit I realise how words fail to convey the magnificence of our beloved Lebanon. In our usual annual getaway that my dear husband and I pursue, this year we decided to head to Batroun and discover its exquisiteness. 

Below are a must see areas which take you back in time and transfer you into the lovely old days of Lebanon.

Beit el Batroun:
We were lavished by the warm hospitality and generous welcome of Mrs. Colette Kahil, the owner. Located on a remote hill and facing the blue azure sea, the “beit” is extravagantly furnished with a rustic Lebanese touch. 

Beautiful handmade ornaments, tables, and chairs are exquisitely set around the house. The warmth and cordiality are what make this house a home for every individual who decides to stay there.

In addition to the tasty and healthy Lebanese breakfast, Mrs. Kahil pampered us with a mouth-watering homemade fig pie.

We left feeling content, relaxed and delighted to have had such a wonderful host. Thank you my dear Colette!
Old Souks of Batroun:

Beit el Batroun is just a few minutes away from the centre of Batroun which made it easy for us to take the car and discover the area around. As we walked along the tiny alleys of the old souk, we felt as if we have travelled out of the country. 

It hurts to see such a neglected beauty go unheard of… unspoken of. However, we were lucky to have met, by coincidence, an old man as ancient as the aged houses around, who gleefully and joyfully shared a few stories from the history this village carries. He guided us into visiting The Lady of the Sea, The Phoenician Wall that divided the Mediterranean Sea from the land, and the Roman Theatre. We were mesmerized by the beauty of the mighty long-standing historic treasures this part of the world has been glorified with.

Colonel Craft Beer:

Just a few meters away from the old souk, we went to Colonel which serves a unique crafted beer to meet every person’s taste. The restaurant compliments the beer with matching fresh food and select menu of local dishes. In addition to an indoor area where visitors can watch how the fresh beer is processed, there is also a “beer garden” where people can enjoy the drinks and food outside. Not being a beer person myself, I really enjoyed my passion fruit flavoured beer as I devoured a tasty and juicy ‘halloumi’ burger!

Ixsir Winery:
Up in the mountains of Thoum, the 400 year old house which was transformed into a winery perches proudly on the top. Fields of vinery and olive trees gracefully bow under the warm blazing sun. While waiting for our wine tour to start we indulged ourselves with a delicious fresh lunch.

The variety of food offered suits every person’s taste and preferences.  I mainly enjoyed the Pizzeta Chѐvre, Moutabbal Raheb, Mattaboulé, and Poisson Braa sur Sauce Hara. As for dessert, the Glace Sahlab Halawet El Jeben melts under the tongue leaving an incredible mouth-watering sensation. Afterwards we were escorted by our friendly guide who took us into the realm of winery and production.

I highly recommend visiting it and enjoying every single moment there.
 

Biomass Farm and Tawlet:

The Biomass farm in Jberta was our last destination. I felt proud to meet people who are working hard on spreading awareness and providing the Lebanese market with healthy organic products. The cleanliness, sanitation, production, and professionalism we experienced are remarkable. Ms. Pamela was more than delighted to have us visit the poultry house where the chicken happily and freely roam around a designated field as they produce organic A class eggs.

The farm also offers The Tawlet service – from farm to table – where people can book and enjoy a healthy lunch every Saturday and Sunday. In addition to all of that, there are outdoor play areas for children and a store shop for people to buy all those fresh products.

Thank you Biomass team for giving us such an opportunity!

It is with a broken heart that I look at our lovely Lebanon, knowing of its potential, its beauty, and its uniqueness, but it is still tied up and tangled.  I do pray that one day it will be able to break those binds, free itself, and flourish again. On this note, I leave it up to you my dear readers to comment, share, or inform us about any other beautiful destination Lebanon provides.