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Foreigners' Experience in Achrafieh

“Never judge a book by its cover,” they say. Well, I can concur with this statement.

Achrafieh is a book with an average cover. On the main roads, you see the commercial side of it. Modern buildings, major coffee shops, like Starbucks, as well as fast food places and small shops lining the streets.

My first impression: Ok, so just another neighborhood with residential buildings and stores. Boy, was I ever wrong. When I was asked to write an article for Live Achrafieh, I was excited to be asked to go explore the area, take pictures and see what I found during my adventure. What I found was more than I had ever expected.

Then I wondered. What is the difference between what locals see and what foreigners see? Are their views different?

As a foreigner to the neighborhood myself, I found people to be very friendly, open and accepting. I immediately felt at home and comforted, walking around, taking pictures and admiring the beauty of the combination of old and new.

“Achrafieh is a nice little haven within Beirut. It could seem small at times, not a huge area, but at the same time there’s a lot to do, and you can find your favorite spots and have fun with the nightlife and great variety of restaurants,” says Cameron Anderson, 27, who hails from San Francisco and works in Achrafieh.

Unique boutiques like Rue 181 and Over the Rainbow are just two of the many designer shops hidden around the small and narrow streets of Achrafieh; each with one-of-a-kind designs by various Lebanese artists or imported items from around the globe, especially the United States and Europe. These shops are hidden in alleys or in back roads, so to get to them you have to do some exploring.

Mar Mikhael, another area in Achrafieh has more of an artistic scene, with music blasting out of the bars and the pubs, live music from local bands and art shows in the area. It’s a massive walking area. You can spend 8 hours going through the whole of Achrafieh, as all the areas are all connected and pretty close to each other. You can spend a whole day moving around the area.

So what are you waiting for? Go explore and find your own treasures and make your own memories.

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