The journey begins … (August 13, 2013)

Together with Bea, who does the entire design part of we-magazine, I am traveling through the Middle East for the next 3 weeks – we want to see and feel what’s going on there. All this will end up in our next issue: The Greater WE – non biased perspectives on the Middle East. We start out in Beirut and from there we’ll see where it takes us! We’ll take it one day at a step. So please stay tuned – we’ll publish our daily stories right here!

August 13, 2013

Left Dehli Airport at 4.50 am.
The plane was almost empty and I slept the entire flight through.
Arrived in Bahrain at 5.50 am local time – 50 minutes ahead of schedule and already 36 degrees Celsius!

Wasn’t allowed to get an entry visa – the immigration staff would have let me in, yet the airline, Gulf Air, denied. They argued you have to have at least 8 hours between connecting services. Mine was “only” 5 hours.
So I spent the morning at Bahrain Airport. Luckily they have a nice business lounge which you can entry if you pay a 20 USD fee – including free fast WiFi, all you can eat and drink (incl. alcohol!), but no restrooms;-(

The 5 hours went fast, I wrote a couple of emails, checked a few things about Beirut airport, my next stop. What I’ve found out while surfing the web turned out to be crucial: I wasn’t allowed to enter Lebanon with the passport I had on me. A single Israeli stamp in it equals NO ENTRY into Lebanon. I wasn’t aware of this, even worse I wasn’t even thinking about this since I’ve done this trip before and nobody took care. So I faced two options: Either the Bahraini security staff would check the visa, then I couldn’t leave or they wouldn’t. If they wouldn’t I had a fair chance to meet Bea, who was flying into Beirut from Frankfurt, at Beirut airport and she then could give me my new “clean” second passport. Luckily the two of us arrived in the same terminal and everything worked out well. I received my visa for Lebanon, the first stamp in the clean passport, without any charges.

The flight from Bahrain to Beirut was rather fun. Boarding was kind of chaotic – as if the passenger didn’t had any boarding passes. They were haggling about their seats like marketeers in the souks. Welcome to the Arab World;-) Women, men, kids – in between the flight personal trying to achieve the best for everybody. Despite the hassle the flight left on time. Right next to me 3 Syrian women were sitting. They fled Damascus four month ago and were now on their way back home. They felt quite uncomfortable and also a bit scared … but they want to know how the situation is right now.

At Beirut airport I had to wait for 3 hours for Bea. WiFi being rather cranky I decided to continue reading Uli Kienzle’s book: “Wie ich die Araber verstehen lernte” (How I learnt to understand the Arab people). What a read! From time to time I looked up and all of a sudden I found myself in the middle of an “Ukrainian girl group” – almost 20 well dressed but a bit lost Ukrainian women getting ready for their new working place Beirut. The entire male staff of Beirut airport came and walked by. I felt the right introduction to slightly decadent Beirut …

We had a lovely dinner in the evening – right at the Corniche – enjoying Lebanise white wine and various dishes.
What a start!

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