- Updated On:
- October 7, 2019
- Year Built: 1900
“Sour” in Arabic, meaning “Rock”, is an ancient Phoenician city in the South of Lebanon on the Mediterranean Sea founded around 2750 BC.
I headed south to spend there the last few days in August, parked my car near the fisherman’s harbor and had a Three-minute walk to reach the hotel.
“Asamina” is a very attractive and newly renovated boutique hotel in the “Christian” Street, with a direct access to the shore. My stay there was comfortable indeed; but it is worth noting that the breakfast could have been better.
In this three-day itinerary for Tyre I will try to show you the main sights while tasting some of the best local flavours.
I dropped my bag in the hotel and headed straight to “Al Jamal” beach. I was craving for some Fattouch, batata harra, hummus and fried fish. I found them all at Captain Bob’s restaurant, offering delicious food and awesome view, with remarkable cleanliness. Swimming with sea turtles has always been one of my dreams. Locals told me that they usually spot 2 turtles swimming between the rocks. I tried several sites that afternoon with no luck.
I ended my day in El Fanar restaurant while enjoying a breathtaking sunset in a great atmosphere. Joseph, the manager, was very welcoming. He was lovingly going from one table to another while everybody was entertained by the live band till late that night.
The next day I woke up a bit late, had my coffee under the shades, with the sound of the waves hitting the rocks beneath my feet. I was in a mood for some street photography and wanted to mingle with the locals and hear their stories.
Just around the corner, there was that splendid three stories traditional Lebanese house. The main entrance was wide open and I thought it was a hotel or a guesthouse. The second I walked in, I felt the positive vibes of the place and a man welcomed me with a big smile. His name is Georges Nour and he is the owner of this magnificent place called “La Pidraya” (named after “Pidraya” the daughter of a Greek king of Tyre) or “Beit Nour”. They did a great job in renovating the place with all the details, and I could clearly see the effort they have put to bring it back as it was before. I stayed there for a while enjoying his stories about the city and the house, but after a bit less than two hours it was time for me to leave, wishing I could stay more.
He recommended Mahfouz snack in the old Souk and it was way more delicious than expected with its “Fateyil” sandwiches.
After a long walk in the “Souks” and the narrow streets of this old city, it was time to visit Tyre’s Necropolis and Hippodrome. The “Al-Bass” is a Lebanese UNESCO World Heritage site. The Necropolis constituted the principle entrance of the city in Roman and Byzantine time. The main features are an impressive triumphal arch, the necropolis consisting of hundreds of stone and marble sarcophagi and a second century Hippodrome. Be ready for some long walks where you will need, other than your camera, water, good walking shoes and a hat.
I couldn’t leave this wonderful but underestimated city without having my dinner at “Le Phenicien” for any reason. Along with some shrimps, calamari, octopus and batrakh as starters, tasting its famous Paella with a bottle of El Ixsir white wine 2017 was a must.
As for the night, “Tavolino” was no doubt the best choice. The pub is relatively small, fitting forty to fifty people, and the old stone arched ceiling gives it a unique charm. I sat on the bar while Raed, the barman, served the best Gin – basil drinks I have ever had. The music was simply awesome and the least I can say is that it was a night to remember.
I planned to have breakfast at dawn in the famous “Foowel” Baroud, having foul, hummus and fatteh with a hot cup of tea, while the first sunrays hit the top of the churches’ bells and mosques.
I checked out of the hotel earlier than usual and headed to “Al-Khiyam” beach. I needed to lay down on the hammock, soak up the sun, relax and have couple of freezing cold beers in “Cloud Number 59”. It was almost empty and as you may know, I always like to travel off-season or go out on road trips or hiking during weekdays to avoid the crowds and tourists groups.
Before leaving, I felt the need to have one last walk on the sand further to the south and, to my surprise, I saw a turtle head coming out of the water to breath. I couldn’t believe my eyes and in one second I was in the water trying to film it. Loggerhead sea turtles reproduce every year during the summer season from May to September on the Nature Reserve Beach. Believe me, it is a must live experience. More awareness should be created around this and people should know their importance in order to preserve such richness. It was quick and it disappeared instantly like it showed up but it was worth every second I was in the water with this beautiful, calm and peaceful creature.
I left with a memory card full of pictures, drained camera batteries and weary legs but I was feeling so happy.
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Simple, efficient and mostly wonderful description of the city and all it has to offer in every single detail, particularly the dishes mentioned of the Lebanese cuisine that I endear! My rating is 10/10. Also paella caught my eye as well which is one of my favourite dishes, and I would love to taste it in Lebanon some day just the way I do in Spain.
magnificent and vivid reflection of places and experience ; in addition to the mouth -watering description of food
really happy to read your kind review Lina. hope you will enjoy Tyre as I did soon 🙂