Ain el Mreisseh is an area closest to the lighthouse, set on Beirut’s 5km-long Corniche. The Corniche starts in the historic Saint George Bay in the city’s downtown and ends after the public beach, Ramlet el Bayda. Ain el Mreisseh is my favourite stretch: it’s the prettiest, in my opinion, as you’re closest to the sea, and there are some interesting landmarks nearby such as La Maison Rose, a beautiful pink house built in 1882, and the old-fashioned black and white lighthouse.
Ain el Mreisseh is nicest on a windy day when you’ll see the waves hitting the rocks and almost ploughing into the shack of the café right by the modern lighthouse. I like to cross the street to stop at one of the many small cafes, like Uncle Deek. They don’t look like much, but here you can buy a traditional sahlab drink – a sweet concoction made from a flower extract.
I like this spot because it feels like something of a leveller in a classist and divided society. You see and meet people from all walks of life here, be it Syrian refugees enjoying one of Beirut’s few free public spaces; Beiruti fishermen; glamourous Lebanese women speed walking in designer jogging gear and chatting loudly on their phones; to people sunbathing, smoking shisha and playing music on the shores.