With snow already topping Lebanon’s mountains and new winter activities and resorts ready to go, 2014/15 looks set to be an active season. It’s that time of year when weekends become a holiday escape from Beirut; when the snowcovered mountains, guesthouse retreats and indulgent meals by the log fire seem like a world away. But as we prove in this issue of Lebanon Traveler, winter in the country isn’t only snow; there’s a wealth of experiences across the country from architectural tours around Tripoli to experiencing rural landscapes by night or exploring the country’s rich forest reserves followed by an overnight stay in a local B&B.
Lebanon Traveler, as always, highlights the sustainable tourism approach, where the rural experience rules. Martine Btaich shares the potential for rural communities in an upcoming rural tourism strategy, Lebanon’s cycling enthusiasts share their passion for seeing the countryside by bike and reflect on an evolving cycling community and the Food Heritage Foundation travels the country to meet the small-scale producers continuing the seasonal ritual of making molasses.
We also highlight Lebanon’s diverse heritage and meet those fighting for its preservation, speaking to artisans who are reviving the tradition of Lebanese embroidery and backgammon players who, in the streets, keep the oldest board game in the world alive in the streets. And we tour the old stairs of Mar Mikhael and Jeitawi, with those fighting for their preservation.
Culture has a prominent presence too, from painter Issa Halloum’s deep connection to the lands of the Bekaa’s Al Ain to jewelry designer Randa Tabbah’s pieces, directly inspired by the city, along with a rich program from the Al Bustan Festival who’ve created a winter tradition of music and the arts.
Whatever your passion during the winter season, all you’ll find in this country is warmth.