The title of this article stems from an inside joke from our recently concluded #nomadsinbey trip! Hashtag “If you know you know”! If you follow us on instagram (which you should btw), you’ll see highlights from our amazing trip to Lebanon.
Warning: it will make you jealous or perhaps book the next available flight to Bey!
“Lebanon has now been added to my bucket list. Thanks to you”- @adventuresofanaijamom.
If we are being honest, our expectation of Lebanon was subpar. Blame it on the sheer amount of Lebanese people in Nigeria. The Lebanese community in Nigeria is massive and it keeps you wondering; if your country is/was that great why are all of you here? This is such a poor mentality and Lebanon proved us all wrong.
We were expecting a great night out, which happened. Nice beaches…check. Good food…check. However, nothing prepared us for an explosive night, amazing cuisine, one of the best trails we’ve ever hiked and a remarkable night in a picturesque village overlooking the Chouf district.
But as you know, with all curated experiences nothing is ever hitch free. We had our sheer amount of issues and non-issues, which is what this post is about. Enjoy our lessons learnt from this trip and hopefully you learn a thing or two too!
$2,000 IS A PREREQUISITE FOR ENTRY
If you do not want any stress or give 5,000 reasons why cashless is the way to go, please have $2,000 with you in cash. After our episode with Nigerian immigration during #nomadsinmorocco, we concluded that leaving Nigeria as a group was a bad idea. We agreed that everyone goes through security individually and we converge as a group when we reach our destination. Nigerian immigration just really stresses you out. Yes the $2,000 is a prerequisite to entry but if you are traveling as a tour group, once you show your hotel reservations, booked tours and experiences, you will waive such requirements.
We were torn between letting them know we were a tour group and going in as individuals. Our Morocco experience flashed before our eyes and we decided on going in as individuals. Some of us went through easily, while for others they asked why they were going to Lebanon in the most condescending manner, insisted on seeing their hotel reservation on paper, $2,000 in cash and a physical copy of their return tickets. The little drama that unfolded really isn’t worth documenting and at the end of the day we were out of their way in less than 10 minutes. We gleefully boarded our flight and could not wait to touch down Bey!
Rumor has it that the security at the Beirut airport is difficult. Well, we are here to tell you those rumors are all lies. The officials at Beirut were so kind to us; they asked us a few questions, which we had all the answers to. We gassed them up a bit and told them how fascinated we all were about their country. Heard so much about the nightlife and couldn’t wait to explore it all.
They checked out our itinerary and were super impressed by the amount of work we put in. In a couple of minutes, they stamped our passports with single entry visas, which cost us $20 each.
NOMAD TIP: You can definitely wiggle your way around the $2,000 but to avoid being held up please have that in cash with you. They do not ask to see it; they just ask if you have it on the Nigerian side. On the Lebanese side, they might ask to see it but if you are good with words just let them know how amazing their country is, let them know you have booked and paid for your accommodation as well as tours (have evidence of payment with you) and you are likely to get in.
PEBBLE BEACHES ARE CANCELLED
If we had prior knowledge that white beach in Batroun was a pebble beach, we probably wouldn’t have gone there.
For pebble beaches, you are better off sun bathing or just sitting on a beach chair (with an umbrella) than walking around the beach. We tried walking around the beach with no shoes and it was a disaster. We also had two incidents of bruises from slipping and falling from rocks. Thankfully none of it was fatal.
NOMAD TIP: There are tons of regular sand beach options in Lebanon and pebble beaches should be the last resort. The vibe at the White beach was chill, no doubt. It had a lot instagrammable spots. They had really cute swings, a sitting area shaped like a wooden boat and gorgeous rocks we could not get enough of.
But it was frustrating getting around. If we had prior knowledge it was a pebble beach, we would have gotten rubber shoes for all the Nomads that were interested in taking leisurely strolls across the beach.
TIME MANAGEMENT IS KEY
We are still trying to figure out the best possible way to manage time on our group trips. We understand it’s a Nigerian thing to be late but we need to be considerate. So much work goes into planning and putting together the itinerary and there’s a reason why time slots are allocated for everything. Our Itineraries may tend to change and when things change we try to inform everyone before the scheduled time.
One day, we kept the driver and the guide waiting for over an hour. If we are being honest, it was not a good look at all.
NOMAD TIP: The only way to resolve this time management issue is stating it clear in our terms and conditions, there will be no grace period and Nomads who aren’t ready at the stated time will join the rest of the group wherever they are. Another thing is to make the group smaller, a maximum of 15.
Smaller groups are way easier to manage. If you plan group trips or even plan events, how do you manage timing issues? If you have any tips, please share so we can all learn!
SPLITTING BILLS IS A NO-NO!
This was actually a hilarious one. It’s super easy to split bills on a holiday…with close friends and family. It’s not as easy on a curated group trip with strangers who may or may not become friends. We spent hours settling our bills and arguing whether to split the bill equally or everyone pays for his/her own meal.
It’s funny how we’ve never had this problem during any of our past trips. Everyone just paid for what they ate and kept it moving. One thing that was different though, we never sat on one long table. We always sat in smaller clusters.
NOMAD TIP: Sitting in smaller clusters as opposed to one big massive table helps with getting the bill out of the way quicker. We all sat together and the cashiers found it difficult printing out 20 individual bills. It would have been faster to settle our bills if we spread across 4 tables.
STAYING IN THE SAME ACCOMMODATION IS A YES YES
So 20 of us were spread across four different apartments, two in each building, it was a logistical nightmare! The buildings were a 5-minute walk from each other but we still had coordination issues. Yes we had two curators from the Naija Nomads team; one in each apartment building but it was still a hassle getting everyone together at the same time.
Taking orders for breakfast took hours and sometimes we had to skip breakfast and grab something on the way. If we were in the same space, it would have been easy to knock on doors every morning to wake everyone up or get breakfast orders.
NOMAD TIP: It’s 100 times easier if everyone is in the same building, without a doubt. Even if you have five members of your team on a trip, ensure everyone stays in the same building!
So there you have it, lessons learnt from our recently concluded trip to Lebanon. Our daily chronicles will be on Bella Naija this week and there you’ll get more details about the trip.
Beirut is an unusual destination for the Nigerian traveler but we urge you to give it a shot. You will come back with tales for dayssssssss and memories for life!