The Corniche - or seaside promenade - extending from Ain El Mreisseh to Ramlet El Bayda is one of Beirut’s most recognizable landmarks. Not only is it the site where Beirut dwellers from all over Lebanon come to exercise, work, have fun, or just hang out, it is also the fastest shortcut into Lebanese culture you will ever take. Here are the regulars you will usually encounter on your morning or evening stroll:

1. The Athletes: Those are the early-risers, the exercise-fanatics, the “serious” walkers. They will usually be sporting heavy fitness artillery from Nike fluorescent trainers to mobile fitness Apps. Beware of intercepting their trajectory. Their iPods, sunglasses and occasional pets mean they cannot see, hear or smell you.

2. The Strollers: You are likely to be one of those. Although those use the same physical functions as the athletes, they tend to linger on the sea, snack on the benches or engage in a friendly chat with fellow Corniche dwellers.

3. The Fishermen: If you’re lucky, you ‘ll catch a glimpse of their face. In most cases, however, you will only be privy to their fishing rods, basket of bait and sunburnt backs. Spot them either on the rocks or beside the rails reeling their rods with the fresh catch of the day.

4. The Tanners and Swimmers: Sprawled over rocks, glistening with greasy oil, those men exhibit their flabby parts in all their wonder for all to admire. The Corniche panorama would not be complete without them. Occasionally, they take a break from tanning to partake in a friendly, pseudo-muscular game of “Palette”.

5. The Families: A big part of the Corniche experience is getting run over by a child on a bicycle, skates or miniature car. On Sundays, in particular, the Corniche will be full to the brim with families picnicking, children chasing soap bubbles and mothers watching blissfully over their loved ones.

6. The Couples: Traditionally hard to spot on the main streets of Beirut, they are in full bloom on the Corniche. Although not much PDA is visible to the naked eye, their love-struck gazing and obliviousness to their surroundings are unmistakable features of the Couples.

7. The Playboys: Freud would have a lot to say about those. I will content myself with warning you ladies of the Playboys’ seriously obnoxious, seriously harmless flirtation antics. Think ogling, whistling and singing. Nothing an iPod and shades cant fix.

8. The Vendors: Kaak, coffee, corn, beans and slices of peppered-salted lemon just for the hell of it, what would the Corniche be without its culinary ambassadors?

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Nouhad Itani on Nov 27, 2015 via web