BEIRUT: With the start of Ramadan on the horizon, many begin to mentally prepare for the approaching month of fasting as they switch their focus to spirituality and family gatherings. Yet, this final weekend ahead of the sacred month may be the last chance to partake in a few small indulgences before fasting commences.
This midmorning – or midday, depending on your penchant to sleep in on the weekend – pastime will soon fall during fasting hours, so spend this Saturday or Sunday having a final brunch with friends. Eggs benedict, omelets and pancakes are usually only offered for a few hours during the day on weekends by many establishments.
For a delicious and indulgent brunch, check out Ginette, located on Gouraud Street in Gemmayzeh, which offers a special brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays. Or go for the Sunday brunch at Casablanca in Ain al-Mreisseh and enjoy made-to-order omelets with a stunning view of the Mediterranean Sea.
A day at the beach
Nothing can inspire thirst quite like a swim in the salty sea and hours of tanning and sunbathing at the beach. If you’re not sure you’ll be able to resist the desire to slake your thirst during hours spent by the sea, why not make a trip this weekend ahead of the fast? Drink smoothies and refreshing ice-cold water all day on your beach lounger while working on a tan to last out the month.
Lunch and wine tasting
Those who do partake in drinking alcohol throughout the year aside from Ramadan – or just enjoy accompanying friends on trips to Lebanon’s beautiful vineyards – may choose to spend the weekend at one of the country’s numerous wineries.
At Massaya’s Tanaïl Property, located just outside Chtaura, sample the wines and then sit down at the winery’s restaurant, Le Relais, for their special weekend (until July 15) “Buffet Campagnard,” an offering of mezze, barbecue and desserts, as well as Massaya wines or arak.
Le Relais sits in the middle of the the estate’s rustic vineyard and is surrounded by grapevines and lavender trees. Women from local villages help prepare the quintessential Bekaa dishes and other Lebanese favorites.
Sweat it out
Exercise is yet another daytime activity affected by fasting, as it’s not easy to adjust your schedule to fit a daily run or walk into the predawn hours when you can properly rehydrate yourself. This weekend, run or power walk along the Corniche in the morning to enjoy the view and maintain fitness.
If you’re not a keen exerciser, take the last daytime opportunity for nargileh and people-watching before sunset. However, incorporating some kind of workout might be a good measure ahead of the month’s lavish iftars.
The caffeine fix
Many of us are accustomed to periodic caffeine pick-me-ups to get through our daily work or schedule. If you haven’t already started weaning yourself off espresso in preparation for fasting, spend one afternoon this weekend enjoying a leisurely chat over coffee with friends. Half the pleasure in a coffee break is the company, so get a group together to sit and catch up over lattes, cappuccinos or the perfect summertime iced coffee until you get the caffeine jitters.
The weather will only heat up as summer progresses, so tackle the Lebanon Mountain Trail this weekend before it’s too hot come mid-August. Stretching from Al-Qbaiyat in the north to Marjayoun in south Lebanon, the trail has numerous sections that are perfect for a day or weekend of hiking with friends or family.
The path covers 440 kilometers in total, passing though more than 75 villages and offering sweeping vistas from altitudes reaching up to 2,000 meters above sea level. You can research your route and get all the information necessary – maps, guides, hotels and more – from the LMT website (www.lebanontrail.org/home.jhtm).
New hikes include the Baskinta Literary Trail, where hikers can visit up to 22 literary landmarks related to the likes of Amin Maalouf, Mikhail Naimy, Rachid Ayoub and Georges Ghanem. Neophytes need not fear: There is something for every outdoors type, whether you’re a mountaineering expert or it’s the first time you’ve ever strapped on a pair of hiking boots.
Held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Beirut Souks, Souk el-Tayeb is an open-air market of delectable produce and goodies. As it can be difficult to refrain from sampling the delicious offerings while visiting this market, go this weekend and taste everything under the sun.
While Souk el-Tayeb is a great place to pick up fresh, locally produced ingredients for iftar feasts during Ramadan, this weekend just go for lunch or try out the different ingredients and recipes made by the chefs and vegetable producers who flock from across the country to the weekly market.
It’s also a great place to get new ideas for recipes to impress relatives all month long.