Budapest has carefully restored it’s historical buildings, is clean, tourist friendly, well organised, pretty safe, with an antiquated but efficient and customer friendly public transportation system. Beirut is, at every level, its exact opposite. Beirut is a chaotic, noisy, polluted concrete and asphalt jungle.
Infrastructure is in total decay, household trash is piling up in the streets. Beirut is concrete lumps stacked upon concrete lumps. A total lack of respect of the Lebanese for their own history and culture that manifests itself in monuments being demolished and beautiful old houses getting ripped down. There are so little monuments that need to be seen in this city that it’s really a waste of time to plan to do so.
There is no public transportation unless you consider the dirty, rundown, unsafe and smoke belching minibuses driven by rude drivers as public transportation. Beirut's inhabitants go for hours without electricity every day, hardly any (dirty) water flows out of the tap. There are no public spaces and parks worth that name. There are horrifying levels of pollution on land, in the air and in the sea… and if any Lebanese gets behind the wheel of a car or straddles a motorbike he/she becomes a horrific bloodthirsty monster from an Alien movie. Oh and did I mention that there’s about 4 million cars in Beirut and only 13 parking spaces, all 13 of them located on the few meters of remaining sidewalks?
But then, on one of our walks in the city, dodging trash, open manholes and speeding motorbikes on the sidewalks, we stumble upon the beauty of some street art, a colourful street animation, a rare flowering tree … and we think: there’s still some life left in this horror of a city, a glimmer of hope that there might be anything else than a bleak and disastrous future for this city…or is it just the orchestra of the Titanic playing its last waltz?