Jenny October 10, 2012

One of my favourite walks in Beirut is the one that takes you from Hamra to Ashrafieh through Sanayeh, Zarif, Zoukak el Blat, Patriarchiye and Basta. These areas are lovely: they’re residential but still busy in a very nice way. You will find many of Beirut’s remaining old houses here, hidden in between the area’s newer, tightly squeezed, residential buildings.

This is also the place for shopping: there are small shops specializing in things like olives, nuts, coffee and cheese, and the fruit-and-veg stalls are cheaper than elsewhere in central Beirut. You will also find make-shift secondhand shops, one or two old bookshops, and the best Armenian pastries on this side of town. And when you reach Basta, you’re in antiques heaven!

When I walked through there the other day, I stopped for a minute to take pictures of this improvised installation/exhibition on a wall facing a small hardware store. The two guys who work there told me they started exhibiting things “just to entertain those passing by”, and then it grew by itself: passers-by started adding items they brought with them. “But we always tell people not to put anything valuable on the wall – that would disappear immediately,” they added.