Things to know when traveling around Lebanon 🇱🇧:
1. Some public restrooms don’t have toilet 🚽 paper, so make sure to keep a small pack in your purse 👛 or bag 💼!
2. Lebanon does not currently have an organized train 🚊 or bus 🚌system, so be prepared to get creative if you want to travel cheap or save up if you want to ride taxis; although, I’ve heard Uber is slightly cheaper than the local taxis 🚕 here. Lebanon has vans that serve as both public buses that go around various routes within a city 🌃 and coach buses that take you to other cities/towns. The price is reasonable, but it is not wheelchair accessible. If the drivers are nice, they will insist that you don’t have to pay. Although, I’ve recently encountered more drivers that ask me to pay two or three times more than everyone else depending on how many seats me and my wheelchair take up.
3. These van buses are noisy, over-utilized, and, often times, need repairing. However, they are a cheap means of transportation to travel around and I’ve generally felt safe in them.
4. Curb-cuts are often blocked by parked cars 🚘 or other modes of transportation. And these curb-cuts are often not built to standard. The surfaces are not cut even and there’s often a huge drop when going down curb-cuts and a huge hump going up curb-cuts. The slope is an issue as well in that it is too steep.
5. Most people are very kind and helpful, but you will encounter taxis/buses driving away when they see your wheelchair, especially if you are traveling solo 😩 like what I usually do.
6. Some people speak really great English, but the majority do not. The majority will know very elementary level conversation phrases or just a few common words here and there.
7. The signs (road signs, street signs, store signs, etc.) around this country are usually written in English and Arabic, and sometimes French.
8. My favorite attractions in Lebanon: Baalbek, Tyr, Raouche, and my favorite hostel so far, Hamra Urban Garden. The rooms are clean, there’s a rooftop pool, a gym, a bar and free breakfast 🥞 all for just $19!!
9. Most of the attractions are outside of the city of Beirut. They are between twenty minutes to three hours outside of Beirut, but it is really cheap to travel there on the mini-van buses.
10. Multinational companies, even from the US, do not follow US laws when making a store/restaurant accessible to wheelchair users. Nike may be supporting Kaepernick and trying to show all lives matter, but apparently the rights of individuals with disabilities do not matter. I was really excited when I saw, unlike all the other stores in Hamra Street, Nike had a fit to standard ramp in front of their store! I really like Nike and purchase many of their products. But I was deeply and very personally hurt when I saw that as soon as I wheeled inside the store, there were steps before I could reach their merchandise. Just do it! Walk the talk. If you really believe all lives matter then make your stores both nationally and internationally fit to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Social justice is not and should not be a marketing ploy. If your goal is to maximize profit, then don’t play the role of a Saint who cares so much about social justice and human rights. McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza 🍕 Hut, Starbucks and many more USA 🇺🇸 multinational organizations are also extremely inadequate when it comes to providing individuals with disabilities equal access to their services and goods. JUST DO IT...already!!! ☑️