The Lebanese love babies. Everywhere we go, Isla gets smiles and pinches and kisses (and I get lots of advice). But, I am discovering that even though the people are super baby-friendly, the city of Beirut is not at all.
For one, there are no carseat laws. Most people just carry their babies on their laps – in the backseat, frontseat, driver’s seat. We don’t have a car, so if we do want to go anywhere, we take a taxi. While we have a carseat, it isn’t super portable, and even if it were, most taxis don’t have seatbelts in the back anyways.
This isn’t a super big deal, because we generally just walk wherever we want to go. Isla is usually in her sling or stroller. The stroller poses several problems. Most stores are several stories but have winding staircases and no elevator. A lot of stores won’t even let me bring the stroller in (which stinks when Isla is asleep)! I thought that grocery shopping would be a snap with the stroller… I can hang all sorts of bags on the handles, but it is such a hassle carry it down the stairs into the store, getting the baby out so I can leave the stroller with the doorman, re-loading the baby and all my groceries, and then carrying it back up the stairs… so, Isla doesn’t get to go grocery shopping very often! (Or any kind of shopping, for that matter! :))
I heard somewhere that Lebanon has the highest percentage of women smokers in the world (that statistic might be exaggerated, I don’t know, but that’s what I heard). There aren’t many non-smoking restaurants or cafes or taxis or….. which really stinks (haha). Totally unhealthy and nasty to come home with a smoky smelling baby. It’s really limited the cafes I can go to. :(
Sooo, if you are thinking of traveling to Beirut for a vacation with your infant…. my recommendation would be to wait til the baby isn’t so much a baby anymore! :)
*edit* I’ve noticed that many people have googled something to the effect of “traveling to beirut with baby” and ended up on this post. Be sure to read part two of Baby friendly Beirut by clicking here.
*June 2012 edit* An updated perspective on Beirut with a baby here.