I was invited to give a research presentation at the American University of Beirut. Unfortunately, there was a bombing from the Islamic State shortly after I landed. The day of my presentation was a national day of mourning but the finance faculty was incredibly friendly and hospitable.
Beirut felt safe to walk around on my own although there are constant reminders of the civil war. Bullet holes remain in some buildings and there was a problem with trash collection for the past few weeks. Electricity is cut off twice a day at a relatively regular schedule due to insufficient generator capacity. Syrian refugees where moving farther into the city to beg on the streets. Lebanon had allowed approximately 1 million Syrian refugees into the country despite having a population of approximately 6 million.
As a former French colony, there are wonderful French restaurants and bakeries everywhere. Cats are also everywhere which keeps the rat population in check. The Most Lebanese Taxi is famous in the city and everyone takes pictures of it wherever it goes.
The next day, I visited the city of Byblos, known as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. There are some ruins from the Romans and a crusader castle in the UNESCO World Heritage Site which is well worth the tour. The city itself is entirely modern with a thriving nightlife despite the evening power outage.