Nastya: I think a compliment is due.
Anton: Yeah, you look terrific today! You always look great, especially today! Hello friends!
This is Heads and Tails Reloaded and our travels brought us to Beirut – a capital of Lebanon.
Nastya: As they say here, bienvenue, au revoir!
Anton: Did you also read that this used to be a French colony and that they adapted French language and culture? This is a very secular city. Right?
Nastya: I just heard this from a customs officer and wanted to show off a bit.
Anton: You just killed a lone ray of hope in my heart.
Nastya: Quit it. Could you toss a coin already?
Anton: Fine. Heads.
Anton: Watch how pretentiously I will say this. Hello Lebanon!
Well, what is the fate’s outcome?
Nastya: Dear God! I feel so great right now Anton! Reloading is getting under way and it will be rich!
Anton: A life of a bum. Survive in any way you can with no money.
Seems like Beirut is a city located in the center of the world.
It has an even mixture of eastern and western cultures, which harmoniously complete one another.
Beirut is the capital of Lebanon. The only country in the Middle East where girls can show their legs on the street.
Young adults party in nightclubs. Millionaires seemingly never leave casinos.
Let us check out this amazing country and see what had changed in six years!
My ride in Beirut will be as black as charcoal in a hookah and just as hot!
Can you hear it? Here it is!
Give ‘em all you got Charcoal!
Dear tourists allow me to list Lebanon’s pros and cons. Pros – they accept U.S. dollars for payment and use one fixed rate.
I find it hard to believe. Let us try the local transport. Here’s a tip on how to save money.
Leave the airport and try to catch a so-called service taxi. Let me fish one out.
A personal cab – brand new car with A/C that only you ride in. The price is $20.
The other kind is public taxi. Usually these old clunkers work as route taxis and pick up other passengers, but the cost is 20 times cheaper – just one dollar!
What did just happen?
This is the first time this had happened to me during Heads and Tails. He pulled over, looked me up and down and took off.
A thousand units of local currency cost less than a dollar.
They provide fine conditions for your grand.
Notice the interior of this van, a stylish plastic roof, but that is not all! Check out the coolest feature! We ride with wind in our hair!
The richer you are in Beirut the faster you are. The faster you are the richer you become!
The speed is the passion of the Lebanese rich. They could care less about how prestigious a car is.
All they care about is the top speed. It is not out of the ordinary for the local rich to drive 200 kms/hr and use the city as their personal racetrack.
They see other cars as immobilized objects they have to pass by. It feels as if there are no traffic rules in Beirut.
People drive however they want, especially sports cars. They cut each other off and race.
Therefore, for my safety I hired a professional racer instead of a regular driver.
What do you say Christian, perhaps you and I should drift today?
I love it!
Public taxi took be to Beirut’s center in 30 minutes.
All I have is this $100. Can you give me change? No, only dollars.
I do not understand your language. Here is a $100.
Driver: Where you go?
Anton: I am riding with him.
Anton: I am riding with him.
To Beirut with him. He is my driver. You’re not my driver. I only speak to him. We made a deal for a dollar already.
Now they will argue over a passenger.
Let us go.
I do not know why the other dude was trying to lure me into his car.
Listen I will give you $100 and you will give me a change.
I read a bunch of blogs about traveling to Beirut before coming here.
Dear bloggers accept the kindest regards on behalf of these cab drivers and myself!
Make sure you exchange dollars for Lebanese pounds before leaving airport.
I’ll be damn. Bank? Bank?
Driver: The bank is closed.
Anton: It is closed. You know Russian.
Driver: A little bit.
Anton: The bank is closed today. Oh, wow!
He took my $100 and took off. This is kinda spooky, because he took off with my entire budget for two days.
Oh, there we go! Okay? Guys that was incredible! I played no part in the exchange whatsoever.
The man just took my $100 and came back with change.
Thank you my friend! Thank you! Take care!
My limo for today!
I have no idea where Anton found war-torn devastation and misery six years ago.
That place has nothing in common with the city that I came to. Just look!
I did not expect this city to be so splendid and rich. I think I will fit in perfectly here.
As I am walking around, I find it hard to believe that the city was in ruins in the 1990’s.
You can see some scars here and there, but they are healing. Beirut is unrecognizable today.
Beirut is a city where you can feel the magic of the Middle East on every corner.
It reeks from every stone on the street, every tortilla, a window of every house.
There is magic in every sound
and in every glance.
Yet it does not feel entirely like the east. As if Beirut was blended in with Europe.
See for yourselves, some places look like Paris.
Others remind Madrid or Seville.
Architecture enthusiasts will love Beirut for sure.
Take it to the bank, because I love it and I am an architecture geek for sure.
Muslims and Christians from different confessions mixed over 3,000 years.
There is a mosque, Catholic church, Roman ruins and an Orthodox temple on one tiny strip of land.
Nowhere in the world would you be able to see anything this unique.
Thousands of years taught people to tolerate and respect each other’s way of life.
Now Lebanon is the only Arab country where citizens are allowed to wear shorts, drink alcohol and gamble.
You will see everything yourself soon!
Beirut is a rich city that offers a great variety of luxurious hotels to its guests.
So awesome that a rich tourist does not have to worry over a place to stay in this town.
I set my sights on a suite in Phoenicia Intercontinental Hotel.
Whoa! That is more like an enormous deluxe apartment than a hotel suite. Not bad. Not bad.
I really like this! What a startling color!
This is my dream closet. I would have the same table here next to the mirror and my entire wardrobe there.
My dream came true for one weekend.
Wow! Another bedroom! Incredible! Unbelievable!
Are you ready? I can’t hear you. Are you ready? Follow me.
This is so tight! Forget the bedrooms! I will just live here! 100%! The mirror is gigantic!
Dear God, another closet! A sauna, shower and this gorgeous white Jacuzzi!
Let us not forget that the view is a cherry on a sundae of any hotel suite.
Let us proceed to the terrace and eat that cherry.
I definitely liked that introduction!
That was awkward! I am shocked.
I totally expected Arabic interior design, eastern motives, but the suite is very European,sweet and pretty!
I am shocked to the core! Awesome! I feel like rolling around. I can afford that! Go away. I am resting.
There are places in Beirut where you will not find any tourists, but if I do not go, the Beirut puzzle would not be complete.
After walking for twenty minutes from the spiffy center, I found myself in what looked like an exclusion zone.
There are no expensive cars here. No hotels or boutiques.
Tons of wires and garbage. This reminds me of Mumbai or Kathmandu, but we are still in Beirut.
Dirty rags instead of window shutters. The roofs are filled with piles of spare scooter parts.
There is a trash dump on each corner.
People live in catacombs that are more reminiscent of a rat labyrinth than a housing suitable for humans.
Everything that you see is a Palestinian refugee camp. This asylum became a part of the city in 1948, but its inhabitants never became a part of society.
There are 7,000 refugees currently living in this camp.
They have neither I.D.s nor any rights, besides a permission to live here.
None of these people can hold a position of a lawyer, a doctor or a banker.
Only a custodian, a driver or a Chinese junk vendor on the street.
Vendor: One dollar! One dollar!
Anton: Honestly, I cannot believe that I am still in Beirut.
Not much to spend the money on in Beirut during the day, because most of the fun things for rich people to do take place in the afterhours.
Beirut is a center of nightlife in the Middle East. Rich people from neighboring Arab countries come here because of the more lenient laws.
They party in nightclubs and wash their money down the drain in casinos.
I have to look my very best at the party for the millionaires.
Therefore, I will begin getting ready right away!
I came here to get soap. You heard me right, the bath soap. Not a regular one. Rather, the most expensive soap in the world!
The fame of this family-run business reaches far beyond Lebanon’s borders.
They use a secret 600-year-old family recipe to make their soap.
Behold the most expensive soap in the world!
If you are standing up you might want to have a seat. This tiny bar of soap costs $2,800!
It looks like an ordinary bar of soap. Why is it so expensive? I don’t get it. Why is this soap so expensive? What makes it special?
Manager: My dear this soap if a fine piece of jewelry.
Manager: In includes eleven essential oils, Spanish saffron and last but not the least gold and diamond dust.
We only produce this soap for our V.I.P. clients. Princess of Qatar for instance.
Nastya: What effect does this soap have?
Manager: My dear, this soap does wonders! It rejuvenates, moisturizes, lifts the skin and helps to remove a second chin.
Nastya: This is exactly what I need.
Manager: It is so awesome that you can eat it and it will rejuvenate you from the inside.
Nastya: Normal. Normal.
Manager: I know right!
Nastya: How long does a bar like this last?
Manager: You can take twenty showers with it, but if you do not use a lot, it will last for twenty five of them.
Nastya: Even if he would be holding a wooden toy, I would buy it for an insane amount of money! You know how to sell dude!
The best source of free fun in Beirut is the Mediterranean Sea.
The city beach is the best place to get your tan on and snorkel.
Ah, the sea!
The water is polluted along the Lebanese coast. We strongly recommend not to swim written in red.
That is catastrophic. Why did I come here for?
People are swimming! A bunch of folks are swimming! You know?
I am not sure that the people are aware. You need binoculars to see that tiny warning sign!
I must help these people! Everyone stop! You do not know the truth!
Health Inspector Anton needs to save as many people as possible.
You are not in the water. Good for you. Do not swim!
Pee pee and doo doo are here!
Those are not the names of the soccer stars!
Hey! Get out of there! There’s Mr. Poopy in there!
Please help me! He’s in ears deep! Get out! You are swimming in feces!
See for yourselves what five minutes of prophylactic work can accomplish!
Practically everyone is out of the water! Health Inspector Anton to the rescue and I will not stop!
Meanwhile, I continue getting ready for my V.I.P. party. Next stop – taking care of an evening dress code.
While local rich men compete using their sports cars, their spouses strive to have the most astonishing dress.
Which dress boasts more color, more pearls and more feathers?
Which has the most sparkle and the most bling?
Local fashionistas are prepared to pay $90,000 for a dress just to stick it to everyone.
It is on!
The dress is gorgeous, but it makes me look fat.
That is beautiful, but it is not my color.
This is what I have been looking for! I will take it.
The time had come at last! The final stage of my transformation into an eastern princess.
I would not say that I am experiencing something extraordinary.
You cannot feel the diamond dust at all.
I can attest to that.
I cannot tell the difference between this and a regular soap, but the fact itself makes me feel good!
I am bathing with a $3,000 bar of soap! Sasha I am trying to get out, so you need to leave.
If you do not leave immediately, I will mess up your lens.
While the princes and princesses are cleaning their feathers, mere mortals head to Beirut’s main square.
Beirut is fittingly named a Town of One Thousand and One Nights, because at night you can feel the atmosphere of an Arabic fairytale right on the street here.
Everywhere on the square you meet individuals wearing traditional sherwal outfits.
The coins on eastern pitchers make the twinkling sounds everywhere you go.
This is how street vendors attract tourists and offer a traditional local refreshment – rose water with Indian Tamarind fig.
Tastes like something between a compote and cola.
Here are men in long skirts who perform a traditional Arabic dervish dance.
Can you believe that the dancers can spin in one direction for as long as a half-an-hour?
Although, the most enchanting part of this Arabic fairytale is this.
I am sure that every guy agrees with me right now. It is becomes hard to concentrate.
I have never seen some many eastern beauties in one place.
They dress very well, look stylish and take great care of themselves.
You would not be able to appreciate girls like this anywhere else in the Arab world.
They do not hide their faces behind hijab here and do not turn away when men glance at them.
I wonder how Nastya is doing right now. What is she up to?
I cannot say I miss her, but I just thought about her right now.
Whom am I kidding? Hello there!
At night Beirut’s richest gravitate towards casinos.
My dress is not puffy or glittery, but nothing beats the classic look. Am I right girls?
Behold the Du Liban Casino – the oldest casino in the Middle East.
A true palace of thrill and washing money down the drain. A casino in an Arab country is very unusual.
This is not Monaco or Las Vegas. Let us check it out!
The local elite from Iran, U.A.E., Kuwait, Yemen and Syria come to Du Liban because gaming is not permitted in their countries.
The local citizens can also gamble under one condition. Their annual income must exceed $20,000.
I wonder when they give the fiscal services a call.
A V.I.P. guest can rent a personal ballroom with a dealer and a waiter.
Best of luck to me! Not to me really. Good luck to our producers! Okay. I’m ready.
I will waste your money now.
Here we go!
This is what $5,000 in chips looks like.
Dealer: Place your bet please.
Dealer: Thirty-one. Black.
The proverbial fools get lucky did not work this time. This casino made me $1,500 lighter in 30 seconds!
All right, watch and learn! Always bet on red to win money.
Dealer: Twenty-nine. Black.
Damn. I have never been a gambler, but I could not resist coming here. I’m sorry producers.
will win the next one. I can feel it! Waiter!
I am going all in.
I know I will win this time. Is it impossible to lose every time?
I learned a lesson today – gambling is not my cup of coffee.
Not because I am a loser. Everything happened just the way I intended it.
I wanted to illustrate that one could spend the money on other things.
Like shoes, dresses or food. Where is the bar?
Beautiful Lebanese girls were so enchanting that I completely lost the track of time.
Good thing that my Embassy Hotel is only 30 minutes away from the center on foot.
I did not spend much money during the day. Therefore, I decided to rent a $38 room in the cheapest hotel instead of a crummy hostel.
Here. A bed for me. A bed for you Sanya.
We have a T.V. An A/C. A phone. A fridge.
What do we have here? A terrace! The view is pretty decent.
Let me double check. Two beds, T.V, A/C, fridge, phone, terrace, decent view.
All set and ready to go! This is living! I’ll hit the shower.
Well, good night colleague. Laylatan saeida.
Sasha are you out of your mind? Get your boots of the bed! You better get ready.
We have to leave in 30 minutes. Our cameramen are spoiled brats.
The best part about free breakfast is that it also serves as free lunch and free dinner.
Beirut is hot and crowded. I advise you to spend some time outside of the city if you have two days.
Lebanon is a small country. You can cross it in just five hours and see a lot of interesting stuff along the way.
My backpack and I are heading north of Beirut today to see Lebanon’s foremost natural wonder – Jeita Grotto.
My gold card and I are also heading out of town to see Lebanon’s most unusual wonder – a mysterious city of Baalbek.
Let us go see something impressive!
One of the most enigmatic places on Earth is located an hour away from Beirut – an ancient city of Baalbek.
It is a huge city with streets, buildings and temples.
Baalbek’s history would not fit on the pages of ten textbooks.
It was founded 6,000 years ago by the Phoenicians.
Then it was conquered by the Greeks and later by the Romans and then by the Arabs.
Each era left behind a massive structure here.
Perhaps there is nothing more impressive in Baalbek than the famous monoliths.
The city comprised of these massive stone plates.
Behold the largest megalith in the world.
The weight of that chunk of stone equals to that of seven Boeings.
Stunning! This is mega super fantastic! The scientists in the 21st Century still cannot explain how it was possible
to move these megaliths and raise them to seven-story heights.
All of the locals agree that it was the work of giants and genies.
The bus route does not extend to Jeita Grotto. I will have to walk for two hours from the bus stop.
Anton: Crazy! Crazy! I am on a tight budget.
The entrance fee is $12.
We are going down to the famous Jeita Grotto.
Holy mackerel! It is so huge!
An American discovered these caves. He came down here and was stunned by the size of the cave, so he did what any American would do in his shoes – fired a rifle.
An echo was extremely loud and he realized that the size of the cave was colossal.
Jeita is not some foxhole. It is an endless gallery of natural wonders.
The river that flows through it is deep enough for a boat. Incredible! Check out these patterns!
Those stalactites accumulated over thousands of years! These stalactites look like sandcastles
and fairytale monsters who are about to devour me with their gigantic teeth!
This cave is still under construction. The water that seeps through from above brings salts and minerals.
They accumulate over years and create futuristic shapes like these. Look. The wall is wet. The construction is underway.
That cave has even more amazing things to show. Look at this stalactite and stalagmite spectacle!
I have never seen anything similar!
Just so you understand the scale. There are 50 meters above us and about 50 meters below.
You can see the lower grotto there. A gigantic 100-meter tall mine inside a mountain.
All of this is practically hanging in the air above us. Everyone please keep your voices down.
I don’t want it falling on top of me. I will hold the roof.
I visited another Lebanese miraculous sight on my way back – Baatara Gorge Waterfall.
I decided to hide a bottle with $100 here so that I would not be the only one to see this splendor.
After almost two days in Beirut, we still have not seen the most famous view. It is every tourist’s dream picture.
Pigeon’s Rock located at the end of Corniche seaside promenade is a landmark mentioned in every Beirut guidebook.
Bicycles are for wimps and losers. A personal yacht provides the best view of the Pigeon’s Rock. Try to to get here at sunset.
I gotta make it! I gotta make it! I made it! I made it!
Friends behold the Pigeon’s Rock! As the legend goes, in the past people who had their hearts broken would jump from the top.
The question is how they go up there. Even the mountain climbers could not do it, so the riddle remains.
No pigeons in sight either. It is a bummer that the rocks are on one side while the sunset is on the other.
Anton is luckier, because he can see both the rocks and the setting sun from the shore.
Beirut will be ideal for those who would like to enjoy the colorful eastern flavor, without giving up the European comfort.
I really like this!
A good choice for those who want to spend thousands of dollars in style…
…and for those who scrambled $100 for a weekend.
Holy mackerel! It is huge!
Visit Beirut soon in case you have not already.
He is my driver. You are an unknown driver.
That was awkward!
I came to get soap.
I am an architecture geek.
Pee pee and Ka ka are not the names of the soccer stars!
Health Inspector Anton to the rescue and I will not stop.
What are you waiting here for?
I am waiting for your feedback on Beirut.
You go first.
Okay. Deal. The place is very strange. On one hand, it is an Arab city, but it has so much stuff from Europe!
I have to agree with you.
It is very rich, but at the same time, there are some very underprivileged quarters.
I will have to take your word for it. I am a gold card girl, while poverty is your middle name.
You just insulted me. Why don’t you say the punchline?
I do not mind. I like being in front of the camera. Friends, my dear, darling individuals, we will see you in the…
…in the next episode!
If I were you, I would say a prayer.
Pray so that the sky has mercy upon you and you at least get a glimpse of riches in the next city.
I love you.
I love you too.
As a friend.
Without a doubt.