Bettina's Take: Beirut Diary Part 2


Photo: Bettina Zilkha

The ruins at Byblos.

I'm a big believer in burning the candle at both ends when visiting a foreign country. Luckily the Mishaans, the Snyders and the Taylors were also game for sightseeing, and not just partying, while we were in Beirut. We woke up late the next morning, a little worse for wear after our night at White, and headed for the historic city of Byblos, with its ancient castle and ruins, and its small souk.

"I can't see another ruin," said Richard Mishaan, who had just toured Israel, and could by now give a comprehensive lecture on the baths in Roman times.

Photo: Bettina Zilkha

The spice market.

Photo: Bettina Zilkha

Edde Sands Resort in Beirut.

We walked through the souk in the hot Mediterranean sun, picked up spices and Lebanese cookbooks, and headed to Edde Sands beach to cool off. We had heard it was the hot spot for locals, the beach where sophisticated Beirutis meet, swim and enjoy local cuisine. The place is huge, a resort with several pools, private cabanas, a full service spa, shops, and an open air restaurant on the beach.

We got home in time to relax a bit before what was billed as The Big Event, held at Orchid Beach, 45 minutes south of Beirut, by the sea.

Photo: Mark Cohen

Orchid Beach.

Rena was a vision in a custom-made Roberto Cavalli dress in graduated blue tones. Christian Louboutin had designed a pair of sparkly blue gladiator platforms that completed the outfit to perfection. Musicians, drummers and dancers announced the couple's arrival at the seated dinner around the pool. Makram gave a moving and beautiful speech. "I feel like I'm at the Oscars, I have so many people to thank," he said. "Rena is my Oscar." He was followed by his wonderful stepchildren, Leana and Talia, who inherited their mother's energy, poise and humor. The newlyweds danced the first dance to Enrique Igelsias's I Could Be Your Hero Baby, on the white platform in the pool, and family and close friends joined them.

Photo: Mark Cohen

Christian Louboutin and Rena.

Photo: Mark Cohen

Rena's custom Christian Louboutin shoes.

Photo: Mark Cohen

Rena, in her custom-made Roberto Cavalli dress, with her daughters.

A Lebanese feast, complete with mezze and spit-roasted lamb, was served buffet style; guests marveled at an extraordinary fireworks display before going downstairs to the beach side dance floor. "I'm so happy, I'm so happy," Rena kept saying, and we couldn't help but be happy too, knowing our friend had found her soul mate, and being there to celebrate with them in this extraordinary place, under the stars.

The next day, Makram's parents gave a wonderful lunch at La Plage, a hip harbor side restaurant where the scantily clad glitterati go to tan and swim.

Photo: Mark Cohen

La Plage.

Photo: Mark Cohen

Rena (right) and Ozlem Onal (left).

The store next door to La Plage was filled with local crafts, glassware, clothing, jewelry, home goods, with no bargaining allowed.

"How much for the agate worry beads?", I asked. They were $50, so I offered them $40. "You can't bargain, this is a government-owned store!", they answered. What was the fun in that? This was the Middle East, after all, and bargaining is half the fun of buying.

Photo: Mark Cohen

Reem Debs, Cynthia Kaufman, Henry Kaufman, Rena and Serena Boardman.

Photo: Mark Cohen

Prince Pierre D'Arenberg, Bettina Zilkha and Mark Cohen.

That night, Reem and Bassam Debs gave the farewell dinner at Lola Nass, an open air restaurant in the mountains, in the town of Bikfaya, where the temperature was about 30 degrees cooler. One last, casual buffet, with a belly dancer and some more dancing, and it was finally time to go home - though Rena, gorgeous again in her sparkling gold Dennis Basso, promised a reunion in ten years.

I'm already gearing up.

Get caught up with Bettina's Take: Beirut Diary Part 1.