....for non smokers!
One of the hazards of visiting Tripoli was the smoking habits of the locals. Smoking was allowed everywhere and hotel rooms and restaurants could, and often did, reek of cigarettes and old tobacco smoke. Not any more! New legislation has seen the banning of smoking indoors in public buildings of all sorts.
In the tea houses of Tripoli, you will see men smoking hubble-bubble, known locally as nargileh, or shisha. If you want to try it, a waiter will bring you one. It is a very light, perfumed smoke and even non-smokers, like me, find it tolerable. The tobaccos often include fruit flavours, such as peach and strawberry. It's worth trying once, just to see what it's like.
Cafe Salim in Maidan al-Jezayir is a good place to try it.
Traditional bathhouses in N.Africa, so also in Libya.
There are at least three in the medina of Tripoli, male or female users have different opening hours, tourists can have a look inside after permission of the guardian, and accordingly the sex (wow!)
- Al - Heygha
- Al - Kebira
Charges are 1 LD for a steam bath, 2 LD for a massage and 5 LD for a total full scrubbing work. Very cheap and a tradition in this countries, but so different from the tradition in the northern part of Europe.
BTW : Once i had a total full scrubbing work in Istanbul/Turkey. I ran away when i saw the "masseur", my daughter Kim enjoyed it !
I visited in the meanwhile (my age-lol) some soukhs/medina's in Northern Africa. Untill now the medina in Fez (Morrocco) impressed me the most. The Tripoli one is recommended too, but needs as fast as possible some renovations. And they will be realised asap, because since the stop of the UN embargo, Tripoli became a so called "booming" city. I hope Benghazi and many other cities in Libya will follow rapidly.
Walking around Tripoli, you'll see that everyday dress is not a political issue in Libya, instead distinctions fall along generational lines. You will see people of different generations walking together, each dressed according to their age (photo 1). Ethnicity plays a part too, particularly in the choice of the cloaks older men weat almost all year round - Berber men choosing to wear their traditional white or cream toga-like blanket whilst Arabs wear a cloak that fastens at the neck, younger men tend to eschew both (photos 2 and 3).
Most women choose to wear some form of hijab (photo 4), with older women adding a long coat to their outdoor wear (photo 5), but others, particularly those working in arenas that bring them into contact with non-Muslim visitors to the country, have discarded their headcoverings and all-enveloping coats. There is absolutely no need for women tourists to feel they need do any more than dress as modestly as they would going to visit a rather stuffy maiden aunt.
Whilst many men wear some form of tradtional dress regularly, nowadays women keep their traditional costumes for high days and holidays. These are a much more gorgeous affair. You'll catch a glimpse of them in the fabrics and elaborate gold on sale in the souk but, unless you're fortunate enough to be invited to a wedding or some other celebration, you'll have to be content with photos like the ones here
Unlike other desert nations where blue, the colour of water, the desert-dweller's most precious asset, is the favourite colour, here in Libya it is "akhdar" - green - the colour of Islam.
Colonel Ghadaffi's Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (to give the country its full name) is a a secular state, but over 95% of the population are Sunni Muslims and solid green field of the country's flag (photo 1) symbolizes both their devotion to Islam and the "Green Revolution" that saw Ghaddafi installed as the "Great Leader"
You'll see the flag flying everywhere in Tripoli, just as you will see green used as the accent colour on all sorts of buildings from mosques (photo 2) to the shutters on the Italianate buildings of the New City (photo 3).
Green Square is the main hub of the city, where the medina meets the 20th century. Virtually every poster (and they are ubiquitous) featuring the Leader (photo 4) or the tenets of the Revolution has a green background, and then there is the Green Book (photo 5) Ghadaffi's personal mainfesto for the"Third Way", his vision of the ideal state.
Seeing wonderfully elaborate outfits (photo 1) and beautifully beaded and embroidered fabrics (photo 2) in the medina, I assumed they were wedding attire, a thought that was confirmed by one of the shop keepers. Having been to a wedding in London where the groom was Libyan and the bride American - a great night with bride and groom's arrival accompanied with traditional drums and women ululating, but still essentially western, I asked a Libyan friend for some details of how it was done in Libya and was told of weddings that lasted four and five days though three is more usual these days.
If a wedding is to last five days, it starts with "hafla", a night of eating, music and dancing (men and women at seperate venues), the bride in traditional costume, the guests in their best finery (photo 3).
Day 2, "nejma" is when the bride is prepared for her wedding with patterrns of henna being aplied to to her feet, arms and hands - a painstaking process that can take hours.
On the third day (goufah"), the groom's family and friends bring gold (photo 4) and gifts to the bride who is dressed in a Western-style white wedding gown (photo 5)as she continues to celebrate with her family and friends. The groom spends the day with his friends and family at a long lunch.
Day 4 (dokhla) is the day the bride is taken to her groom - with much celebration and noise, honking of car horns, drumming and whoops. This is a day for dressing in more traditional finery. The groom wil be subjected to lots of jokes and teasing as this is his wedding night.
Finally comes day 5 (sabayyiha - "the day after), that begins with a big breakfast. More finery is required this day - and the bride may change her clothes three or four times as the day wears on. It must be with a great sense of relief that the newly-wed couple finally escapes to go on honeymoon together - alone at last!
My photos are all from the souk, but fellow VtER, Omran has some lovely wedding photos in a travelogue.
Tradition,Religion and Politics are still very strong in Libya and an outsider should never interfere and criticise during a conversation or otherwise. Also no alcohol is allowed in LIBYA....so respect them and they in turn will show you much more respect.
BAB AL BAHR HOTEL
ABAB ALBAHR HOTEL.. This hotel is one of the achievement of Great Al Fateh revollition in the field of tourism, it is sitated I the center of the city of Tripoli, Great Jamahiriah, it is over looks the coast of the Mediterranean, constructed of 14, storey and consists of large no. of single, Double, special room, and excellent suites, all are airconditioned and connected with satellite T.V plus telephone network for international calls and fax services.
Comfortable rooms.. and room suites
At the other side of the ground floor there are number of big modern elevators ready to take you to any of the fifteen floors where your room located. There are excellent suites and single and double rooms, all with complete bath rooms, television and radio sets and telephone for local and international calls. The house is centrally airconditioned, with a control switch to set the desired temperature of the room or suit.
A twenty four hours service is available please do not hesitate to use such facility, your order shall be well received.
Presents delicious meals and special oriental food
All kind of meals and variety of light meals to your taste.
Sea Wave Cafeteria
It is one of the service facilities of the hotel which provides cold soft and hot drink, cake and pizza, throughout the day, up last hours of the night. There is also the swimming pool on the opposite side, which is provided with comfortable chairs and sun shades for relaxation and enjoyment of the beautiful scenery.
Room service Restaurant
Works around the clock (24) hours a day, presents a special services to have their favorite meals in their room.
Located in the ground floor, the Africa hall contains a great number of comfortable chairs and equipments with the latest communication system. The hall is designed especially for holding meeting and organizing seminars and international conference as well as social occasions.
Attached to the hall, there are side hall facing the front garden of the hotel where seminars and meetings are held.
Office of computer system: It provides, typing and photocopying.
Clinic: provides the required medical services and first aids.
Tourist office: provides air tickets land and marine transport, car rental and hotel reservations.
Commercial shop, specialized in sale of perfume, gifts traditional crafts and valuable items with low prices.
A modern barber shop, situated on the opposite site.
Tel +218 21 3350676 / 3350710
Fax +218 21 350711