Military Complex


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The Two Faces of a Military Complex

Published by Michael Dib — 3 years ago

Lebanese beaches

A great place to visit during any time of the year as long as the weather is warm. It's a place of relaxation, enjoyment and great fun for the family. Didn’t expect that from a military complex, eh?

While the name rings true, that it is ‘owned’ by the army command, it isn’t some empty beach designed for military drills. During the late 1990s this complex was retrofitted with a spa, a couple of pools, a great bathing area and more access to the public.

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(Source:https://www.lebarmy.gov.lb/en/content/military-complex-%E2%80%93-jounieh)

One important fact before we move on, as outrageous as it sounds, the majority, if not all Lebanese beaches, are privatised. To get to most beaches you’ll be forced to pay an entrance fee for yourself and any of your mates. However, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Most of these privatised areas have pools, lockers, indoor showers, restaurants, lounge chairs, umbrellas and much more. They are also well kept for, in the sense that they are kept clean as sea walls are common in Lebanon and algae starts to build up.

So, my family and I would take the hour or so drive to Jounieh from the area we lived in. As most summer days in Lebanon, its scorching hot. We entered the complex, paid the fee and dropped off our extra stuff in the locker room. From there we had access to all parts of the complex allowed to the public.

To start off, we would always go to the beach and secure our seats. This complex would get busy pretty fast due to its quality and popularity. So once we claimed our seats and applied our sun cream, I would usually go straight for a dip. The complex has a sea-wall that was originally built in the 1990s for defensive purposes. There is a small opening for swimmers, ski-boats and yachts to cross through. However, you could still find large sea life such as a two feet fish swimming about.

I recalled seeing my first large fish in the complex swimming a meter away from the shore, this was in the early hours of the day at the complex. The mostly enclosed swimming area had a few floating platforms designed for swimmers and sunbathers to get to and take a breather as it was a bit of a swim to get to.

The place would get filled quite quickly by noon, although it wasn’t bad enough to be considered overcrowded. My brother and I would always build sand castles or walls against the sea. Often we would get a couple of very experienced sand ‘architects’. I’ve seen them build intricate wolves laying down, mermaids, pyramids and much more. The shore would always be littered with beach tennis and football games. Often you would get people playing handball in the sea. So it was usually pretty active at the beach,

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(Source:https://www.lebarmy.gov.lb/en/content/military-complex-%E2%80%93-jounieh)

The beach’s sea area, which is 95% walled off from the rest of the sea, is divided into two halves by another vertical sea wall. The right side is used by the public; while the left side is mostly used for boat-parking and for those looking to get a fishing sesh in on a beautiful clear day. If you're feeling like a jog or just want to snap that perfect photo of the beach, the seawall also doubles as a large walkway for a spectacular jog. People would often walk all the way around then get into the sea for a more natural experience. Or if they wanted, they'd jump onto the complex's covered side and swim to the platforms which are only several meters away. Often people would challenge themselves to swim from that end to the shore.

Poolsides

If you want to take a break from the sand, the complex sports three different pools. The smaller outdoor pool is a great place to relax or splash around. Its surrounded by lounge chairs, perfect for a soak and lounge session. The pool tends to get a bit too full later on in the day with screaming children and young kids shouting about. So after the early period I tended to avoid the pool.

Then, there’s the large olympic size indoor pool. This beautiful pool is connected to a narrow passage that opens up to an outdoor pool in the sun. This pool tends to get less crowded than the first pool. Unlike the first pool, you’re allowed to jump and play water sports there. So handball tends to be the common theme there.

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(Source:https://www.lebarmy.gov.lb/en/content/military-complex-%E2%80%93-jounieh)

If you yearn for a bit of sun, you could simply swim on over to the connected outdoor pool. This area is much shallower than the other pools and is predominantly filled with toddlers and their parents. It still provides a great place to enjoy a casual float about.

Active and rest areas

For the more active patrons who are looking to avoid skipping a day of exercise and are not satisfied with swimming have access to the complex’s gym. This massive gym is fitted with muscle building machines, yoga mats, dozens of treadmills and stationary bikes and many other gym equipment to get your full workout. I personally never used the gym due to the fact that I like to keep my relaxing beach days relaxing. A piece of common sense, they won't let you in if you’re covered in sand or water.

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(Source:https://www.lebarmy.gov.lb/en/content/military-complex-%E2%80%93-jounieh)

The complex also has a ‘rest area’. This lounging area is fitted with many comfortable chairs, tables and a fully stocked bar. It also has an area with sofas for the children to sit down without disturbing the others.

One of the gems of the complex is their spa. This serene place is a nice area to escape the buzz of shouting kids and loud and laughing adults. This area, however, is kept more for the higher members of the army hierarchy and their family members.

I had been allowed to look around when I was much younger. From what I recall, they had several massage tables with masseuses providing great services. Some used hot stones or balms and oils to provide better relaxation. The spa also had a hot bath that seemed like the busiest part of the large room. I was told that they also had a large sauna around the back and its own shower rooms to cool down. As a child I didn’t have much interest in it, but in retrospect, it's actually an amazing place

Restaurants

However, the creme de la creme of the services provided by the venue is their main restaurant. Serviced by a large group of young soldiers, the restaurant provides many meals at lightning speed and discipline at a reasonable price. My family and I would usually juggle between the burger and fries or pizzas. The food was always enjoyable, especially after a long few hours of swimming and moving about. Nothing would make me happier than chomping on one of their freshly made pizzas. They also offer boxes of wedges, fries, fish and chips, sandwiches, chicken nuggets, ice creams and much more.

We would usually end our day playing cards over a bowl of sunflower seeds. When the sun started to set, we would pack up, shower, grab our stuff from the locker then head off. Exhausted but satisfied, we would usually grab ice-cream on the way home. Another successful day at the Military complex.

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