Tripoli, First Impressions

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: After we got over the initial shock, we’re settling in. Tripoli is a place I’d been looking at for a few years to work in and the first couple of days I was beginning to think that I should have been careful about what I was wishing for. Anyway, as I’ve said, we’re settling albeit, still stuck in a hotel while we wait for our house to be completed.

We’re in the second hotel so far and by all accounts, this is supposed to be one of the better ones in town. I’ve travelled all over South East Asia, India, the Middle East and Europe and the hotels here are amongst the worst that I’ve ever encountered.

The first hotel was the Asshajara Hotel in Seedy Eassa Street and it had quite simply the worst food that I’ve ever encountered, it was simply inedible. There are dozens of expats living there, as there are in our second hotel and the complaints about the food were the same from all of them, so although I’d pass off criticism from one small group (i.e. ourselves) it’s the same from guests of all nationalities. The service was marginally better than the food, not saying much but at least there's’ room for improvement.

The food at the second hotel is really no better. It seems to me that hotels we’ve stayed at so far employ the worst possible chefs in order to minimise the numbers of restaurant staff and cleaning up required. However, the staff here area n improvement, they have a way to go but then again, the tourism industry here is in it’s infancy and they need good examples and training to progress.

We’ve eaten now twice at the Corinthian Hotel, the one “5 Star” hotel in town. The first meal at the upstairs outdoor dining area of the Venezia Restaurant was great, the steak that I had was well cooked and well presented. Mrs. Dadfap had pasta that was tasty but a little overcooked but the octopus salad that the third person at our table had was also delicious. Good food, good ambience and good company, not a bad evening, I really should have taken my camera as the sunset shots would have been stunning.

The Corinthian was let down by the second meal that we had there a few days later at the downstairs buffet. It’s beautifully presented but by and large it’s pretty bland. I had the salads and seafood and my wife had the salads and turkey, which really was the highlight of the meal. The beer was warm (even non-alcoholic beer should be chilled) and arrived about 10 minutes after being ordered, pretty tragic really when the restaurant had only 5 tables occupied. The service was pretty awful and a real disappointment after the experience at one of their other restaurants just a few nights earlier.

Tripoli has the potential to be one of the most beautiful cities on the Mediterranean coast. It has old world charm, interesting and unique architecture and a really quite wonderful climate but it needs cleaned up. There seems to be no interest in keeping the place clean which is truly a shame.

The next 5 years or so are going to see substantial changes in Libya and I think in Tripoli in particular, it’s going to be an interesting place to be.

With the exception of couple a short breaks in Australia, we’ve been expats for the better part of the last 15 years so we know this is only the beginning of our time here and that all of this fun will fade into the background. So, we’ll continue to live in Tripoli and get used to the differences between here and the rest of the world, after all, that’s a good part of the reason to be an expat.