Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Fell in love with Madrid for 3 main reasons: warmth of its people, it hasn't been fully 'globalized' (i.e. i only saw 2 McD's & 1 Starbucks), and excellent shopping. I can write volumes about the Spaniards just from my 2 day visit, but what i am really wondering at is did they become like us or did we become like them as the result of our Andalucian occupation?

Children everywhere, they dont sleep.
Women: Over weight is ok, very hairy, beautiful hair, wear no make up or too much.
Men: Staring at asses and prolonged eye contact, gentlemen (open doors)
They automatically think you're Spanish & think you're chicken nuggets if you don't speak back in Spanish.
The airport looks like Kuwait International Airport, 1978.
On a national holiday (yesterday) EVERYTHING is closed.
Siesta is a serious issue (ildeera kilaha itgayel).
My client (owner of a huge retail group) wanted to meet at 12 a.m., not even apologizing for the time, and he is not a rude man, nor is he a perv.

Other Observations:
I want to marry an Italian. Any half breeds out there?


Where the men staring at you and if so, what was your reaction?

How did the meeting go?

Why do you mention Italians on a Spanish thread?

Madrid does rock, I really need to go back and spend more time there. I know a great place to get a haircut considered one of the hippest in the area if your intrested.

What I love about Madrid/Spain that siesta is organized, it is all shutdown and then they make up for it late at night. I would love to have meetings around that time since I am very much a night person.
If you want to marry an Italian, why look for a half breed? either you take the whole package or you choose something else. Besides Italians are momma's boys, so what you will end up with is the same as you would end up with if you married here.

As for your observations on Madrid, they did not become like us, they have always been that way.
Rave, if your Qs are to know if i caught their attention, the answer is of course.

Oh & about the Italian, i met an Italian stallion during the trip *sighhhhhhhhhhhhhh*

Nibaq, yes please tell me where to go, i plan to go back there soon (insha'Allah) :)
Purg: Mali khilg aflam from my fam! (hey that ryhmes).

Dear Queen Sheba,

Italians do do it better! But how do i explain to an Italian that i am a virgin?

Princess Agony
Blah, thats a myth.

Just tell him your mother Teresa
the place is called

Juan, Por Dios!

Tel 91 523 36 49
C Perez Galdos,
3 28004 Madrid

It is a really hip place call to make an appointment cause they get full, but if you go there you may get lucky and there is a person with a no show.
I think the Arabs had a huge influence on the progress of Spanish culture. I mean we did rule them for over 700 years didn't we? I mean just check out their language! There is no other "romance language" (meaning those derived from Latin) with more arabic words than Spanish and Portuguese.
So I guess if you get a feeling they are similar to us, we made them that way.
Im half italyan Half Sudani ...
intrested ?
Gooner, a linguist once told me that Spanish has 7000 Arabic words!

If i can go back in time, i wish i could be an andalucian muse. Not too ambitious I know, but it sounds so romantic!
Princess A: ummm the Italians are Roman Catholic so I hope he understands. Or just tell him you're the Pope's niece ;)
Nibaq, i dont cut my hair! But thank you for the tip. Btw, any other cool places?
For some tapas and music, try Bar Louie in Gemayzeh Street (Beirut); it may not be Madrid but it's close and you can also check La Tabkha and Le Chef, both friendly and delicious hideouts.


PS (for the aficionados, check article below - published in Impressions/British Mediterranean Airways)

"...Every capital city has them. Rundown quarters formerly thought of as areas no hipster would be seen dead in, let alone choose to live. New York had SoHo in the early 1970s, and London had Notting Hill around the same time. Today New York has seen the suburb of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, familiarly known by residents as Billyburg, become the in-zone - a former industrial area populated by Polish and Dominican immigrants full of warehouses that became artist’s lofts before the trendy cafés, bars and restaurants moved in.

London’s equivalent is Shoreditch in the east of the city, another former industrial zone populated by workers and a large Bangladeshi community, which is now all the rage amongst musicians, artists and barflies. The suburb of Hackney further east, lacking only a tube station to its name, is fast on Shoreditch’s tail.

And Beirut, a city in which it is impossible to ignore the significance of fashion and its effects, has Gemaizeh. Over the last two years this neighbourhood just slightly east of Beirut’s downtown district and outside the environs of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri’s Solidere construction company responsible for all restoration in thecentral district, has rapidly built itself into the number one area to live, work and play.

Unlike downtown, Gemaizeh was never completely destroyed during the tumultuous war years, and still retains the flavour of old Beirut. Populated in the past by many old, primarily Christian families, and today still full of an elder generation of residents, Gemaizeh has been designated an area of traditional character by the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism, with its original red tile roofed houses and buildings dating back to the 1930s and 1940s French mandate days.

Yet in just 24 months it has seen property prices rise by almost double across all categories, as café and restaurant owners, property developers and discerning homebuyers - especially young creatives – have identified its commercial and residential potential.

With three art galleries – the classical and contemporary ones of Alice and Fadi Mogabgab respectively and the avant avant-garde space that is Espace SD run by 26 year-old Sandra Dagher – a low-key music store, numerous grocers and butchers, antiques sellers and cheap Lebanese, Armenian and fusion cuisine restaurants, Gemaizeh is arguably Beirut’s most happening and dynamic district. Almost $50 million has been invested in retail and residential projects throughout the neighbourhood and demand is continuing to rise. For Dagher, who opened her gallery ahead of the trend in 2000, it is only natural that Gemaizeh should have exploded into Beirut’s urban consciousness.“It is a funky area, that is centrally located, full of old houses and traditional yet still relatively cheap,” she explains, “and a great source of inspiration.”

Gemaizeh’s rebirth began in 2001 with the renovation in Rue Gourand (the main street), of the neighbourhood’s old glass café – in Arabic, Ahwet Azeiz – a large spacious café with tiled walls and glass windows populated by old men drinking Turkish coffee, smoking narguileh (Arabic water pipes) and playing shesh besh (backgammon).

Following that, the very chic French bakery Paul opened up to be constantly filled by the rich society crowd each lunchtime. Then came alternatives in the form of the New York-style fusion restaurant Food Yard, all colours and simplicity attracting the young and hip – something very new for Beirut.
One by one, more eateries arrived.

Homecooked Lebanese cuisine appeared at the cheap and cheerful La Tabkha restaurant opposite Food Yard owned by Fadi Saba, the man responsible for opening the designer bar-restaurant Centrale in 2001 just up the road which was designed by Beirut’s modernist bad boy of architecture, Bernard Khoury.
Next to La Tabkha, the jazz and tapas bar Louie came into being, the first place in Gemaizeh to offer food, drink and quality live music from local bands and top jazz musicians from New York – most recently trumpeter Tex Allen.

To add even more eclecticism to the mix, an Italian-style walk-in café by day and bar by night, Torino Express opened up in an old hole in the wall serving fantastic Italian espressos and cheap beers, to mad success.
Then there are the historic St Nicholas steps, a wide open stairway leading up the hill to the famous Sursock Street and its aging colonial villas that have been recently restored by the Association for the Development of Gemaizeh (ADG). Every Autumn for two weeks the stairs are taken over by local artists and craftsmen plying their wares in an unmissable and increasingly prestigious festival of the arts.

The renaissance of Gemaizeh is hardly surprising. This once commercially redundant but alluringly distressed neighbourhood is close to the central district and the sea, has a certain aesthetic value and most importantly it is comparatively cheap.
Downtown, the price per square meter for a commercial space ranges from $750-$1,000. A 120-square- meter restaurant goes for around $150,000 per year in rent according to figures from. Then comes an initial investment of $100,000 without kitchen plus an 8.5 percent municipality tax. Total initial opening costs equal about $300,000. The cost for an equivalent space in Gemaizeh is cheaper by two thirds.

Unlike the well-known and now bar/club-saturated Monnot Street party area in Beirut’s Achrafieh suburb, Gemaizeh is not about nightclubs. Its aging residents see to that. They want the area to remain somewhat quiet, and to hold onto its traditional charm – something that Monnot Street has failed to do despite hundreds of thousands of dollars invested to cobble the roads and plant trees on the pavements.

Maher Chebaro, owner of Food Yard and a founding partner of jazz joint Bar Louie, explains how the local residents signed a petition against the word Bar in the name of his place.

“They wanted it removed because to many people in the area, 'bar’ was a euphemism for 'brothel’, so we removed the 'bar’ and left the 'Louie’,” he says. “But everyone still calls it Bar Louie.”

While this sort of community spirit is precisely what gives Gemaizeh its traditional allure, it is also what is seeing it boom and may cause that allure to disappear. The Lebanese love to go out and they love to make money, and when a new up-and-coming area becomes the place to be, anyone who is anyone wants a piece of it.

There are already six new restaurant and bar projects scheduled to open before the summer season, including a sushi bar, an Italian restaurant, a relaxed café from the owners of the oldest and never out of fashion Pacifico bar in Monnot, as well as a music hall going by the name of Club Social.

The result of so many hip hangouts and local services all in one neighbourhood so close to downtown, has seen of course an influx of Beirut’s yuppy class, as well as of the fewer and poorer struggling artists, writers and students. While the latter group look for apartments in the still many crumbling traditional houses, the former look for space in the many new residential developments that are appearing in the area. Two of these go by the name of the Convivium I and II – five-floor apartment blocks in which all flats have been sold at an average price of $1,200 per square meter.

Gemaizeh is witnessing a renaissance it could never have imagined five years ago, when the only restaurant was the famous but notoriously run down Le Chef Lebanese eatery and businesses mostly manufacturing factories and shipping companies due to the area’s location just a short walk away from Beirut port.

How long the area can manage its gentrification while retaining its traditional character remains to be seen, as investment continues to come in and commercial and residential prices continue to rise.

But for now Gemaizeh has something for everyone, and a magnetic eclecticism unmatched by any other neighbourhood in Beirut. As long as residents remain vigilant, the restaurants, shops and galleries that plan to open maintain the imagination and foresight of the current joints, and developers keep a cap on property prices, Gemaizeh has the potential to stay cool a while yet."
CN: how tall are you?
Rave: Gracias Senior!
I'll take Gemaizeh over Ashrafieh any day. It reminds me of NY's Lower East Side. I've been to each of the places listed in that article, and Torino Express is owned by an old college friend and her husband.

Sheba, my mother always said we only taught Spaniards to sleep in the afternoons...

ديرة تنام الظهر ما فيها خير

I respectfully disagree with her ;-)
Ramadan Mubarak Sheba :)
Zaydoun, didn't they say that people of the Med have less heart attacks because of siestas?
Hola Señorita Sheba

¿Puedo tener yo este baile?


Ya3ni u take my answer to her and twist in your own way (copyright).

wo embarak 3aleeech elsha-har.
Purg & Rav: ma fahamt shay. Tara i7ooshni A.D.D. wana sayma.

I mentioned that you took my comment and twisted it in your own way in a comment, so why repeat what is said before?
La siniorita Sheba, El senior Rave; he iz asking you forr too daance :)
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