From Beirut to Barcelona

Courtesy of Gratisography

Courtesy of Gratisography

The last time I ate McDonald’s was when I was at the Frankfurt Airport on my way to NYC. Had you told me that I was going to be back here 4 months later while on my way to Barcelona, I would’ve given you a high-five, done a victory dance, and also been in awe that I managed to steer clear of Big Macs for that long. I was going to use the “I’m traveling” excuse to be reunited with the classic but it turns out there’s no McDo in this terminal. Instead, I’m stuck with a pathetic 10-Euro Thai chicken sandwich. Boo.

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As you can see above, Barcelona’s been on the travel list for a while. I’ve heard good things about the Spanish coastal town and its art, architecture, and ham. All summer, friends who’ve been have told me that I will fall in love with the place. I’m hoping that they haven’t set my expectations too high; there’s a lot of pressure to make the most of this temporary move.

And that’s another thing – it feels strange leaving Beirut when there is a chance for change back home (too optimistic?). There is so much uncertainty in the months ahead but I can’t tell if that’s me or a symptom of the lost millennial generation of global opportunity, information overload, and goldfish attention spans. How the heck do you navigate through all the possibility? Maybe no one’s got it figured out and it’s actually about learning to be at peace with the idea that we’re all just winging it as we go.

I came across this video about the “origin of x” and its relation to Arabic and Spanish. It was comforting to see that I’d be learning more about the Arabic script in a non-Arab country that still had linguistic ties to it in some way. Maybe Spain will be the intersection of foreign and familiar. Only time will tell.

Follow my adventure via #BambigoestoBarca on Instagram.
I’ll be blogging as much as I can too.

P.S. – Maktoub 3 Loubnan has NOT been put on hold. My sister will be checking the mail periodically in my absence so please find a cool postcard for your memory. Check out the ones that have made it over so far here.

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Mistakes Made in NYC

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    • Buy a SIM card from a vending machine in JFK. T-Mobile, why no stand at the airport? How are there no telecom providers there? What’s a payphone?
    • Pay for individual metro rides. Get the unlimited 7-day card for $32 and take all the wrong trains you want, no penalties for being a semi-tourist except lost time.
    • Fail to invent an app that tells you where there are clean public bathrooms and charging stations. Every traveler’s two worst enemies are iPhone batteries and bladders. With that said, thank you Starbucks for your $7 blattery break. Get the powerbank from all those techie shops in Duty Free.
    • Assume that Airbnb hosts will have towels available because it’s basically like a hotel with a stove, right? Go buy $5 bath towels from a dollar shop around the corner. Proceed to have pink fuzz everywhere after every shower. It’s been 3 days since I returned and I still feel like a molting Furby.
    • Allow eternally lost friend to navigate. Instead of ending up at Century 21, the discount hotspot by the Empire Hotel, you end up near a Century 21 real estate office in Soho.
    • Attend Sleep No More while suffering from respiratory allergies. Although one of the most intriguing experiences and my first at interactive theatre, running up and down staircases through creepy sets with a mask on when you can’t breathe is a whole new level of nightmare. Note to self: bring tissue and a snorkel next time.
    • Eat breakfast before going to Smorgasburg. That’s just wasted space. Especially when you’re going to be stocking up on 18-hr cooked bbq beef burgers, ramen burgers, nutella banana wontons, and truffle fries. And maple lemonade. And cheese curds. And Pepto-Bismol.
    • Eat everything and justify it by saying “well, you ARE walking a lot here.” You are not Forrest Gumping through the Meatpacking District, you’re packing meat through all the districts. No, I don’t mean like that, perv.
    • Wait too long for a table at Spotted Pig in Greenwich without taking photos of the movie-set neighborhood streets because, if you walk away, you might miss Kanye walking in. Forget to ask for your burger without Roquefort cheese because you’re so hungry you didn’t even read the menu, you just said “burger, medium well” and started counting pig statues. Miss the train back to Brooklyn for the Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory Tour. Go home to slip into food coma.
    • Wear the right shoes with the wrong socks and bleed on your Nikes. Use this as a completely illogical excuse to buy a new pair and go to Lady Foot Locker when you know sneakers are your Louboutins. If you find yourself agreeing with the saleslady when she says, “you can never have too many Nikes,” you need to get out. ABORT MISSION.
    • After realizing you are part of the first two cult followings of America (Starbucks and Apple), contemplate joining the 3rd: Abercrombie & Fitch. Realize you don’t like smelling like a junior prom queen or lining up to use a flashlight to shop for hoodies. I can do both by rummaging through my own garage.
    • Pass up on a bottle of chili oil honey from Roberta’s because you got take-out since there was a wait of an hour and fifteen minutes and you didn’t want to buy it before trying the Beesting Pizza. You thought something called “chili honey oil” could actually taste bad. Fool.
    • Leave ribs on your plate at Hillstone because you’re full. You could’ve taken 4 more, weakling.
    • Going to Fuerza Bruta after ingesting half of NYC. I am a slug in human form.
    • Only spending 10 minutes at Grand Central Station and 30 in Dumbo. What are you even doing underground on the subway where you see nothing but people using the earphone protective forcefield? Swim to Brooklyn.
    • Wait for someone to ask where you’re from. Walk around with “I’m from Beirut” written on your face because people will either think you’re:
      a) a good businessperson
      b) friendly unlike the “dry Americans” and give you hugs goodbye
      c) from a place they’ve never heard of and, thus, you are exotic or a terrorist
      d) just sooo gorgeous.Upon revealing my nationality, an Ivory Coast cabbie immediately felt a connection because our countries were both occupied by the French, a Yugoslavian mother told me her life story within 12 minutes of meeting, a Turkish shop owner gave me free postcards & stickers, and a Puerto Rican gay man named Carlos said I was the Regina George of New York. WIN.
    • Send a picture of your vegan doughnut to your vegan sister. Have her jealous vibes send your cappuccino flying into your lap. Plus side is smelling like doughnut glaze all day.
    • Introduce yourself using Arabic pronunciation. Adopt “Vera” as your new name since that’s what they hear anyway.
    • Constantly move. Johnathan from HONY can’t take your picture if you don’t stand still and look pensive. I had my speech ready and everything. I even bought a hipster hat from a Brooklyn flea market.
    • Be flattered by people thinking you’re a New Yorker but then have an existential crisis about whether you are meant to be one or not. Chuckle and think, “Please. Carlos is right. I got this,” and get on the 6 humming JLo.
    • Use the excuse “I’m cold” to eat warm breakfasts like bagels, waffles, and muffins. Blueberry flavor and topped with fresh fruit because, ya know, it’s healthy. Having an everything bagel will teach you that frozen Sara Lee bagels tossed in a toaster aren’t bagels, they’re carbohydrate lies. Thank God that the cold also means your clothing layers will hide your gluttony until you go on a kale-only diet for 6 months upon return to the labneh motherland.
  • Miss labneh.

Bambi’s Soapbox: Top 5 of 2014

I did not post as much as I would’ve liked this year and I plan on working on that for 2015. Apparently, I post on Sundays the most. And here I am, posting again on a Sunday. How appropriate.

5) Beirut vs. Budapest

4) Samsung S5 vs iPhone 5S

3) Dubai vs. Singapore

2) Lebanon, Would You Miss Me?

TOP POST OF 2014:

1) 5 Eco-Friendly Product Designers in Lebanon

CONTRIBUTING WRITER ON OTHER SITES:

6 Truths About Working in Advertising

A New Movement Fights to Revive Lebanon’s First Railway

I’ve got a lot lined up for this year, including a complete remodel of the blog. Here’s to another year of Sunday Bambi posts, cards, and contributions! Cheers!