Nightlife in Doha

WOW!! What can I say!?
The Cube… very well structured night club…
There was a live band playing covers and a very nice laser show.
At one point the laser was painting on the wall “Welcome to the Cube. The ONLY night club in Doha!!!”
I was so bored that I actually counted the number of women there: 6. Men? About 200.
Well, what can you expect? It’s a dry state (no alcohol)…
In any case, looking forward to Hong Kong πŸ™‚

Doha

HOT… very, very HOT!
Thought of assembling my bike but decided against it once I went out for a 1 minute walk around the hotel and was immediately drenched in sweat.
There are some “safaris” available and some city tours you can get but besides being expensive, it requires a minimum of 3 people… so for a less money and more freedom I rented a car.
Desert and construction sites… massive structures… but mainly it feels like there is a lot of building and not enough people to fill all of these spaces and monuments. On the highway you see only trucks moving sand from one pile to another… here is a quick video… at the end, note that the car starts beeping if I go over 120 km/h! No way to turn it off… goes well with the no alcohol policy that exists here (only foreigners can buy/drink alcohol in certain bars of certain hotels…

In the cities you see “strip malls” selling everything from Jaguars, Bentleys to Fouchon from Paris, car parts, food and furniture. Went into one of the many huge malls they have around here. The mall is inspired in Venice – there even are some gondolas! Shopping is their self proclaimed pass time – I guess there is not much else to do when you have so much money – you shop until you drop πŸ™‚ Here is a quick video of the locals shopping – since it is “rude” to take pictures of the men and practically forbidden to take pictures of the women here, I just held the camera as if it was off when filming:

And another one of the new area where all the new hotels are being built.

It is so HOT that at one point my camera simply refused to take pictures… I guess the level of humidity and the heat sent it into error…
In any case, after a little bit it decided to cooperate and I managed to keep on shooting:

Doha

Big entry – Barcelona – Paris – Doha

Forgot to post the pictures of my last day in Barcelona… went to the Picasso Museum but it was closed, so went to the Zoo instead πŸ™‚

Zoo – Barcelona

Trip to Paris was uneventful… arranged with one of the few taxi drivers with a mini-van in Barcelona to pick me up in the morning… arrived 1 hour before my flight but fortunately the Air France check-in was empty and the whole procedure was swift… even to get the bags in Paris it was effortless.
I had to then face the decision of going into Paris by train, taxi or rent a car. Tried renting a car but because of the Air Show, all rental companies were sold out – well – could’ve gotten a BMW X5 for 250 Euros a day… hehehe… wouldn’t mind the car but the price was outrageous… the train, well… wasn’t so sure how close it would get to Philip’s apt and how many changes I would have to make, so went with the cab alternative.
The apt is in an AMAZING location – on Isle St. Louis right behind the Notre Dame! High ceilings, floor to ceiling windows and a great view of the river… not to mention the street musicians who played wonderful music throughout the day and night.
During the days there I went to the Pompidou where the highlight for me was a section with Philip Starck’s earliest works. Biked around to the Louvre, Champs Elise, Eiffel Tower, and St. Germain.
Always feel great in Paris… yesterday met with Andrea who came with some friends for the weekend in Paris… we went to the Picasso museum where you can see the full range of his work. In the morning I went to see a free exhibit at the Hotel de Ville about the life of Dalida – Egyptian born, French star who sang one of my favorite French songs – Parole Parole.
Here are some pictures of all of this:

Paris

NOW… DOHA!!

AARGH!!!!

Let’s start from the decision of going by train… ok… the train station was 4 blocks from Philip’s apt but in the hot sun, my heavy back pack and the bike case, I was completely wet by the time I got to the entrance. No escalators, so stumbled down then 2 flights of stairs down to the ticket office… 8 Euros sure beat 45 Euros on the cab… so I figured I’d eventually dry up in the air conditioning of the train… It was broken… so my continuous outpour continued for the next 45 minutes until I got to Charles de Gaulle International Airport. Up the stairs, down the elevator and into the airport tram… out the tram, up the escalators, into the wrong terminal… back down the escalators and back into the tram…
HUGE line at Qatar Airlines.
“What is this?”, asks the check-in lady.
“A bicycle…” I reply…
“Are the tires deflated?”
“No…” WHY AM I SO HONEST!?
Open the case… unpack the bike… deflate the tires…
“You cannot take the bike… it’s too heavy.”
“What!? I have traveled from New York to Lisbon to Barcelona to Paris and NO problem… please call your manager.”
“How about your Visa!?”
“WHAT!!? The Qatar Embassy informed me that I would get it at the airport once I got into Qatar!!”
RUN to an internet terminal, email the hotel and they send me the visa… but where to print it!? Fortunately the Qatar Airline manager felt pity and allowed me to use the printer in his office AND take the bike for free!!
UFFF!!!
On the plane – yes – I am dry by now – and this girl from Malaysia on my right start chatting away with me… very nice girl but all I wanted to do was listen to my iPod and rest after all this “adventure”… at one point I just close my eyes and ignore her…
Over dinner I start talking to the girl on my left… this time a girl from Vietnam studying Graphic Design in Paris.
Brand new airplane – an Airbus with those individual screens where you can choose what film to watch and when. Got into it and ended up watching 2 movies and not sleeping… saw “The Number 23” – a little twisted and entertaining – then “Catch and Release” – ok for the plane.
Get to the airport… where is my bike!!!?
At this point I am actually thinking that it is a good thing that I don’t have to lug it around… plus I don’t think I am going to ride it here in Doha… the air is simply THICK with humidity – it was 30 degrees at 5 AM!! I don’t even want to know what the temperature outside is now.
In any case – get a cab to the hotel – arrive at 7 AM…
“I am sorry sir… but check-in is at 2 PM… I will do my best to get you a room… please go ahead and have some breakfast while we wait for someone to check out.”
I am NOT hungry… I am filthy… I am sleepy… but hey… what can you do…
By 11 AM I get to the room…
No free internet… have to pay for it…
Take a shower… the drain is clogged and the bathroom floods…
The room is nice though… the view… well… a construction site…
Saw some interesting boats on the way here… let’s see… going to rest today, probably just stay in and go to the pool… tomorrow I will take a look around town…
Uff!!!
But hey… what am I complaining about right!? Vacations… traveling and living life πŸ™‚

Paris – quick note

No internet where I am staying so posting just to say hi to everyone and say that everything is amazing here in Paris… such a great town… expansive, green, elegant, and yes… very expensive… about USD 4 for a Coke!!
Quick stay here… a shame.
Had dinner with Mark both nights – very pleasant and now with Andrea who came to spend the weekend with some of her friends.
Off to Doha tonight… will probably have internet at the hotel there so I will have a chance to upload all of the new pictures πŸ™‚

Party

Weekend in Barcelona – SONAR going on so many parties. Went all out on Saturday to a place called Rasmatas – another huge place with about 6 different areas with different music. Went with JP and Pepe and stayed there almost all night – great music and a slightly better looking crowd.
On Sunday we went to a “pool” party at a hotel – no one went into the pool but finally we saw some beatiful people πŸ™‚
Today, Monday is my last day here in Barcelona… leave tomorrow to Paris for a couple of days, then on to Doha and Hong Kong.

Barcelona 9

Another Day Hanging Out

Went for a quick bike ride and got yet another flat… have to change the strip in between the wheel and the tube… ran into JP and some new acquaintances he made, went to the Auto Show and then met with Karen and Julie at the beach and ended up at her friends bar. At night went to see the place Ale works on Fridays and Saturdays as a barman called Dancatoria… great 4 story house but the crowd was so so…

Barcelona 8

Lazy day

Woke up late again and went to get my bike from the shop – was not ready – argh – and when I came back later they hadnΒ΄t even tightened the spokes… after getting it all resolved went down to the SONAR so that he could get his passes and finally to the beach for some “papparazzi” photos for his magazine Beat – an entertainment guide for Hong Kong.

Barcelona7

Tonight going to stay in to seize the day tomorrow.

Barcelona Day 6

Some more pictures of my meanderings through the streets of Barcelona

Barcelona 6

Also did a little work yesterday at KarenΒ΄s house took some pictures of her for the Brazilian press… here are the selected ones:

Karen

At night we went out to some parties… not bad but I was too tired to enjoy it fully.

Parc Guell

Went to the famous Parc Guell and thought it was very nice but nothing astonishing or mouth dropping. Concentrated on the “macro” photography on the flowers. Was a great bike ride up there. On the way back I also stopped at La Pedrera, an interesting apt complex Gaudi built – again – interesting sculptural concept but nothing out of this world…

At night went out with Ale and his friend Jean-Pierre (JP) from Hong who is here for the SONAR music festival. After giving up on entering Buddha Bar we went to Club 13 – a cool night club set in a bunker – but very quiet on this Tuesday night. We then went back to Buddha Bar to say hi to one of their friends and ended up at City Hall… stayed up late but it was a quiet night – not too many people out.
Woke up late today and went over to Karen’s place to take some photos for her web site… and lets what tonight has in store for us πŸ˜‰

Oriol Balaguer – chocolates

With my good friend Karen Couto I went to the opening of a new line of chocolates and deserts by Oriol Balaguer at the gorgeous Miro Foundation.
Karen is a chef from Brazil who is now working with El Bulli here in Barcelona.
Oriol Balaguer apparently sells worldwide and as you can see, has a very refined presetnation (not to mention the taste!).
Here are some photos: